In partnership with the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines, the University of Santo Tomas hosted the symposium “Hemispheres: A European Union Cultural Symposium subtitled Art Through the Eyes of Europe last August 17, 2017 (Thursday), at the Buenaventura G. Paredes, O.P. Building.

European Ambassador to the Philippines, HE Franz Jessen who delivered a message to the participants was the special guest. The featured artists gave their insights on their respective art and showed samples of their artwork.

Spanish painter Cesar Caballero, who is known for his cool-blue paintings in the past, discussed his painting activities in the Philippines and showed samples of his current artwork that includes murals that he paints with the community. Caballero has been painting in the country and his new series of paintings reminds the viewers of a Southeast Asian character. “We have something to say to the world,” said the Spanish painter Cesar Caballero who has been painting in the Philippines for 12 years. “Art is one way to life and know its meaning.”

As artists, according to Michael Blanco, art director and resident curator of Blanco Family Museum, their goal is to record the Filipino culture and tradition. “[It is] to express in our canvases what we see and feel in our society and in environment. Our strength and weaknesses and what we can contribute for betterment.”

The leitmotif of Blanco’s painting recurs on different places in the country and as well as anatomy. He is the third son of Jose Pitok Blanco, who was a Thomasian and graduated from the College of Architecture and Fine Arts in 1955. The younger Blanco discovered his inclination for drawing at a young age of ten and has since participated in numerous art activities and exhibitions in both local and international engagements such as the painting exhibits in Holland, Singapore, Spain, China, and USA.

Blanco showed his artworks and shared his experiences as a member of a family of painters, and how their father’s passion for painting influenced all the seven Blanco children to become painters themselves, aside from their mother who also painted. Eventually, painting caught up even with the third generation of the Blancos.

Lui Medina, the third painter featured in the symposium, talked about the painting environment outside of the Philippines, having studied in London to pursue a Master’s degree in Finale Art Painting at the Slade School of Art. She has held exhibitions in the Philippines, China, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. In her paintings, Medina explores the relationships between objects and paintings via the tensions of space.

Medina said art practice was an investigation. The material she used in her artworks were organic and natural such as beeswax. “I like the idea of making something as very tactile which also interests me in painting,” Medina said. “It always starts in the material. The process comes from material.”

Hemispheres is a series of open dialogues between practitioners and students on the impact of European influences in select cultural fields in the Philippines.

Last May 23, 2017, the symposium tackled literature and featured the National Artist F. Sionil Jose, H.E. Jarovslav Olsa, Jr., Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Philippines and Dr. Jossef Bencze, Ambassador of Hungary to the Philippines.