Arts & Culture

Why You Must Indulge in Annie Cabigting's Astounding 'Museum'

Art collector Miguel Ramos explores the evolution of artist Annie Cabigting through her latest exhibit 'Museum Watching.'
IMAGE MIGUEL RAMOS
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It's been a little over 10 ten years since I first interviewed Annie Cabigting. Back then, she was preparing for her show called “Something To Do With Art” at the former location of the Finale Art Gallery.

Fast-forward to today: She recently opened her latest show appropriately titled “Museum Watching.” The interesting part about reexamining her current work is that the same things written a decade ago are still applicable. The same venue, Finale Art Gallery. The same concept, as far as the Museum Watching series is concerned. And the same characteristic wit and humor. All are still present. So what has changed? A lot.

Cabigting is best known for her Museum Watching series where she paints a scene with a person looking at an artwork, with his or her back to the viewer. As the viewer, you are given a point of view similar to one you would have if you were standing in an actual museum looking at a painting with someone in front of you.

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The first work Cabigting created for the series was Navel (after Poklong Anading) back in 2006. When I first saw that painting, I thought it was a fascinatingly original concept—one that had a lot of potential for the artist’s future. Today, when you look at that first Navel and compare it to Cabigting's current works, you will see a perfect example of something all great artists need but which so many lack: evolution.

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It's not just about doing the same thing over and over again ad nauseam. There is always a need to keep improving. Same concept, better technique. Same idea, better execution. For Cabigting, the improvement is not just from the standpoint of her technical skill. Her works today have a baffling ability of swallowing the viewer into the painting. It is a surreal experience that engages you in a strangely interactive way—if that is even possible with traditionally static art. The sensation is one that must be experienced as it is difficult to describe. Cabigting infuses her art with an ethereal quality that is the evolution of excellence.

Cabigting says the original seeds for the series were planted from her first one-man show “Tearing to Pieces” in 2005. “It was here that I realized how important the audience was in relation to the art piece or object.  The audience and the work’s interaction is where ‘magic’ or shall we say ‘art’ happens. [After all,] what is an art object without an audience?” she says.

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Exhibiting the works in a “museum setting” was Cabigting’s idea. But bringing that concept to life fell into the very capable hands of art advisor and creative consultant Miguel Rosales and curator Nilo Ilarde.

Rosales says the hardest part was “not seeing all the final works and their frames while conceptualizing the layout and doing the details. We had to work with preliminary studies, not the actual works as [many] were still in progress. I had to imagine how the colors of the works and the frames would relate to the color selected for the walls and fabrics.” 


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Between Rosales and Ilarde, the Finale Art Gallery on Chino Roces Avenue was transformed into a European museum. The furniture, lighting and overall ambience of the gallery completed and even augmented the experiential characteristics of Cabigting’s works, creating the perfect environment to maximize the impact of her paintings.


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I have no doubt that art-crazed Manila will remember “Museum Watching” as one of the country’s most significant and groundbreaking exhibits. And despite Cabigting’s stratospheric but merited success, the multimillion-peso auction prices and the seemingly endless waitlist for her works, I believe this show will likely catapult her into another level of preeminence.

“Museum Watching” is not just a must-see. It is a must-experience. 


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Admission is free. “Museum Watching” by Annie Cabigting is on view at the Finale Art Gallery at La Fuerza Compound, 2241 Chino Roces Avenue until March 28, 2018.

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Miguel Ramos
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