Humble Chairs Become Artworks to Promote Mental Health – Manila Bulletin | Candle Made Easy

Visual Arts Helping Hands Foundation and Art Lounge Manila Launch The Empty Chair Project Reprise

To say that the pandemic has severely impacted everyone’s mental health is an understatement. From the chaos it caused around the world in the first few months of its spread to the lives it has cost, COVID-19 has caused so many problems beyond what the eye can see, that it has taken mental health awareness to another level.

To stimulate conversations about this, the local art community launched The Empty Chair Project with the Metropolitan Museum of Manila in 2019. Led by the Visual Arts Helping Hands Foundation, the initiative showcased the work of Filipino artists who used chairs as canvases for their crafts. This time, the project has a new home with Art Lounge Manila, continuing its mission of making statements in support of mental health through art.

Jonathan Dangue’s “Sikreto ni Marites”; Juanito Torres’ “The Healer”; Anton Del Castillo’s “Life Is Studded With Thorns”; Kristine Lim’s “Maylaya”; and Carlo Magnos Blue Moon Rising”

The exhibition The Empty Chair Project Reprise brings together a new roster of 58 artists transforming a humble chair into a masterpiece. This new roster features a good mix of artists, from youngsters to established artists, all of whom once again give their full support for the mental health and establishment of a fund for the health needs of members of the visual arts community.

“During the lockdown, artists and collectors were among the very first to rise up to help our frontliners through various online fundraisers,” says exhibition curator Ricky Francisco. “The normally lonely artists have come out of their shell to support other members of our community when needed. I think that’s the essence of The Empty Chair Project, and that’s our essence as Filipinos. We are always there to help those in need, as we deeply know that when we are in need, others will do the same.”

The exhibition features works by the artists Aileen Lanuza, Anna de Leon, Antipas Biboy Delotavo, Anton del Castillo, Carlo Magno, Christina Quisumbing Ramilo, Ciron Señeres, Daniel dela Cruz, Dino Gabito, Dominic Rubio, Erwin Leaño, Ferdinand Montemayor, Fil Delacruz, Francis Nacion, Gene Paul Martin, Guerrero “RG” Habulan, Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan, Janos Delacruz, Jason Montinola, Jayson Cortez, Jef Cablog, Jia Santos-Estrella, Jik Villanueva, Jomike Tejido, Jonathan Dangue, Jose Tence Ruiz, Juan Alcazarezm , Juanito Torres, Kat Cuenca, Kim Hamilton Sulit, Kristine Lim, Leeroy New, Leo Abaya, Louie Cordero, Luis Lorenzana, Luis Santos, Lynyrd Paras, Marc Aran Reyes, Melissa Yeung Yap, Migs Villanueva, Nona Garcia, Ombok Villamor, Omi Reyes, Pepe Mendoza, Pete Jimenez, Rando Onia, Raul Isidro, Raul Lebajo, Reginald Yuson, Renz Baluyot, Riel Hilario, Rodel Tapaya, Roel Obemio, Romeo Lee, Soler Santos, Stanley Ruiz, Veronica Peralejo, Yasmin Sison-Ching, under other. It also celebrates the life of the late artist who passed away during the pandemic.

“We have re-staged ‘The Empty Chair Project Reprise’ in recognition of the need to reconnect after lockdowns. We’ve lost two artists during this time, Riel Hilario and Leo Abaya, and their work is on display,” says Daniel dela Cruz, director of the Visual Arts Helping Hands Foundation, Inc. “We want to honor them by exhibiting theirs is collaborating with other artists as the lockdowns and pandemic have severely affected everyone’s mental as well as physical health. This exhibition is a reminder of our need to look out for one another. That was the message of The Empty Chair Project in 2019. And it rings truer now.”

“Art Lounge Manila has been part of various fundraisers to support our healthcare workers during the lockdown. And we are honored to be part of this exhibition, which focuses primarily on artists and members of our own community.” The pandemic has taught us that it is only by working together that we can stay truly healthy,” adds Suzzaine Tiausas, the director the gallery, added . “We are excited to welcome our artists to ‘The Empty Chair Project’, which is primarily a project of the Visual Arts Helping Hands Foundation, as the pandemic has taught us that it is only by working together that we can stay truly healthy.”

The Empty Chair Project Reprise runs at Art Lounge Manila at The Podium at Ortigas Center until July 30th.


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