It’s been five years ago since we last saw an exhibit by Filipino artists at the United Nations Office in Vienna (UNOV) at the Vienna International Center (VIC). Lakbay Sining temporarily brought to UNOV the works of talented and award-winning contemporary artists from the Philippines as Bencab, Norlito Meimban, and Abigail Camaya Hills among others.
This year, we finally get to experience another such exhibit with the theme “Humanity: Art for Peace” – with mostly Filipino artists based in Vienna and three visiting artists from the Philippines, it is a profoundly moving and thought-enriching experience. This thematic exhibition beautifully encapsulates the essence of Filipino artistry (and of two other nationalities) and its commitment to promoting peace and understanding among all people.
The exhibit ran from September 13-15 at the UNOV’s rotunda, organized by the VIC Club Filipino headed by Marizel Rojas, in cooperation with VIC Art Club Chairman Raymond Nader and the Filipino Visual Artists in Austria led by Gerry de Guzman and Imelda Perez-Papai.
Entering the United Nations Office: As you approach the United Nations Office lobby, you’re struck by the symbolic significance of the location. It’s a place where leaders and diplomats from around the world come together to discuss matters of global importance. As with most of the art at the UN building, you can’t help but anticipate what the pieces convey, that the exhibit is not just a display of art but a message of peace and unity to the entire world.
The Rotunda: The exhibition was held at the spacious rotunda within the UN complex’s lobby. The gallery would have welcomed everyone entering the premises, showcasing the artworks in a manner that enhances their impact.
Art as a Universal Language: The central theme of the exhibit, “Humanity : Art for Peace,” immediately becomes apparent as you begin to explore the artworks. The artists have skillfully used their creative talents to convey the universal message of peace. The diversity of artistic expressions is impressive, from traditional paintings to modern multimedia pieces.
Symbolism and Imagery: Many of the artworks are laden with symbolism. You may come across paintings of serene landscapes and waterscapes, where nature’s beauty is juxtaposed with the desire for tranquility. Some depict hands reaching out in friendship, symbolizing unity and cooperation among people and nations. Doves, olive branches, and other symbols of peace are recurrent motifs, reinforcing the exhibition’s theme.
Multimedia Experiences and Program: Some of the pieces incorporate multimedia elements to further enhance messages of peace. During the vernissage, video presentations and a little background of the artists’ journey into the world of art was provided, giving additional layers of depth to the messages conveyed by their art.
We heard congratulatory and welcome speeches from Chief Executive Office – European and International Affairs representative Regina Wiala-Zimm, VIC Art Club Chairman Raymond Nader, Secretary General of the United Nations Correspondents Association in Vienna (UNCAV) Mr. Hermann Kroiher, International Cultural Diversity Organization (ICDO) president Josipa Palac, among other esteemed guests.
The artists list included: (visiting artists) Norlie Meimban, Ejem Alarcon, Ela Andal, (Vienna-based) Gerry de Guzman, Imelda Perez-Papai, Harold Khan, Isagani Banancia, Judith Bathan, Shiela Feliciano, Cecille Basierto, Mert Luya, Blair Siasico, Anna Yacat, Lisa Pangan, Marvin Balcos, Sabine Perucho, and Ali Hosseini (Iran).
Afterwards, the audience and guests were then able to explore the inspiration behind the artists’ works as they navigate through each painting, and somehow gain understanding of the Filipino culture and its commitment to peace.
Impactful Narratives: Throughout the exhibit, you encounter narratives that highlight the Filipino people’s resilience, commitment to peace, and their unique cultural heritage. The artworks tell stories of historical events, cultural traditions, and the people’s ongoing pursuit of a peaceful and harmonious world.
Global Engagement: The presence of diplomats, United Nations staff, and visitors of different nationalities fosters a sense of global engagement and shared responsibility for promoting peace. Conversations and discussions about the artworks and their messages take place in a spirit of unity and collaboration.
Within Peaceful Efforts: The exhibit is also a serene and contemplative experience. The art and its message inspire a sense of hope and a reminder of the collective responsibility we all share in working towards a more peaceful world.
The UNOV houses various peace-keeping/promoting offices such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN Office for Drugs and Crime, the United Nations Liaison Office for Peace and Security (UNLOPS), the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) (although not a UN entity itself) among others. These organizations’ aims include encouraging and assisting research, development and practical application of atomic energy for peaceful uses throughout the world, fighting illicit drugs and international crime, in addition to being responsible for implementing the United Nations lead programme on terrorism, supporting the partnership between the United Nations and the European Union (EU) and other Brussels-based organizations on peace and security matters, and banning nuclear weapons test explosions and any other nuclear explosions, for both civilian and military purposes, in all environments, respectively.
Holding the exhibit within the complex was an appropriate reminder for everyone that their efforts and messages of peace are continually echoed – not just within the four walls of the UNOV.
Leaving with a Sense of Purpose: As you leave the exhibit, you can’t help but feel a renewed sense of purpose and a commitment to supporting global initiatives for peace. The exhibit has a profound impact, reminding visitors that art can be a powerful catalyst for change and a bridge for understanding among nations.
Visiting the exhibit “Humanity: Art for Peace” at the United Nations Office was more than just looking at an art exhibition; it’s a profound experience that encourages reflection, dialogue, and a renewed commitment to the values of peace and unity that the United Nations represents.
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