By Noel Galon de Leon, UP Visayas
On January 7, 2024, the dynamic artistic partnership of visual artist Kristoffer Brasileño and writer Allyn Canja marked a significant milestone with the opening of Thrive Art Gallery in Iloilo City. Positioned as an artistic hub for Ilonggo visual artists in Western Visayas, the gallery embodies the couple’s long-cherished dream of bringing art closer to the masses. In an intimate interview, Brasileño and Canja candidly expressed their commitment to democratizing art, emphasizing the gallery’s role in providing greater accessibility, especially for aspiring Ilonggo visual artists. Thrive Art Gallery stands not only as a physical space but as a vibrant testament to the couple’s vision of fostering a thriving artistic community in the region.
As the inaugural exhibit of the art gallery, they proudly unveiled the From the Backroom collection, featuring a curated blend of both new and timeless artworks from a diverse group of visual artists in Iloilo. The roster includes names such as Dureza Abad, Margaux Blas, Kristoffer Brasileño, Leizl Cabrera, Minda Cabrera, Eva Catedral, Edwin delos Reyes, Lucille Detotayo, Art Geroche, Judheya Java, Mark Anthony Larida, Roland Llarena, Mark Nativo, Alex Ordoyo, Amee Ponje, Riley Sarmiento, Melanie Jane Tendencia, Anna-Marie Velasco, Mae Vicente, and PG Zoluaga.
According to the exhibition note penned by Canja, the exhibition aims to offer a glimpse into the intricate artistic process within the gallery, transcending the traditional boundaries of exhibition curation. The exhibit unfolds with compelling artworks that peel back the layers of artists’ workspaces, revealing their notes, and showcasing the influential objects that shape their creative visions. The gallery space itself undergoes a metamorphosis, transitioning from its humble origins as a clothing store into a dynamic artistic haven, symbolizing a profound transformation in both space and purpose.
Titled From the Backroom, the exhibit aspires to carve out a space for a contemplative yet profound dialogue between the artist and the audience. Stepping into the backroom is not merely an entrance but an immersive opportunity to witness the unfiltered creative journey, thereby transforming art appreciation into an engaging and participatory experience. This exhibition extends a cordial invitation to explore the diverse backrooms of Ilonggo artists, each offering a distinct and personal perspective on their creative sanctuaries.
What Brasileño and Canja are undertaking holds significant importance in the local art scene in Iloilo. Their initiative not only dispels the notion that the presentation of art is confined to a privileged few but also serves as a compelling showcase of the power that arises when visual artists collaborate. This exhibition is a testament to the potential for collective progress, not only for individual artists but also for the broader community.
Canja emphasized that the inauguration of their art gallery with the help of The Shops at Atria marks a critical continuation of the artistic legacy established by their predecessors. She asserted that the collective vision for Thrive Art Gallery is oriented toward a shared goal – to passionately celebrate the rich talent, artistry, and culture of the Ilonggos.