Meeting the eminent artist Imelda Cajipe Endaya, slim and frail, brings to mind Gregoria de Jesus, popularly known as Oryang, the Lakambini of Katipunan and wife of its Supremo Gat Andres Bonifacio.
The similarity was put to good use by this social realist painter in some of her paintings, including Self Portrait as Gregoria de Jesus, an acrylic and collage on textile and canvas diptych, and Pusong Wagas, portraying Oryang with Bonifacio in acrylic, textile and found objects on canvas.
These paintings are just two of more than 200 artworks and archival materials exhibited in a Retrospective titled Imelda Cajipe Endaya: Pagtutol at Pag-asa (Refusal and Hope) at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Bulwagang Juan Luna (Main Gallery) and adjacent hallways until December 4, 2022.
The CCP exhibit is the first full-scale retrospective of “ICE,” as she’s called familiarly by her young co-curators, Lara Acuin and Con Cabrera. A printmaker and mixed-media and installation artist, the multi-faceted artist uses diverse mediums enriched by artistic research and conversation across forms and materials spanning half a century.
CCP was able to gather within two years a treasure trove of the artist’s paintings from local museums and institutions and collectors as well as from the collection of the artist herself. They are works that mirror her manifold advocacies dwelling on historical truth, cultural milieu, and social issues, especially on women.
There’s the series on Mga Ninuno/Forefathers, mostly in photoengraving, etching and collagraphy. The prints include Ninunong Yakan, Ninunong Tagalog, Mga Zambal, Si Manong (Ninunong Bisaya), Mga Ninuno I – VIII. These are the product of her long and tedious archival research on Philippine historical images when she took up graduate studies in Art History and Criticism in 1976-1977 at UP Diliman. She considers the series which reflects her generation’s search for identity her most significant work. They are now part of the CCP collection, Hiraya Gallery collection and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas collection.
ICE has consistently explored the themes of national identity and people empowerment, gender, race, migration, displacement, and globalization. And women have always been on the forefront of those themes as can be seen in the installation, The Wife is a DH, Mga Pinay sa Albania series, Hilom: Para kina Maggie dela Riva, Malala Yousafsai, at bawa’t Juana dela Cruz (polyptych in acrylic and lace on canvas), or the acrylic and textile on canvas, Mga Babae sa Panahon ng Damuho.
‘…our endless forms of resistance and persistence in hoping are really flotsams and jetsams…’
Entering the exhibition venue and getting lost in reverie of our distant past and present can be overwhelming. Says Jenny Llaguno, ICE’s friend who has been involved in the women’s movement, “My biggest take from the exhibit is a feeling of everything floating, the objects, the identifiable persons, the flora and the fauna—that they are not anchored on the canvas of the universe. Having as its theme ‘protestations and hope,’ could it be that our endless forms of resistance and persistence in hoping are really flotsams and jetsams of our struggle to break off our chains to become free?”
Sculptor Julie Lluch says that the more than 200 works spanning five decades is Cajipe Endaya’s “lifetime of relentless, perfervid pursuit of art, truth, and beauty. They hang on the walls around me, their presence palpable and powerful, and maybe because we’ve been friends a long time, I was so moved emotionally viewing Meps’ oeuvre during her retrospective opening. But so happy to see so many of her pieces gathered and displayed all together in one space.”
Historian Fe B. Mangahas who authored the four-volume Kasaysayan ng Ating Bayan: Ang Pilipinas Noon at Ngayon with visuals done by Cajipe Endaya says of the artist: “Meps has indigenous roots. She paints from her own experience. We all have our own signature. And she has her own. From her own paintings, you can’t mistake that signature—the people, the topics—local, but universal, too.”
ICE’s young co-curators Acuin and Cabrera appreciate the fact that she wanted to work with young people as she gets to be energized. She continues to guide the feminist arts organization, KASIBULAN that she co-founded in 1987 and where she was the first president. The sisterhood and solidarity formed in the group empower the women in their struggle for social change. As well, she initiated and became the first editor of Pananaw: Philippine Journal of Visual Arts, the first publication of its kind on Philippine art.
Imelda Cajipe Endaya’s persistent pursuit of and excellence in art has earned her local and international recognition such as the gold medal in printmaking from the Art Association of the Philippines in 1979, Mayi Critics’ Choice in 1980, CCP Thirteen Artists Award in 1990, Cheju Pre-Biennale Special Award in 1995, Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award from the City of Manila in 1998, RP Centennial Honors for the Arts in 1999, artist-in-residency at Ecole Cantonale d’Art du Valais, Switzerland in 1999, and awards from the American Society of Contemporary Artists in 2009.
Some of her works not in the Retrospective can be found in the Permanent Collections of Singapore Art Museum (Lupa sa Aming Altar/Land upon my Altar), National Gallery Singapore (Plantsahan ni Marra / 2019 – Awakenings: Art in Society in Asia 1960s-1990s), Fukuoka Museum Asian Art Gallery (Sa Lupang Golgota /A Land called Golgotha), and Okinawa Art Museum (Bigkis ng Pagkakaisa/Bond of Unity).
Looking at the artists of today, Cajipe Endaya says: “Artists of any generation, true artists, should be very imaginative and resourceful in whatever situation they are in. Having limited resources is always very challenging. And that’s part of an artist ingenuity. To be able to source what one needs.”
Apart from the Retrospective, CCP will host monthly public programs until November 2022, onsite and streamed online. An off-site exhibition, Imelda Cajipe-Endaya: Windows to An Archive, is presented at the Ateneo Library of Women’s Writings (ALIWW) until December 2, 2022 in partnership with the Ateneo Art Gallery.
For more information, visit https://bit.ly/CCPPagtutolAtPagAsa or contact the CCP Visual Arts and Museum Division at tel. 88321125 loc. 1504/1505, email email@example.com, or through @ccpvamd in Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.