In the era of Allan

The Filipino artist who never settled for cliched outcome

Allan Cosio (left) with National Artist Kidlat Tahimik at the opening of Cosio’s exhibit in February 2020 right before the pandemic, at Forest Lodge in Baguio (Photo from Cosio family)

(Filipino artist Allan Cosio passed away April 29, 2021. We’re reprinting with permission the author’s Facebook post to pay tribute to this great artist and art leader.—Editor)

Allan Cosio and wife Ivi Avellana Cosio in their home studio in 2018 (Photo by Therese Mercado)

Enough of us will remember Allan Cosio (1941-2021) as both an unpredictably enigmatic and innovative formalist whose always surprising, even jaw-dropping, output might be nicknamed Abstract Adventurism, in that it never settled for the cliched outcome but obsessively searched for exciting forms, untested idioms, the “bulaga” factor that accompanied a new equipment which he would thrust upon the art community.

I particularly recall his massive, overpowering Talaksan (WoodPile) of 1979 and his HotDog of 1980, in an inexhaustible host of explorations that Allan always seemed to have simmering behind that self-assured smile.

Allan Cosio in his exhibit in February 2020 at Forest Lodge Baguio (Photo from Cosio family)

Allan also presided over the Art Association of the Philippines in the late 1970s to the early ‘80s, and this tall, confident and genial man steered an unwieldy group of Contemporary modernists into the era of Experimentation, deep and contentious searches for national identity, challenges over a practice that always needed to further democratize and stir a larger constituency to push its visual potential.

It was an era that craved success, no doubt, but did primarily, still, root itself in philosophy, discourse, bitter debate and rebuttal, and always asserted that art was about poetic, historical and philosophical aims, and that being an artist, in the era of Allan, was to never be satisfied with the innovations that one seemed to have arrived at.

Paalam, Allan

Allan Cosion with grandchildren Joey (now 23) and Pepi (now 17), in Vevey, Switzerland, in June 2011 (Photo from Cosio family)

About author


He’s a foremost multimedia artist in the Philippines noted for his paintings, sculptures, installations, who has shown here and abroad. In the late ‘80s and ‘90s he became known for editorial cartoons in the Manila Times, Manila Chronicle, Singapore Straits Times. Just as important, his is a voice in the social and political milieu of the country.

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