Bautista, Glenn A.
March 20, 1947 – May 6, 2014
Total and spontaneous creativity is the principle that moves Glenn Bautista, a wide-ranging artist who resisted tested formulas and whose prodigious work in two-and-three dimensional diverse media which builds a universe of striking, haunting images that continually tease and challenge the mind.
For the description of his numerous types of subject matter, each has its own distinct characteristics. The landscapes do not have the placidity and finality of familiar land-and-sky vistas but have the uncommon quality of concealing and revealing. The abstract works are never facile, pose riddles and enigmas that resist categorical answers. The three-dimensional works defy conventional expectations to extend the meaning and experience of sculpture. The art of Glenn Bautista is not one for the academically conservative and tradition-bound; rather, it extends an invitation to the adventurous avant-garde. Making a lasting mark on figurative art in the Philippines as it has opened numerous options and has engaged in the lively dialectic between abstract and figurative, fusing in an exciting and highly original combination.
He was a postwar baby, the seventh of nine children of the family who was born in the little town of Orion, Bataan, a province in Central Luzon, Philippines. Bataan became historically infamous due to the Bataan Death March during World War II that ended in 1945 when the Americans liberated the Philippines from the Japanese occupation. His father, the Rev. Ignacio Bautista became a minister of the United Methodist Church in 1945 and served for 39 years. His mother was a deaconess, a graduate of Harris Memorial College, the only deaconess training school of the United Methodist Church in the Far East.
He completed all his education in Manila. His elementary education at the Sta. Ana Elementary School, his secondary education at the Union High School, and his college education at the University of Santo Thomas (UST), the oldest university in the Philippines. After a year of study at the University of Santo Thomas, Glenn transferred to the University of the Philippines (UP), College of Fine Arts, considered as the highest ranked and only national university in the Philippines. This is where he thrived and was a consistent university scholar.
In 1965, Glenn Bautista was an advertising student at the University of the Philippines. It was during this time that his father, encouraged him to submit an entry to an International Art Competition that was sponsored by an organization for World Literacy and Christian Literature founded in New York. Out of sixty-four entries from all over the world, his artwork entitled The Event was declared winner.
In 1963-65, both his UST and UP school’s design plates led to the creation of his major artworks. Amongst his notable artworks were a pen and ink drawing composed of the complete thirty-nine poems of the Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, entitled the Rizal Monument. This artwork was on exhibit for about 6 years at the Jose Rizal Shrine at Fort Santiago in Manila, upon the request of the former First Lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos.
Another notable artwork entitled A Orillas del Pasig, is based on a Spanish song whose lyrics were written by Dr. Jose Rizal and was translated later translated into English by Glenn Bautista’s late friend Alfredo Veloso.
Glenn Bautista is an artist who sees and draws out possibilities in any material which he explores as a potential art medium. He has affinities with Pablo Picasso who once said,
“The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web. That is why we must not discriminate between things. Where things are concerned, there are no class distinctions. We must pick out what is good for us and where we can find it”.
It is this adventurous spirit in artmaking which gives his art an uncommon range and richness of expression – at once subtle and bold, microcosmic, and macrocosmic. Blithely balancing contraries that would cancel each other out in lesser art.
His contribution in the exploration of opening ever new expressive resources for art and extending the range of the possible. It is a range not only in the technical aspect of art, but also in its vision, where form and meaning fuse. A meaning which embraces the artist’s inward search for divinity and spirituality, as well as his outward going interest in the numerous concrete experiences of time and place – Manila, Dusseldorf, Madrid – that creation of pop culture and politics in the artist’s ever-renewing consciousness.
Glenn Bautista is indeed a very highly respected artist, especially among long time art collectors, museums and art institutions. He studied and stayed for a long time in Germany, and was a very close friend of Joseph Beuys, now a very highly respected and highly honored German artist. In the early eighties, he did an extraordinary simultaneous nine gallery venue – one man art exhibition at the SM Art Walk, spearheaded by Gallery Genesis where he was an exclusive in-house artist. In the nineties, he was also honored with a retrospective exhibition by the Cultural Center of the Philippines covering over 20 years of artworks. And four years after he died in 2014, the National Museum of the Philippines in 2018, also honored him with another retrospective exhibition which run for several weeks.
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ART OF GLENN
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