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Talusan, Edgar “Egai”

Edgar “Egai” Talusan Fernandez was born in Manila in 1955. He obtained his degree in advertising from the College of Music and Fine Arts, Philippine Women’s University in Manila in 1975. He gained his reputation as a painter in both representational art and abstractions.

He has mounted numerous solo exhibits to date and has likewise participated in numerous group exhibitions since 1974. He is a multi-awarded watercolorist. He is a Hall of Fame awardee of the Kulay Sa Tubig Watercolor Competition at Gallery Genesis, and has also been the recipient of numerous other awards and honor citations. He was one of the recipients of theThirteen Artists Awards by the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 1990. He was given the Parangal Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan by the City of Manila in 2006. He was also a 3rd Prize winner in sculpture at the Art Association of the Philippines Annual in 1978. He won Grand Prize at the Second Art Ecology, The Light Foundation for Artists, Inc.

His works have been exhibited and shown extensively both in local and international art scenes, in Japan, Hongkong, Singapore, China, Australia, France, the Netherlands, and the Middle East. His paintings are housed in the National Museum, Central Bank Philippines National Museum and the Singapore Art Museum. He also has a number of paintings printed in Philippine stamps, greeting cards, magazines and book covers.

His practice as a visual artist includes facilitating mural workshops for different NGOs and doing production design for theater productions. He was the head of the Visual Art Committee of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) in 2007-2010 and also served as a NCCA consultant.

A quasi-surrealist and social realist with artistry venturing into the abstract, he defies tagging and definitive description as practitioner of a formal art movement.

 

While Fernandez has done about 30 murals since the 1980s, he has been depicting the inhuman condition of the oppressed and the poor starting in the mid-70s. Greedy capitalism, dynastic rule, feudalism, imperialism, and inequality were issues for stoning in Fernandez’s artworks. Politically organized, he immersed in communities, went out and saw the country’s social condition, before marching to his studio where he painted the outside world, alone. “In the past, there was no social media, so social integration was very important for artists like us,” he says. (2020, Barbara Dacanay)

In 1975, student artists such as Vin Toledo and Arnel Acosta who belonged to the radical group Kabataan Makabayan approached Fernandez, then 20 and a recent graduate, for workshops in poster-making and silkscreen printing. It led to the formation of “Kaisahan,” the first organized group of social realist painters. “At the time, the Nagkakaisang Progressibong Artista at Arkitekto (NPAA) was organized earlier, but members disbanded when Martial Law was declared in 1972. Walang nalalanguyang artist group yung mga nakalutang at yung mga nasa underground left noon,” Fernandez shares. Kaisahan attracted 23 members. They included Jess Abrera, Pablo “Adi” Baens Santos, Joe Curaesma, Antipas “Biboy” Delotavo, Renato Habulan, Fernandez, and Pol Lumaig. “Many of them were politicalized after they joined Kaisahan,“ Fernandez says. Art critics Alice Guillermo of the University of the Philippines and Emmanuel Torres of Ateneo Art Gallery held discussion groups with the artists at the house of Fernandez on Trabajo Street. In 1976, the group finalized Kaisahan’s Manifesto, which centered on the importance of creating cultural, political, socially and historically relevant Filipino artworks. (2020, Barbara Dacanay)

Formidable – this word best describes the artists who forged their works during the turbulent decades of the 70’s and 80’s. Edgar Talusan Fernandez stands proud, if not altogether towering, among them. He is a multi-awarded visual artist, a painter, sculptor, printmaker, photographer and theater production designer.

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