AMONG winners is THE winner who comes up with the best acceptance speech. Upon receipt of the 2015 Thirteen Artist Awards given triennally by the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Ernest Concepcion emerged as the real winner who had two weapons: wit and daring which he used in delivering his oration. Without further ado, here’s the speech:
Good Evening, everyone.
Before anything else, I would like to thank the CCP, the staff, and this year’s panel for believing in us, to Jonathan Olazon for his patience with this particular group of crazies (that’s us awardees, btw) to Juan Alcazaren for designing our trophy – I’ve always wanted to have a Johnny Alcazaren fyi, for my personal collection of course, and nothing else – and to our families and friends who are here right now to celebrate this momentous occasion.
To be honest, I can’t really speak for everyone in this group. I mean, for every three years, every batch has always been a dynamic and diverse group of artists. For this year, I honestly feel I’m not entitled to speak in behalf of a group of highly talented artists since I for one and everyone else in this room possess vastly different processes, ambitions, reasons for doing, paths to glory – how could I possibly speak for a group of people who may not agree with me at all, I totally understand, if I were sitting with you right now I probably wouldn’t agree with me – but since I am onstage right now I could practically say whatever I want. Sorry guys. However, we could all certainly agree on one thing, at least for today – ….we made it! Yes!
The 13 artists award is the epitome of what is happening right now in contemporary art.. Right? A distinguished panel selects this small group of artists who are currently pushing it (right?), paving the way, setting the trend…you know what I mean. Here we are, creative pioneers who are kicking ass right now. But now…is just now. And tomorrow is a totally different matter. I sincerely hope this award, would not only help us continually kick ass, but also act as a kind of reminder – a mental note – to transcend every day, not for tomorrow, but right now….at every moment.
Having this award, I guess, for me, is kind of having a responsibility. I mean, I could easily say this award “is an inspiration to everyone, blah, blah, blah.” That is already a given fact. We are sincerely honored to be recognized for our efforts, of course, but this is most certainly a challenge for us as well. What I really think is that—–this award is a reminder for us, to keep doing good, to keep questioning ourselves, finding our own answers (may or may not – that’s the beauty of the struggle) and to continually move forward. The award doesn’t end here. (its not like – ok heres the award. Ok ka na. pahinga ka na. No.). No rest for the wicked, as they say.
This recalls my relationship with Sir Chabet when I was in school. We definitely had our bouts of disagreements, arguments, fiery exchanges…to make it short, Sir Chabet stressed the hell out of me that’s for sure. He really taught me to re-question myself, my reasoning, my process…to the point I nearly dropped out of school – true story. But looking back, I valued this “toxic” relationship. I learned so much from his standard of quality critical thinking and instilled those lessons within me – when I moved to the United States, where Sir Chabet became a supportive mentor for me, via email, and even a kind of father figure, and then coming back here. I think what I’m trying to say here is, Sir Chabet, taught me to continually stress myself out haha, to keep me on my toes, as an artist, and as a better humble human being.
Now, am I saying this award is meant to stress us out? Yes. Yes! It’s supposed to. Embrace it, and bring it on.
Now before I end my speech I would like to tell this short story about my good friend and colleague, Emmanuel Migrino, or more commonly known as “Manny”. I did ask permission from Manny if I could tell this story, he said yes, but he has no idea I’m telling this to a large group of people at the same time. That’s ok. He’s not here. He’s out of town.
Anyway, after graduation, Manny moved to New York City, a few years before I did. Now let’s set aside the romantic myth of living in New York, for at its core, it is truly a highly competitive, brutal kind of city, and we loved it. For Manny, and for myself, the first few years of living there have been quite difficult, of course, and Sir Chabet, via email, has always been very supportive of us. But there is one time, when Manny emailed Sir, saying: “Sir, I feel lost, I don’t know what to do, etc.” Sir Chabet responded in the most Sir Chabet, zen kind of way: STAY LOST.
It almost sounds like our beloved mentor was discouraging, but I honestly think there is a nugget of wisdom in this zen kind of paradox – of being lost. Now, this award (as I mentioned earlier) is not only a reminder to challenge ourselves further, but as according to Sir, to be lost, to be stressed, in a matter of sense, in the best sense, to explore more and discover more by staying lost.
To everyone, Cheers! Congrats to the 13 Artist Awardees of 2015. Stay Lost, kids. Get Lost – thank you.
MORE ABOUT THE ARTIST
Ernest Concepcion (born in 1977 in Manila, Philippines) is a globally-emerging, multi-awarded and critically acclaimed Filipino visual artist renowned for the stunning drip work, draftsmanship and meticulous design of his artworks that meditate on critiques of postmodernism and contemporary life, as well as the divergences between Eastern and Western modes of living brought together under the mantle of unifying globalization.
Like many, his artworks may be systematized into series, including the most recent Melty Series. These productions of iconic paintings in oil and acrylic and drawings in various media, aside from other large-scale mural-sized projects, have earned him recognition not only as an artist but as a master draftsman adept with both pencil, crayon and chalk, as well as with the aforementioned media.
As an artist with ever-broadening audience reach, Concepcion maintains residences in at least two cities. He lives and works in Quezon City and in Manila in the Philippines, and in New York, New York, in the United States. He is currently an honorary resident artist at Light & Space Contemporary in Manila.
Concepcion inaugurated his artistic career by opening his first one-man show at the Kentler International Drawing Space in Brooklyn, NY, in 2008. He has since then taken part in solo and group exhibitions in Manila, the Philippines; Minneapolis, MN; Los Angeles, CA; Singapore; Montclair, NJ; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Fort Myers, Florida; Toronto, Canada; and other cities around the world, while garnering international awards and recognition in the Southeast Asian region and internationally.
In a speech delivered by Concepcion upon receipt of the Thirteen Artist Award from the Cultural Center of the Philippines, he commended Roberto Chabet, a former dean of the College of Fine Arts, University of the Philippines, for having acted as a sort of father figure and life coach.
Concepcion received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the College of Fine Arts, University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, the Philippines. As a student he was noted for constructing encaustic canvases that are now reminiscent of his Melty Series.