Visual art group Guhit Pinas allegedly removed political artwork and people noticed

July 30, 2020 - 10:24 PM
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Political artwork
Digital artwork courtesy of Reighn Buenaventura on Facebook. The image was removed from Guhit Pinas, a long-running visual arts organization.

Guhit Pinas, a long-running visual art organization in the Philippines, allegedly removed an artwork perceived as “too political.”

Local artist Reighn Buenaventura with Twitter handle @reighnism aired his frustration on the microblogging platform last Monday, July 27, accusing the administrators of Guhit Pinas removed his artwork from Facebook because it was apparently too political.

Buenaventura attached a screenshot of his entry and juxtaposed it to a screenshot of another art piece that was “accepted,” which was a leaf art of President Rodrigo Duterte’s face dedicated to his Fifth State of the Nation Address.

An artist from Laguna named Mary Mae Dacanay, who was already notable for her leaf art of other celebrities, created the leaf art of Duterte and shared it on Guhit Pinas’ group page.

Dacanay made headlines in the past because of her leaf art portraits of Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Paolo Ballesteros, and GMA News Anchors Mike Enriquez, Mel Tiangco, Jessica Soho, Vicky Morales, and Atom Araullo.

The rejected work, meanwhile, was a digital art of men wearing crop tops carrying tote bags with “Oust Duterte” signs. His caption read: “Normalize men wearing crop tops.”

“Guhit Pinas removed my art (left), saying it was political while this on the right is being appreciated,” he said.

Buenaventura later informed his followers that he already left Guhit Pinas “for good.”

His main tweet immediately circulated on Twitter with more than 23,000 likes and 4,900 shares.

It also set off other artists at the platform to tell similar bad experiences with the Guhit Pinas community on Facebook, which later made the group’s name trend on local Twitter.

Others criticized the online space as being overly critical or unappreciative of other styles of art.

“No appreciation of other styles besides realism, and it’s rampant with a very traditional way of thinking; hence the repetitive content,” Twitter user @wondernerd1 said.

Another user quipped that members of Guhit Pinas are fans of Liza Soberano and Catriona Gray.

Twitter user @paintaurus, meanwhile, enumerated other online art communities where young artists could showcase their works.

Based on its profile, Guhit Pinas Inc. is a “registered non-profit organization that envisions the Philippines as the Art Capital of Asia” with several chapters comprising thousands of members nationwide.

Guhit Pinas’ response

Following the wave of criticisms on Twitter, in a statement issued on July 28, one of Guhit Pinas’ administrators, Rodman Papros, explained his team removes posts of artworks that appeared to incite insurgency or protest against the government.

Screenshot by Interaksyon

While he did not name the artist he was referring to, Papros cited the word “oust” in posts that the management would remove.

“Pinapayagan namin ang mga opinion sa caption basta maayos ang delivery, hindi kalokohan, at hindi bastos. Hindi namin pinapayagan ang mga call for insurgency o panawagang mag-alsa laban sa gobyerno, tulad ng salitang ‘OUST.’ Hindi ginawa ang group na ito para sa purpose na yan,” he said.

Papros also claimed that Guhit Pinas as an organization is neutral in politics. However, he said that portraits of politicians such as Duterte are welcome.

“Huwag kayong magtaka kung marami kayong nakikitang portrait ni PDuterte sa group. Marami kasing nagpo-post eh. Kung gusto niyong makakita ng portrait ng politikong sinusuportahan ninyo, eh ‘di mag-post din kayo,” he said.

This rule is also stated in the updated rules and regulations of the community, wherein portraits of political figures are allowed.

Editorial cartoons are also allowed but artists have to submit them first to a different photo album.