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A true encounter with art, many say, is an otherworldly experience. A viewer, totally absorbed by the nuances of feelings that an artwork conveys, is taken into a parallel dimension—an escape from the material into a world where anything is permissible. In this obliging state, he discovers truths and gains wisdom. Such is the proposition that art collector and gallery owner Remigio “Boy” David hopes to present in Altro Mondo-Arte Contemporanea—a 140-sq m-gallery that houses the works of some of the most prolific contemporary Filipino and international artists. A retired banker who headed the European Operations of the former PCI Bank in its offices in Frankfurt and Milan, David has had intimate encounters with art. His position gave him the enviable chance to visit venerable art institutions and galleries. There, he further distilled his childhood passion for arts and developed a keen eye for what is truly beautiful.

“Many buyers acquire a piece of art only because of the name attached to it, and many artists only gain recognition after making considerable sales in prestigious auction houses. For me, the importance of an artwork comes from the connection it creates with the viewer. Art appreciation is a very personal experience and the strength of an artwork comes from its ability to convey messages that are true and personal to a viewer. An art work should strike me profoundly before I even think of buying it,” says David.
His interest in art began even when he was still a struggling student in Economics at the University of the Philippines. He discovered other realities and other truths by simply viewing an art work. While working in Italy after graduation, his passion for art compelled him to enroll in art academies in Rome and Florence where he studied art restoration.

Then, on a French government scholarship, he obtained his MBA at INSEAD in Fontainebleau. He worked for Banque Rothschild before moving on to PCI Bank where he eventually rose to the position of SVP and Head of European Operations. It was during this time of career advancement that he seriously began collecting paintings. He took part in small auctions and went on flea market expeditions where he discovered little-known paintings by 19th century Filipino masters. He also developed a great liking for the works of the Macchiaioli group—a rag tag band of Italian painters active in Tuscany in the second half of the nineteenth century. Seceding from the archaic tenets imposed by the Italian academies of art, the group took to the outdoors where they could paint under natural light and capture the colors without any artificiality.

The Macchiaioli’s brazen stance and the conspicuous art movement it started attracted David. Today, he owns a number of important Macchiaioli works which he keeps in Italian soil. His love for artists and artworks that bravely break new grounds and shape hitherto unknown frontiers in art finds distillation in Altro Mondo. Already, the gallery has created a buzz among connoisseurs, critics and artists for its bold and imaginative programs that exhibit artists known for their unabashed and expressive styles.

In Altro Mondo’s inaugural show David gathered some of the most prolific Filipino artists and two outstanding international figures to exhibit during the gallery’s opening. Gracing the event were works by Gabriel Barredo, Norberto Carating, R.M. de Leon, Mario de Rivera, Roberto Feleo, Romulo Galicano, Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi, Julie Lluch, Fernando Modesto, Justin Nuyda, Ramon Orlina, Eghai Roxas and Nestor Vinluan. Joining the esteemed roster were two celebrated artists: Frenchman Etienne Gros and Chilean Francisco Sepulveda.

For “High Notes” David is set to once again stimulate the Philippine art scene by gathering four big names in the world art scene: Pat Andrea, Ernest Pignon-Ernest, Vladimir Veličković and Antonio Segui. “I’m excited because an assembly of this scale and significance has not been done even in Europe,” he tells. “High Notes” gathers for the first time four Paris-based artists who have gained notoriety—and acclaim—for their specific styles that helped lay the groundwork for the advancement of contemporary art.

Pat Andrea is one of the world’s leading artists in the fields of neo-figuration and magical realist painting. Argentinean Antonio Segui’s artistic expressions are known to dwell on the grim, injected by humor and involve the energy of human pursuits.  Ernest Pignon-Ernest has constantly been lauded for his site-based figurations that deal with such issues as the nuclear arms race, apartheid, and the HIV epidemic in South Africa. Considered as one the leaders of the Nouvelle Figuration art movement, Vladimir Veličković is known for the intense expression emanating from his intemporal subjects.

For ‘High Notes’ David is set to once again stimulate the Philippine art scene by gathering four big names who have gained acclaim—and notoriety—for the stalwart work with which they have helped blaze the trail for new directions in the global contemporary art scene.  “I’m excited because an assembly of these four artists has not been done even in Europe,” David confesses.

David believes that Filipino artists, including the emerging forces in the Philippine Contemporary Art Movement, are ne less talented and expressive than their European, American or Asian counterparts. Already, Altro Mondo displays the innovative and imaginative expressions by young Filipino artists as CJ Tañedo, Tyazo Almario, Jigger Cruz, Melvin Culaba, Leeroy New, Anton Mallari, Andres Barrioquinto and Jason Montinola.

“With young and skilled artists like these who are not afraid to explore the boundaries of their imaginations and creativity in expressing universal themes, there is certainly hope and a bright future for Philippine Art.

With Altro Mondo’s ‘High Notes’, David puts into operation the intrinsic objectives of his gallery: to bring the best of art to the Filipino public.  “My purpose,” he articulates, “is to build up and enrich the quality of artworks that can be made available for public viewing.  These are works that can be said to have the ‘X-factor’ when it comes to the quality of the artists and the art itself.  I want to give the artists and the public a chance to see the heights of what is potentially within our capacity to achieve with art.”

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