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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, November 11, 2019
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Charlie Co is outstanding Negrosanon

Ninfa Leonardia

This Cinco de Noviembre was a glory day for visual artists in Negros Occidental as Charlie Co received the Outstanding Negrosanon Award for visual arts.

Co takes the recognition as an act of giving voice to visual arts, a discipline he has spent most of his waking hours practicing and professionalizing, not just for himself but for a community of artists who looks to him for guidance and inspiration.

Though he did not expect the recognition nor does he work in order to get an award, he was quick to recognize the weight of affirmation and confirmation of the work that has been done to further the interests of the arts in general.

Co realizes how much of a game changer a good space can become. He has given 14 years to bring Orange Project to its present state that is at par with world standards in terms of potential and possibility. The history of Orange Gallery has commanded the respect of galleries, collectors, and curators in the Philippines and the world. The direct effect of this is that Negrense artists are getting the regard and opportunities that come with respect; they have gained economic value and look towards their craft as both a passion and a career.

Co is a Filipino artist born in Bacolod in 1960. He is a pride of Negros and an internationally renowned visual artist, who has long been recognized as a chronicler of our times, having rendered on canvas a surreal interpretation of more than 30 years of realities. His art is known to provoke and inspire reflection on current issues.

Co studied Fine Arts at La Consolacion College in 1984 and at Philippine Women's University in 1986. Initially identified as a social realist in the mid-80s, he gradually shifted interest in expressionism and surrealism. He held his first solo exhibition in 1983 in his hometown, and has since had more than 40 solo shows in the Philippines and abroad. He has represented the country in group shows and biennales in Australia, Brazil, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom. His preferred media are oil on canvas, pen and ink on paper, terracotta sculptures, mixed media, and pastel on paper.

He is co-founder of Black Artists in Asia Association Inc., and one of the founding fathers of Visayan Islands Visual Artists Exhibition-Conference. His major exhibitions include Charlie Co and Antonio Wong Joint Exhibition in 2006, Art with a Social Conscience, Angels and Demons with Li Xinping, as well as Framing Red China at Osage-Soho, Hong Kong in 2007, Possession in Osage Gallery-Kuan Tong, Hong Kong and Universal Theatre, and a two-man show in Singapore in 2008, as well as A Tsinoy in China in 2010, among many others. He has represented the country in exhibitions in Tokyo Japan, Sao Paolo Brazil, Brisbane Australia, and Korea, along with an art residency in Beijing.

His distinctions include the 13 Artists Award by the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan by the City of Manila, and the Dr. Jose Rizal Award for Excellence by the Kaisa and Manila Times, among others.

Co shares that “every 5th of November, I always joke that my birthday is such an important occasion that the whole province of Negros Occidental declares it as a holiday! But this year is extra special, with an extra special gift! Thank you to everyone who greeted me on my birthday and a bigger THANK YOU to the province of Negros Occidental for the recognition. This is not just for me but for the whole visual arts community. We will not stop our advocacy in promoting the arts in this side of the Visayan islands! Padayon ang taliambong!”

He is now preparing to pass on to the next generation of artists a very strong advocacy and the kind of space where they can develop substantial outputs that the artists of before only dreamt about.*

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