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Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi (Photo Credit: Regie Flores’ Facebook)

Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi: How a woman blended in a man’s printmaking world

Printmaking used to be a man’s world until Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi came into the scene with his womanly concepts of how she perceived life. 

It was in the late sixties when Ofelia dared to tread the road less travelled by women artists. Because printmaking was and still is an intricate, laborious art. It is more than physical unlike painting which doesn’t need to have series of plates to etch every image. From mainly black and white drawings to colored spaces and then applying the so-called viscosity coloring, printmaking is indeed very manual yet mechanical as well with the use of a presser. 

There is a generation of shades and hues to give the final image the desired concepts and visual dimensions. 

Here lies the challenge that Gelvezon-Tequie had to endure and to triumph. 

But because she is a graduate of Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, she was able to get past the hard work and brain-racking stimulus in every print she did. 

All her works in the beginning were products of her creative imagination and influences from other artists when printmaking was solely a male-oriented endeavor. 

Take for instance “Untitled I” which she did in 1969, an aquatint which is a technique in intaglio etching wherein grains of resin are sprinkled on a plate, then heated to make the grains adhere to the metal and placed it in an acid bath. It is pure dark while “Frames” which she did in 1968 as a collagraph and “Untitled II” in 1969 as an emboss art. 

But as she progressed, she was able to blend well in her allegorical pieces, one of them the images of saints in “estampitas” and medieval characters plus the concepts of folk religion like the spiritual facets of amulets. 

Meanwhile, in the 70s, 80s, 90s and the millennium, Gelvezon-Tequi’s works are more social realist influenced by her backgrounds in lit and art history. She is able to mix the real and personal, family life and losses, greed and corruption, the turbulent political climate etc. 

All these can be viewed and reflected in her show mounted by the Cultural Center of the Philippines curated by Ma. Victoria Herrera at the Bulwagang Juan Luna (Main Gallery) in “Allegories and Realities: Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi: In Retrospect” until May 24, 2020. Boy Villasanta 

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