In her 30-year practice as a visual artist, Abano's shifting from painting
to printmaking brought her to a passionate encounter with the medium which she continuously explores, creating various imagery in mixed media print works, sculptures, and installations, always originating from traditional printmaking techniques. An active visual artist, she has mounted 22 solo exhibitions and has participated extensively in local and international exhibitions since 1986.
Abano won the Grand Prize in the Painting Category of the Art Association of the Philippines Open Art Competition in 1987, and the Grand Prize in the Philippine Art Awards in 2006. She is the first recipient of the Alliance Française de Manille Philippine Artist Residency Program which brought her to Cité International des Arts in Paris for a 3-month artist residency and further training in various intaglio techniques at La Taille Douce in 2011. She is a 2012 grantee of the Asian Cultural Council for a 6-month artist residency at the International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP) and the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop (RBPMW) for training in lithography. She was the Philippine Representative for Speaking House Art Camp in Kerala, India (2012); in the 27th Asian International Artists Exhibition Art Camp in Krabi, Thailand (2013); the Visual Art for ASEAN in Nan Province, Thailand (2015); Barehands Asian Artist Residency Project in Bandung, Indonesia (2015), Fukuoka, Japan (2016), and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2017).
After serving as President of the Philippine Association of Printmakers (PAP) from 2007 to 2012, she is now a member of the board and continues to actively participate in the PAP projects. She has given numerous lectures and workshops in printmaking all over the Philippines. Abaño has a Master in Fine Arts Degree from the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts where she is currently a teacher. Concurrently as an art educator, she continues to devote her time in her art practice and involves herself in various art-related projects.
She was featured in the Asia Art News in the November to December 2014 Issue, Hong Kong. Her exhibition, "Beyond my Body," included in Manila CNN Philippines Life Best of 2016 Art this year, January 2018.
”What I try to do, when writing down my music, is to make it say simply and directly that which is in my heart when I am composing". Thus, spoke the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, whose 6-part composition “Moments Musicaux” (Musical Moments) served as the inspiration for Ambie Abaño’s show now on view at the Altro Mondo Arte Contemporanea.
Adapting the same title for her show, Abaño took cognizance of the work’s history, which was impelled by Rachmaninoff’s reproduction of the musical forms of previous eras, such as the nocturne, song
Without words, barcarolle, virtuoso etude, and themes and variations. Indeed, visual and musical parallels have long been propounded by the pioneer abstractionist, Wassily Kandinsky, also a Russian, who compared specific colors to musical instruments.
He was, in effect, the inventor of “musical painting”. Indeed, it is the same yearning that inspired our own HR Ocampo to regard his abstract works as “visual melodies”.
Against this brief historical background, the viewer will be in a better place to appreciate the latest body of works by one of the country’s superlative printmakers. Indeed, for a well-nigh 20 years, Ambie Abaño has been a pillar of the Contemporary graphic art movement in the country. With printmakers within the edifice of the Folk Arts Theater, generations of Filipino printmakers have had the opportunity here to improve their art and craft. Ambie has served this association as president for 6 years, and to this day, the workshop has become a second home to her, even as she continues to teach the graphic arts at the state university.
In her younger years, Ambie herself learned to make woodcut from observing other graphic artists at work in the workshop. Her knowledge of the craft has been enlarged by studies in New York for lithography and in Paris for viscosity. But woodcut seems to have been an ideal medium for her temperament. Ambie’s large scale works in woodcuts in shows, titled “Lifted Veils” and “Beyond My Body,” both dominantly representational and figurative, prove this beyond a doubt.
In contrast, these current works are done in an abstract vein, in a panoramic span of over 8 feet, evoking distant horizons of seas and above, a turmoil of clouds, a pitted surface texture of a multitude of cuts and gouges, each stroke literally, a physical caress, a tender awakening of the wooden surface, responding in action equivalent, bereft of ingratiating shrill colors, save for some subtle and gentle hues that barely rise to a whisper. While woodcut print has been pulled, the exhibited works include the massive engraved planes of tanguile wood.
How refreshing to realize that these new body of works came into existence from Ambie’s intense pleasure in music and her intimate connection with nature and the universe. Often, she would take a break from her work at the print workshop, on an evening, stepping out on the edge of the breakwater, and simply immersing herself in the immense space and grandeur of the overhead skies, the billowing clouds dispersing, by turns shrouded in a gathering darkness and coming to twinkling light at the gradual appearance of a million stars.
With the music of Rachmaninoff — or of Chopin, Schubert, or whichever composer’s music has gripped her in that particular moment — ringing in her ears, she is grateful that art has always been the joy and redemption of her earthly existence.
To paraphrase Rachmaninoff, Ambie Abaño has made these marvelous woodcuts as simply and directly, in response to that which is in her heart.