It was Pablo Picasso who said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” By dust, I would like to believe he meant the troubles and concerns brought on by daily responsibilities — to step out of the monotony and allow ourselves to be inspired. It makes a lot of sense to me. That’s why, along with mani-pedis and full body massages, I’ve considered art museum visits a self-care activity.
And on my birthday a couple of weeks back, as a treat, I declared a “family art museum day” and visited the new creative hub of Ateneo University. It is called Areté, which, in Greek, means “excellence of any kind.”
Arete now houses the collection of Filipino contemporary pieces donated by Fernando Zobel to the Ateneo Art Gallery since the late 1950s until his passing in 1984. Many other gallerists, collectors and Ateneo alumni have contributed art since then, making the AAR a deep treasure trove of inspiration showcasing a vast array of artistic styles and expressions.
Multiple galleries and exhibits fill this three-storey building and we explored them all. There are even interactive pieces, like “Bubong” by Joe Bautista, which my daughters found fascinating.
To make it even more memorable, I encouraged Summer and Emma to not just walk (or run) past the art but really observe and figure out with me what it is they see — is it the sky? A table? A sad face? Is that water falling? Some are pretty obvious but others leave much room for imagination. There are pieces we simply don’t figure out but that’s okay. The mystery adds to its appeal.
I do enjoy trying to make sense of what I see, attempting to understand what brought about the color selection, the shapes, the flow, the tone of each piece. But mostly, gallery visits make me happy simply because I get to stay still for a few moments. I get a chance to look around carefully, intently, and let the colors and imagery wash over me. My senses are awakened but at the very same time, I am soothed and made calm.
Arete is a good place to “wash away” that “dust” of worldy cares. Located inside the grounds of the Ateneo de Manila University along Katipunan Avenue, Arete is open Tuesdays to Sundays, entrance free of charge. Check out their Facebook page for more details: