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Veronica Ibarreta’s Enchanting Art Exhibit Is a Love Letter to Two Distinct Traditions

Veronica Ibarreta’s exhibit entitled “Vestido” is a tribute to the Philippines’ and Mexico’s fashion traditions


Popular for her pointillism and floral series, Veronica Ibarreta is a Filipina visual artist who values and tackles important themes of identity and nationalism, individuality, and female empowerment. She has flourished as a solo and group exhibitor and has since embarked on glorious shows. 


Last July, Veronica Ibarreta’s exhibit entitled “Vestido” is a love letter to the women in her land. Her exploration on the traditional ensembles worn by women in the Philippines is a rumination on how this traditional range of clothing have shaped and continued to influence identities amidst the ever-active and ever-changing climate of Filipino and Mexican fashion


Veronica’s take on tradition makes “Vestido” a cross-cultural manufacture between two cultures and countries that are brimming with history and art heritage. Her masterpieces are mounted and housed in institutions, hospitality spaces, and several personal and private collections in the country.

Veronica Ibarreta’s Enchanting Art Exhibit Is a Love Letter to Two Distinct Traditions
Veronica Ibarreta (left) | Veronica Ibarreta


Scroll down for our Q&A session with Veronica:


Could you tell us more about the concept behind your exhibit?

“This exhibit delves into the captivating world of traditional women’s attire in the Philippines and in Mexico.”


What inspired you to start this exhibit?

“The inspiration for this exhibit was sparked by a close friend from the Mexican Embassy, who introduced me to the enchanting connection between the Filipiniana and traditional Mexican dresses. As we delve into the grace of the Maria Clara, known as the Filipiniana or the Terno, we discover its distinct puffy sleeves, the elegant blouse (Baro), the flowing skirt (Saya), and the delightful Panuelos, or scarves. Meanwhile, in Mexico, we embrace the alluring charm of the Huipil, a loosely-fitting cap-sleeve tunic meticulously crafted from two or three rectangular fabric pieces expertly stitched together, creating intricate head and arm openings. I discovered that traditional Mexican dresses share a remarkable resemblance to the Baro and Saya, and found that fascinating.”


There also seems to be a fascination with Mexico, and you’ve also exhibited there. How are Filipinos and Mexicans linked?

“Despite being continents apart, Manila and Acapulco enjoyed a robust trading relationship throughout the galleon trade from 1565 to 1815. It was a 250-year-long exchange between the two cities. It’s no wonder that throughout those centuries, these cultures intertwined and fostered a profound connection. Moreover, my profound fascination with Mexico is deeply rooted in the fact that my cherished friend has become an extension of my family. Our regular Friday night gatherings at their home home have not only allowed us to exchange cultural insights but also share our mutual love for music, food, art, and culture. The striking similarities between Filipino and Mexican cultures highlight a profound cross-cultural dialogue ,particularly evident in our distinct clothing traditions, which reflects the innate human desire for warmth and protection.”


You often move between Manila in and Bicol. How does this enhance or inform your art?

“Balancing my time between Manila and Bicol has truly elevated my artistry. I find myself more  in tune with my creativity, significantly more productive, and enjoying a sense of tranquility as I delve into my artistic endeavors. Additionally, managing these responsibilities while preparing for an upcoming art exhibit in Bicol has added a new dimension to my creative journey.”


You often tackle issues about feminism and nationalism, are these two themes also that play a big part in your work?

“Absolutely, female empowerment and Philippine culture play a significant role in my work. They serve as foundational themes, providing me with a lens through which I interpret the lives of those we encounter in our daily interactions. In alignment with these themes, I find myself drawn to the exploration of strength and power, using symbols of hope and nature to illustrate a profound understanding of life’s delicate balance.”


Pointillism takes a lot of discipline. What goes through your mind as you create your work of art?

“Pointillism is truly my passion when it comes to painting. It truly requires a tremendous amount of focus and discipline. As I create each piece, my mind becomes attuned to the task. I meticulously count every dot, especially for larger canvases, like a 36 x 48 inches, which translates to approximately 3.8m dots. I maintain a list, and once the painting is complete, I calculate the dots. During the process, my  thoughts often revolve around humanity, the beauty of nature, and most importantly, radiating positivity.”


What would you want to be known for as an artist?

“My aspiration as an artist is to be recognized for creating impactful work that resonates with society. I hope to leave a lasting impression as an artist who contributes meaningfully to the world around me.”


Are there artists who have inspired you through the years?

“Absolutely, there are several artists whose work has consistently inspired me over the years including Nassi Inglessis, Gina Osterloh, Vincent van Gogh, Joan Mitchell, Luis Barragan (the Mexican Architect), Olivia d’ Aboville, and Ciane Xavier.”


Who are the women who have inspired you through the years?

“When it comes to women who have left a lasting impact on me, these incredible individuals have not only been a source of inspiration but also unwavering support throughout my journey: Geolette Esguerra; Daniela Sevilla; Kara David; Nina Alagao; Ciane Xavier; Julia Uy Cea; Michelle Roxas; Clarise Dizon; Joerell Wilzen Tan; Margarita Enriquez; and Bernadine Cruz.”


What are you planning next?

“Currently, I'm immersed in preparations for two upcoming group shows in September, followed by a solo exhibition in December. Looking ahead, my plans for next year include venturing beyond the Philippines, hoping to explore artistic opportunities internationally by 2024.”


Lead photos courtesy of Veronica Ibarreta

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