Arts & Culture

Artdialogo: Colour as a New Language

50 years of bilateral relations between Singapore and the Philippines

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Art knows little-to-no boundaries and distinctions. If anything, it plays a catalytic role in memorialising human activity for study, interpretation and inspiration. Endeavours in the field have indisputably served as records and imprints of cultural findings captured in particular moments in time.

In the latest century of civilisation, art has adopted a unique function in promoting diplomatic relations in an ever-changing international climate. Artdialogo flourishes from the same focus and mission. This year’s initiative celebrates the 50th anniversary of bilateral relations between Singapore and the Philippines.

In collaboration with the Embassy of the Philippines in Singapore as well as meaningful partnerships with the National Youth Council, ASEAN Youth Fund, 18/20 Temenggong and Global Cultural Alliance, Artdialogo 2019 intersects during Art Trek 13 to further harmonise growing ties between the two countries.

The platform was founded in 2016 by Anna Karina Jardin, a Filipino artist and community development worker who is currently based in Malaysia.


Growing up, Karina was an active volunteer with different NGOs. She eventually pursued studies in international relations, diplomacy and development policy. The name Artdialogo was inspired by her participation as a student in Mondialogo, a programme of UNESCO and Daimler Chrysler. She was among representative students who were tasked to create solutions to world issues during the event.

“I helped teachers with prop and poster designs; these simple things became vital to my character building. [These opportunities] honed my leadership and communication skills,” says Karina, as she recalls her creative formative years.

“Art became my anchor in a fast-paced world. It was a tool for reflection. Project management allowed me to balance emotions and logical thinking. Art helped me relate to all kinds of people,” she adds, having since dedicated herself to a career in fostering conversations and programmes for communities.

Previous Artdialogo installations have motivated creatives to showcase their own work more. “Initiatives that have spawned from Artdialogo aim to remove the notion that if you’re just an artist, you can’t go anywhere. I’m hoping to open more doors for the younger generation to amplify their aspirations,” says Karina.

“We are so grateful for our partners who share the same vision. This has amplified the potential to make our initiatives more accessible and beneficial to the youth. In the span of three years, in the region as well as in Central Asia, we have impacted thousands of children with more partnerships,” she continues.

Artdialogo Singapore partners with Hwa Chong International School and HFSE International School for its community engagement segment. Creatively Unboxing The Gifts of Cultural Synergy is a workshop aimed at inculcating an appreciation for the cross-cultural relations and opportunities that ASEAN has forged for the youth.

SiningSkwela 2019

Underpinning art as a tool for understanding and knowledge, the workshop creates a free space for students to learn more about diverse backgrounds and a shared ASEAN identity. “We want to teach the value of the creative process to students. We hope they learn to articulate their thoughts better through art and, of course, make new friends along the way,” says Karina.

Though Karina observes that a lot has already been done in the areas of economics, technology, politics and sustainability in ASEAN, she believes, however, that “art can be used to reconnect and re-evaluate who we are and what we will become in a more integrated region.”

“We can never be lost through all these changes if we know our heritage,” explains Karina, as she stresses the importance of planning more initiatives to help young professionals and creatives nurture more lovers, writers, storytellers and artists in the region.

Temenggong 18/20 will house a colourful tapestry of stories by generations of Filipino creatives that will be flown in for the exhibit. Works by Fernando Sena, Dean Louie Bautista, Jessie Marinas, Anthony Fermin, Maxi Ramos, Micah Hilton, Alberto Magsumbol, Chareze Stamatelaky, as well as Karina Jardin, will be showcased to spark conversations about Filipino culture.

“As a Filipino, I would like to share to the ASEAN youth the value of grit,” explains Karina, having come from a country that often faces political and environmental turmoil and adversity.

“We have a large appreciation for the arts back home; it’s a tool for social mobility.”

In Karina’s own work as an artist, she combines cubism and collage. A recurring theme of a mother and a child is in every collection. She explains: “The Philippines is a matriarchal society with a lot of strong women. The recurring subject allows me to emulate the purity of intention and love between mother and child. This also shows my deep devotion to my own mum and to what women are capable of — nurturing lives.”

For Karina, Filipino art offers two sides of a story about its society. It predominantly taps into a part of culture that has been shaped by faith and heritage. “[Filipino] artists come from diverse genres and interests, but they all have a good story to tell. I find that they’re all bold in sharing their own realities. Not everyone has the guts to express what they truly feel.”

Karina expounds on the power of art and its universality.

“When words fail, colours can enunciate feelings. Colour as language becomes accessible to people of different backgrounds. With the honesty that comes with every stroke of a paint brush, art can communicate both the past and the present.”

She continues to advocate for art’s role in global understanding, mobility and diplomacy, paving new trails to mobilise the Artdialogo community and platform through great distances, grounded on the same dream.


Artdialogo 2019 runs from September 26 at Temenggong 18/20.

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