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Dimasalang is a group of artists co-founded by Sofronio Ylanan Mendoza (SYM) and late artist-writer E. Aguilar (Abe) Cruz in Manila, Philippines in 1968. The Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, used “Dimasalang” as a pseudonym, and a street in Manila was named after this alias. Dimasalang Street was the home and workshop of SYM, together with an energetic group of emerging artisans. This is where the group originated.
The Dimasalang artists began as a very casual informal group of painters who congregated in scenic venues in Manila and its surrounding suburbia to paint on-the-spot. They captured the local landscapes on canvas -- and, through the years, formed a solid bond.
The group promoted impressionism and figurative art in the Philippine art scene in the late 60s through to the 70s when modern art was at the height of its popularity. SYM's influence led a 'quiet revolt' in the art movement challenging the predominance of modern art by re-introducing the beauty of traditional art. The Dimasalang artists bridged the gap between these two movements and “established its eminent niche in Philippine art”.
The original Dimasalang artists (Dimasalang I) included Emilio Aguilar (Abe) Cruz, Ibarra dela Rosa, Andy Cristobal Cruz, Romulo Galicano and SYM. As a natural-born teacher, SYM mentored many artists. He encouraged the formation of Dimasalang II which consisted primarily of his students in Manila, namely Nestor Villanueva, Carlos Cadid, Godofredo Mendoza and Vic Larosa.
SYM moved his family in 1981 to Vancouver Canada. Here, he generously shared his vast knowledge, expertise, and philosophies relating to art. The first set of Canadian Dimasalang in the mid-80s included Edgardo Lantin, Rod Pedralba, Noel Trinidad, Simeon Dee, Maria Apelo Cruz and Jess Hipolito.
Dimasalang III International Artist Group is a registered non-profit society based in British Columbia. Its vision is to raise awareness of contemporary arts and culture; further develop artistic talents, and encourage a positive impact and contribution to the community. The group offers mentorship, life drawing, en plein air painting in the summertime and opportunities to join group exhibitions.
The group continues to grow and remain active. “Sym’s Dimasalang lives on.”