Swiss lends collection to Ifugao art exhibit at HKU

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A Manila-based Swiss man has lent his collection of Ifugao art pieces to the University of Hong Kong for an exhibition that will run until Feb. 4.

Martin Kurer, who has been living in the Philippines for some 20 years, said the pieces were among those he collected from the Philippines and overseas.

“I have always collected art pieces…and they gave me an opportunity [to hold an exhibit here at the HKU],” Kurer told Hong Kong News on the sidelines of the opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony of the exhibition.

Besides Cordillera art pieces, Kurer said he was also collecting Maranao art pieces.

“I began collecting art pieces and some of these I used as decoration for my house in Manila and for 20 years I was doing that and then at one stage, I had to be more serious about Ifugao art, but [it is something] you have to understand and you can not just use them as decoration, you have to invest time,” he said.

As a long-time resident of the Philippines, he said he was happy that he was seeing more Filipinos having more access to a good life.

“Companies in the Philippines now say it is difficult to find people which means the economy is doing well because companies are expanding,” Kurer said.

Meanwhile, Florian Knothe, HKU Museum and Art Gallery director, said putting up the exhibit was a way to recognize the importance of the Filipinos to Hong Kong.

“The [Filipino] community here is very important, we do different exhibitions to teach different subjects and to connect to different parts of the larger international and Hong Kong community and so this is also an important art form,” Knothe said.

A catalogue about the art pieces said the exhibition exemplifies the talent of the artists from the Ifugao, Bontoc and Kankanaey tribes in the northern Luzon region of the Philippines.