His work has been praised throughout the Philippines and other countries like South Korea, Singapore and the United States.
Now, Canadians are going to see why Soliman L. Poonon has gained much success as a visual artist.
Poonon will be showcasing his works at the opening ceremony of this year’s exploAsian Festival in Vancouver.
It’s an important occasion for the Filipino artist as this is the first time he will present his works in Canada.
The explorASIAN is an annual festival organized by Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society (VAHMS).
The festival takes place each May to coincide with the National Asian Heritage Month across Canada.
The festival includes art and cultural programs, activities and events produced in collaboration with various partners from the diverse communities in Metro Vancouver.
As an organization, VAHMS aims to recognize Asian Canadian participation as an integral part of Canadian society.
The opening ceremony will be held at the SFU Woodwards World Art Centre, also known as the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts (149 West Hastings Street), in downtown Vancouver.
The free event takes place on April 27, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.
Poonon hails from Tulogan, Songco, Bukidnon, the ancestral tribal lands of the Talaandig people of the Philippines. He began cultivating his artistic eye as a child by observing the cultural practices of his people and was particularly inspired by the work of his blacksmithing grandfather, Apo Pablito Poonon.
As a young teen, he received mentorship in soil painting from Waway Saway and Tating Suliba and was introduced to sculpting by Kublai Milan. At 20 years old, inspired by epics, artisans and surrounding nature, Poonon began a serious devotion to painting which was upheld by the encouragement of his peers.
For over 12 years, Poonon has worked with earth based mediums including soil, wood, cement, pelt and clay. His portfolio boasts paintings, carvings, sculptures, instruments, traditional knives, lanterns and furniture.
In 2009, Soliman received the Philip Morris Philippine Art Award for his larger than life-size painting Cultural Identity.
In 2016, Poonon married Filipina-Canadian, Andrea Vargas. In 2017, their first child was born. In 2018, Soliman arrived in Canada. It is his first time to cross the great Pacific Ocean and immerse in a western culture. He endures many culture shocks and great homesickness but to learn the world that his wife comes from is important to the weaving of their family’s stories.
In February 2019, JR Guerrero introduced Soliman to Bert Monterona, an active cultural worker promoting Filipino artists working on Filipino arts and culture. Poonon and Monterona are enthusiastic to share a love of visual arts and Philippine culture and they discovered that the two of them are ancestrally from the same tribe -Talaandig people from Bukidnon, Mindanao.
In ongoing interactions, the two of them share ideas and cultural exchanges while dreaming up ways to continue telling stories that inspire connections to Flipino roots and culture.
Poonon and Monterona were invited by Leo Cunanan Jr., a director in the board of VAHMS, to exhibit their works in the April 27 opening ceremony of this year’s explorAsian Festival.