About The Artist

Elisa Tan (1937-2022)

Born in China but a resident of the Philippines since 1938, Elisa Tan’s art practice was as eclectic and unpredictable as her life. Elisa graduated from UP Diliman with a degree in Fine Arts in 1963, later taking up prestigious art residencies in New York, Paris, and Amsterdam including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in 1970. Her closest encounter with mainstream recognition came when she settled in Paris where she would spend the next twenty years of her life. It was in Paris that she would hold her most popular solo exhibitions, featuring large scale immersive works and art performances.

However, although she was a prolific and talented artist with a career spanning decades, she never found the success she desired and retired to Baguio in 1995 after a spiritual crisis, holding one final show in the Galerie Entre Temps at Espace Eiffel Braly in Paris before leaving Europe and her art practice behind. The art she had made over her fifty year career remained untouched, barely preserved or organized with no records of dates or names save a few key pieces. Instead it spend the next twenty-seven years in three large crates she had shipped from her home in Paris, largely unknown and unthought of by her and her new community. She became very involved in a local church, to which she would leave her estate in its entirety, including all of her works, on the stipulation that any profits derived from her works be used to fund various humanitarian causes she had worked on during her life.

Video footage shot February 2022, courtesy of Jovi and Cristina Juan

It was only days before she died that she expressed interest in revisiting some of her creations. Her works, now under the care of the church she loved, are in the process of being archived and preserved.*

*Some text of this Bio was submitted on October 10, 2023 as part of “Emerging Narratives: Elisa Tan”, for Prof. May Datuin’s Art Studies 143 class.