A group exhibition featuring the works of Jef Carnay, Noel Soler Cuizon, Don Djerassi Dalmacio, Karen Ocampo Flores, Manny Garibay, Lotsu Manes, Kirby Roxas, and Wesley Valenzuela
Of Realities and Mysteries
Though “Misteryo ng Liwanag” may be considered as a gathering of notable artists highly identified as catalysts of the TutoK exhibitions that made significant exhibitions beginning 2006, their works stand on their own, autonomous from the burdens of history while carrying on the legacy of critique and discernment through thought-provoking pieces. As the artists dwell on themes of transfiguration and enlightenment, their creative energies focus not only on looking back, relocating present positions and shining the spotlight on thresholds to envisioned changes that still hang, precariously, on hope.
Wesley Valenzuela presents light-boxed assemblages with his
iconic symbols in different juxtapositions showing graphic figures of myriad
objects interspersed with smoke and flames. Symbols of urban life fill his
gold-framed pieces, reiterating the artist’s fascination with the grit and
grime of daily existence. With the dissonance and chaos of city life, he still
employs balance and symmetry in laying out the imagery in each piece.
For Karen Ocampo Flores, the words Rey de Oros label what
appears to be a tarot card, the central figure King or Kingmaker. The usual
interpretation of the card presents a king of gold embodying maturity and
reliability, prudence and intelligence. Any person who is represented as such
is linked to success and status. In Flores’ work, however, the figure sports no
head but an opened eye confronting the audience, with golden orbs and visions
of royalty milling about.
Lotsu Manes’ painting rides the popularity of the ten-year
challenge in social media through the comparison of two scenes side by side –
to the left is a rice field in its rich, resplendent, verdant glory, while to
the right, a termite-eaten interpretation of the same scene shows the ravages
of time and destruction of agricultural lands as they are repurposed for
commercial use. In the midst of both images, a farmer stares into the horizon,
his expression unreadable.
Don Djerassi Dalmacio’s subject dangles on anticipation,
waiting for what’s next. Anxiety and fear of unseen futures serve as background
for the lone dog guarding his turf and waiting for anything or anyone to
arrive. Only then can it take action, whether to bark loudly in alarm or
whimper in dread. The palpable uncertainty in the painting translates to
sentiments found in the public sphere, given the unpredictability of actions that
may be launched by authorities in the blink of an eye.
Manny Garibay’s painting contain uniformed cadets finding
themselves immersed in water, numerous nameless, featureless individuals
stripped of identifying characteristics as they find themselves thrown together
in a common cause to serve. What is unseen, however, are the dangers they find
themselves in institutions that are not only supposed to prepare them to man
armies, but also keep them safe while in the process of learning how to destroy
A mixed media assemblage created by Noel Soler Cuizon sports
figures as well, with a more varied set of characters. Angels, saints and
cherubs find themselves with anting-antings
and oracions, while IP women are
portrayed with mestizas. A smaller drawing serves as punctuation “with the
whiff of rust and fire” which coins Duterterizing as it portrays PRD with the
text overlay Hanggang Matapos ang
Kailanpaman (Until Forever Ends) draw commentary on fanatic declarations of
loyalty and blind devotion.
Kirby Roxas continues his exploration of lenticular paintings
in his piece, with a seeming angel/savior figure as a central character. People
flock towards this figure, their backs turned away from the audience as they
appear entranced by it. Trudging towards the same direction en masse to a structure looming in the
distance, a different angle to the right of the piece paints the image in
Jef Carnay’s 7-piece performance object spell out SALVAJE
with each coffee and tea stained wood rendered with acrylic, pen and colored
pencil drawings that appear like flash cards, but take the form of floor
warning signs. They then entice the viewer to read and re-interpret known
meanings of salvaje whichin local parlance means bad, influenced
by the Spanish word for savage and uncivilized. The objects take the space of
the artist’s body in the space.
In the context of current socio-political and economic issues faced by every Filipino, there seem to be dark clouds hovering overhead, enveloping our collective consciousness. “Misteryo ng Liwanag” is a gentle reminder that somewhere, light still exists, and change – real change – is always another day away. What the exhibition brings together is a potent representation of each artist’s most pressing concerns as both observer and chronicler – witnessing similarities of then and now, they spring a collective challenge to audiences and fellow artist-stakeholders – what to do now? Will somebody else take action to light up and make sparks?
Words by Kaye O’Yek