Month: August 2020

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TAPUSIN! TAPUSIN!

August 23, 2020 | Archives | No Comments

A two-person exhibition featuring the works of Bam Garibay and Roger Mond.

The collective consciousness of a country riddled with a tumultuous history is often colourful, with a light that can be illuminating and, at its worst, blinding. And yet as the light dies down we find that woven within the fraying fabric of our shared humanity are a multiplicity of people, whose actions—both as individuals and within their own intimate circles—come to influence the tides of history as they push and pull their way around our lives. It is particularly in times like these that the need for a more encompassing understanding of our place in society—of various upbringings, personal agendas, and the glaring truths of our self-interests—is encouraged. After all, it is only through a thorough examination of our, at-present, harrowing realities that we are able to tread our own collective path towards a more progressive and unprejudiced society.

Tapusin! Tapusin!” dives into this social consciousness, to the players that paint the landscape of today as it continues to move and take form amidst the shifting chaos of our current reality. It touches on the collective whole, on the factions that make up modern society, drawing inwards, into the individual, as it stands in silent fortitude or acute fear, within the fractured spectrum of our capricious social condition. Artists Bam Garibay and Roger Mond explore the dipoles of these realities, weighing from one end to the other the factors that define our progression as a society, and the reasons behind their persisting influence.

Bam Garibay’s works deconstruct the various groups that make up contemporary society—from the educated minority and their nonviolent principles, often trapped between their self-interests and their pursuit of fleeting ideals; to the militant radicals, dauntless, passionate, moved by an intense yearning for political reforms; and to the military, in their faith in hard discipline, gripped with a desire to take over and redo the system in line with their own virtues. Each of these factions hold considerable force over the ever-shifting dynamics of Philippine contemporary politics, imprisoning the individual within its confines, and encouraging the idea that there is an inherent necessity to identify with either one of these systems, and in the process transforming persons into mere identities, faceless amidst the imposing ideals of a greater and more indomitable social phenomenon.

But Roger Mond’s works glide precisely into this territory, into the psyche of the human mind as it grapples with a spectre of a vision that is beyond reach. They examine our individual choices, and the infinite realities that arise from their ashes. There is an emphasis on the blurred lines between good and evil, of an inescapable turmoil that leads, more often than not, to a collective history rife with melancholia and betrayals, and tainted with the dissonance of a chaste hope and an encompassing system seemingly broken beyond repair. The struggle of the individual to make sense of a reality they are inevitably are a part of, and, for some, responsible in having created, whether it be through inaction, passivity, or a malicious desire to take exploit and take advantage of, takes form as an overarching sense of anxiety and dread, a disbelief in the notion that with enough effort, things could get better.

And so somewhere in between these tessellations we are left with the shattered fragments of an aching nation, a people still pining after better days, of bygone eras and hopeful futures. For many, it is far easier to give in and allow oneself to be tossed in the waves, praying only for deliverance without minding the hard work that often comes along with the pursuit of progress. And yet this collective consciousness, despite its persistence, is nebulous and fractured. It is shifting. Simple, impermanent changes are no longer enough. There needs to be an overhaul in the general mentality that keeps this nation drowning in its mistakes and sorrows, a re-rendering of exactly what is important to the Filipino spirit. It is only after breaking from this prison that we could finally tread a path into a fairer and more equitable world.

Words by Elle Lucena

I LOVE YOU, EARTH

August 23, 2020 | Archives | No Comments

A solo exhibition by David Ryan Viray.

Bypassing, Bystanding

In “I Love You, Earth,” David Ryan Viray wields his oil paints and brushes to tell multifaceted stories that map out a personal journey, employing emotions unsaid, pent-up dreams and covert desires into images that play on truth and perception. Ever fascinated about the artistic process and how it both consumes and contributes to one’s growth, his latest offerings are both inspired and given precaution by the writings of John Welwood, a noted psychotherapist and Buddhist teacher.

Viray dwells particularly on spiritual bypassing, defined by Welwood as “…tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks.” The artist has noticed the prevalence of this exercise in an inclination towards escapism with the pandemic currently plaguing the globe and affecting everyone’s lives. As a result, Viray intentionally made an effort to question known realities and the way they are seen on the surface level, playing with characters, scenarios and dreamlike tableaux to try digging deeper into harsh truths and inner trauma.

A familiar subject seems to be in the quandary in what to do next in The Consequence of a Good Painting is a Bad Painter, which suitably sets off the exhibition. The differing textures of painted canvas, wood, stone, bricks, and linear demarcations in the piece lead to an orb hanging precariously on edge, suspended by anticipation of what goes next, while the reflection on it seems to have been from an earlier stage in the process, a tabula rasa. Inertia counters the ephemerality of smoke from a lit pipe, this particular object evoking Magritte’s The Treachery of Images as what an image portrays and its nature seem to differ according to personal discernment, biases and artifice. 

Arty Fist may be applied to the artist’s experience of the day by day in trying to staying productive despite the paralyzing mental and psychological burdens of the pandemic. A study in five phases, common elements– a canvas that demands to be filled, a lamp that should bear both physical light and enlightenment, and grossly arthritic hands with fingers that do not quite know which way to turn speak of the absurdity and twistedness of the situation an artist finds himself in. The appearance of a cigarette that burns slowly into less and less tells of sanity and patience wearing thin, resources almost thoroughly spent.

Old Mang and the Mamaya Calendar portrays a place where nature takes over, plant life framing a sole survivor with a beloved pet, inspired by the jade-studded red jaguar throne found in the Kukulkan pyramid at the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. His twisted fingers betray the struggles he has been through to exist thus far, and it should tide him over in the coming days. The sun dappled light patterned on his leg offsets the texture of his surroundings, with a cascading white beard leading to a bent knee and his other foot stepping on floor markings reminiscent of the Mayan calendar, touching on conspiracy theories about the end of the world. 

The Professional Mishandling, the biggest piece in the exhibition, is also the most detailed and intricately planned as the scene moves inside a cave and appears as if viewed within a skull, with an eye socket looking out into the sky leading the viewer’s eye. Stalactites glow eerily as witness to a macabre operation, where mists permeate the air and otherworldly shadows inviting a disposition to pareidolia haunt the walls. A patient is brought back to life with a green orb that symbolizes rebirth, renewal and immortality. As witnesses melt away in awe of the procedure, the patient is given a new chance to rise in all his hooded power and potency.

Time stands still in Learning to Play with Fire, with two figures lounging across each other as shadows play in hidden caves and move with the flames of a bonfire. Whether seeking lessons in keeping fire stoked or the biology of warm bodies, there seems to be an intimate conversation in progress while the pair relate and engage. Warmth and comfort suffuse the image as we imagine them communing in vulnerability and defenselessness, perhaps with one teaching the other, both learning in the process of discovering mysteries of the unknown depths and crannies of each other’s psyche and physiology.

Bill Gates features a running man desperately clutching two objects, a canvas of precious artwork that signifies creative agency and production, and a Jin Chan or Money Toad biting gold coins for abundance. It seems the figure is propelled by a quest for power, fame and bounty, whether he is hastily making his escape or securing the objects he so desperately protects and want to keep, but who knows for sure? Beyond the wall, authorities who could be either protectors or oppressors bear silent witness, intentions unknown. Lively puppies, literal spirit(ed) animals join the dash for freedom, excitedly lapping at the man’s heels in gaiety and enjoying the chase.

With each at times humorous, often irreverent mise-en-scène in Viray’s paintings, the artist continues to broaden his practice. The repetition of visual elements: walls illustrate both the structures one finds himself in and aims to escape from; hands grasp at brushes, scalpels, canvases or books, bearing mundane objects as proof of life; caves echoing anatomical shapes show affinity to curves found in nature and human bodies; orbs, lamps, and bulbs express hunger for clarity and illumination; all encompass new worlds to explore under deep umbrage, spectral glows of green and purple, and vibrant blue skies. Tracing an artist’s journey from Viray’s early grayscale, faithfully detailed and minimally-grounded works to I Love You, Earth’s atypical and surreal expositions bordering on visual overload, it seems the direction is towards the expulsion of ambiguous narratives flowing instinctively from his being. If spiritual bypassing is one’s defense mechanism via evasiveness and substitution in the belief that spiritual bandages can cure psychological wounds, the artist goes on an adventure in internal bystanding, or, serving as both spectator and enabler as his innermost compulsions unleash themselves on canvas, rendering life and tangibility to themselves. Loose and reckless, perhaps, but undeniably loving.

Words by Kaye O’Yek

LITTLE WORLD

August 2, 2020 | Archives | No Comments

A group exhibition featuring the works of Paulo Amparo, Vincent Roleda, Rups Kiddo, Marilou Solano, and Andrew Tan.

Smaller and Smaller Spaces

In recent months, the world has undoubtedly become a much smaller place, not so much in distance, but in the spaces we have come to occupy. Physically, our surroundings feel much more spread out, far apart from one another, the once familiar places we used to frequent suddenly inaccessible and, to an extent, foreign. How long has it been since things were “normal”? In some strange fashion, even the word “normal” has become something of an ideal—too far to reach, and too distant even to remember. And yet out of this oddity arises the inescapable reality that as distances continue to widen in breadth, the internal spaces we have learned to occupy mentally have shrunk in scale, almost to the point where its very essence is rooted in a strong sense of internal isolation—lonely, quiet, and to others, altogether maddening—the very antithesis to our inherent social nature.

Little World examines these inner spaces our new situation has forced us into. It delves into the visceral realities of living in a world where mobility, once free and easy to grasp, is no longer within our reach. Artists Paulo Amparo, Vincent Roleda, Rups Kiddo, Marilou Solano, and Andrew Tan dive even deeper, into the very recesses of the mind as it imagines and reimagines reality within the context of this so-called “new normal.” More than just offering solutions, it’s also an exercise in character, as the artists use their creativity to grapple with their own fears and uncertainties. The works created are essentially products of the period in which they were made, a world of colours and details which, while displayed from the white walls of the gallery space, manage to transport the viewer and reimagine reality within the limits of what is allowed in our given setting. It is immersive and inviting, and offers a respite in these trying times.

But the exhibition goes beyond this—it also touches on the notion of choice. In each of the works, the artists take liberty in depicting how our collective responses to any given reality, whether they be limiting or not, still centers on our own individual choices. We learn to make do with what we have, and this ultimately impacts not only our own internal struggles, but also that of the people around us. The exhibition invites us to remember and reminisce, to strengthen and reestablish familiar bonds that have weakened over time. By doing so we are able to create a refuge in our minds, one that is infinitely more colourful and hopeful than the bleak world of today. It is within these spaces that we find respite, and where we are able to welcome others to partake in its warm shelter.

Words by Elle Lucena

DISTANCE BETWEEN US

August 2, 2020 | Archives | No Comments

A solo exhibition by Kirby Roxas.

Nowadays everyone is keeping themselves safe from this pandemic, physical distancing, and following other basic health measures. No more gathering, no more unnecessary errands, must stay at home to be safe. These health precautions affect our normal life, separate us from each other, depriving ourselves to go outside. This pandemic brings us insanity and depression. But on the bright side this is the time to spend more time to our family, to restore times from the past, to take a break from a busy life. In keeping ourselves in distance not only to fallow the basic health protocol but also to see ourselves apart.

Distance between us, is not only about our physical separation against this pandemic but this is also tackles the status of life, the beyond in pursuing the reality. The distance of forecasting of how to plan the future.

INFECTIOUS AFFECTION

A warm affection in a calm endless horizon. A tangible feeling of indescribable words, an intimate passion of a purely emotions. Beyond this utopian scenario is a landscape of uncertainly and insanity. An intangible feeling of doubt and separations, an inmate instead of intimate, precautions over passion. How can these emotions be a new normal?

FATAL ATTRACTION

A classical still life of a roses on a surreal human hand vase offering an attraction. On the other panel of the still life is depicted in an inverted color of human hand vase letting the flowers offered whimsically like a pyrotechnics. This negative hue images might turn attractions into doubt. Interactively the artwork can be also view thru the camera’s effect to conclude if it’s a Fatal Attraction?

QUARANTINA

A portrait of a house wife, who is always stay at home doing all the household chores and her duties as a mother. Putting house on her head signifies her commitment to be a devoted house wife while everyone is just around. During this time of pandemic everyone force to stay at home to be safe, but this house wife will do all the errands regardless of her safety. Quarantina, as a mother, as a Frontliner.

THE PROMISE

The promise land, the playing grounds. The pendulum of life in reaching dreams through promises. Sometimes the other is on top and the other is on the bottom. To play with this game of life one must exert effort to push the other on top. The gravity of promises pushes the dreams weightlessly.

HOW SOON IS NOW

A subliminal portrayal of engagement and commitment. A distance dating on planning a future in trials and in success, in the darkness and in brightness. Whispering the thoughts of intimacy in shaping the fruit of the same dreams.

Words by Kirby Roxas