A solo exhibition by Oddin Sena.
Grazing Farther and Further
“Pastures” chronicles Oddin Sena’s artistic journey as he continues his dissection of vulnerabilities in search of a deeper sense of the self. Drawing on reflections of the artist’s recent experiences, the pieces may be considered as a visual diary of sorts, with awe-inspiring landscapes that beckon from the horizon. Settings may be empty or cluttered, with the central subject – at times spliced, often segmented — accurately depicting the artist’s narrative. The artist portrays himself, his loved ones and his encounters with honesty and forthrightness, each brush stroke conveying self-scrutiny amidst life’s turmoil.
In Full House, the artist skillfully illustrates what may be a typical extended family: parents, brothers and sisters, cousins and uncles all crammed into a limited amount of space, including pets and even cars that are treated as family as well. A humorous take on the oft-discussed horror vacui, as well as the dearth of personal space in a Filipino household, Sena shows the situation as it is, and sets up the rest of his pieces in turn. Twisted Affection is all about loving pets who find themselves as treasured members of the family who have their individual characters— each pet is a being in itself, needing specific attention and caregiving. Taking care of them is added to the list of the artist’s everyday tasks, but he is also aware of the stress-relieving unconditional love they give him in return.
The artist also comes up with self-portraits that further expound on his reflections: in Balancing Act, he tries to find equilibrium on top of an apple, which signifies health. Different activities mean that he sometimes finds himself out of sorts, and it takes time management to pursue the various undertakings that he has all at the same time. Divided is his face, split into several pieces. As the artist grows, he finds disparate things begging for his attention, or sometimes, as a member of the family, he is given errands to run while he is doing something else which leads him longing for multiple bodies to manage everything. Stormy focuses on his face as well, but signifies darker days when he feels more confused and in dire need of mental de-cluttering. Limbs are bunched together, revealing haplessness and decreased mobility.
Universal concepts are brought to the fore in succeeding paintings, with Stuck standing out with eerie familiarity— aren’t those hands that we have seen before? Rendered in Sena’s looser painting technique are samples of hands and feet previously painted by Masters, creating a mountain with the RMS Titanic at its peak. Stuck and unmoving, the ship cannot be destroyed, but it does not proceed to its destination either. Perhaps this is the artist’s way of communicating not just a salute to the painters who have made their mark in history, but also his own desires to not be paralyzed by anxiety and self-analysis, to let go for things to run their own course. Out of Place shows a school of fish gasping at dry land instead of being in their natural habitat underwater. Barely alive but still breathing, they do not give up on living. Lurking is all about negative thoughts taking root in one’s consciousness, preying on insecurities and shortcomings. Toxic, destructive and deadly, they calmly wait for a weak moment, a chink in one’s armor, to manifest and metastasize.
Breaking the gratification in Sena’s chaotic juxtapositions are a few pieces that breathe with calm-inducing empty space as a promise of what lies beyond. Nothing There seems to be a blank, desolate field where nothing ever grows, but it also serves as respite for one’s vision, a way of stretching the viewer’s perspective to find something to look forward to. The focal piece, Looking For Greener Pastures, is monochromatic, quiet and brooding, making an insightful contribution to the collection. This is the artist constantly seeking growth and a better life for himself and his family, as well as illuminating a different take on his craft.
Gently accepting yet persistently moving, Sena prods and ponders with his paintings as his works take on a softer, yet more reflexive turn, revealing closer affinity to the empirical while not letting go of his ideals.
Words by Kaye O’Yek