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CIRCA

April 11, 2019 | Archives | No Comments

A solo exhibition by Lui Gonzales at the ArtistSpace Gallery of the Ayala Museum

Tender Approximations

The faces in the crowd, the din of conversation in galleries and bars, the feel of body next to yours: this suite of works by Lui Gonzales for her second solo exhibition, “Circa,” evokes the familiar, the particular, the willfully remembered. Organized by Kaida Contemporary Gallery for ArtistSpace, the show comes into terms with the fugitive nature of memory, of how our remembrances blur and bleed into each other, achieving the trailing proof of music or a flash of color to the eye.

For much of her practice, Gonzales has been drawing on tracing paper portraits, objects, and scenes, layering them and tearing those layers intuitively to highlight, subdue, and partly conceal details as a way of showing how events and our recollections of them are nebulous and never transfixed. Shifting, sliding, and synthesizing, they are always in flux, prone to revisions and mutations, fixed permanently only through the deliberate notations of art.

Every work of Gonzales then is a study in attentiveness. But while, say,  in a conventional painting where we just see one event depicted synchronously, meaning all at once, in the works of the artist, we are asked to peer through, to combine and recombine, to re-assess the resulting image. Chronology is the arrow that flies through these works. When we look at them, we see the works unfold through time and in time, perceiving a tentative narrative in one occasion, which may vary the next time we look.

The title of the exhibition, Circa, is an apt word to describe this quality of tentativeness present in her works. It emphasizes that what we see in front of us is not a faithful recording of a scenario at a given moment, but a tender approximation, an accumulation, an aspiration to achieve the composite. The people (and, in one work, a self-portrait) Gonzales has devotedly drawn reveal their multiple selves, their change of moods and temperaments. A recollection of a gallery opening may bleed into the intoxicant atmosphere of a bar. The crowd becomes a collective.

Her life as a musician and as an artist is what binds these works together, particularly marked by the faces that regularly circulate in the spaces that Gonzales frequents. As she observes and examines them, they become “a way of finding out where I am at this certain point in time.” Her act of drawing them becomes the extension of how a certain memory would be rendered, transformed into art. They are the works’ center of gravity.

But Gonzales is cognizant about the possibility of forgetting. “I do not wish to forget even the smallest moments that I like, but it is out of my control,” she says. “I can only control the things I can create. I’ve decided to create more and more, in an attempt to depict everything and everyone that I encounter: to try to see them all at once.”

The vestiges torn from the paper symbolically represent the details that have been forgotten, kept in bottles to honor what has been lost. They accumulate with neither hierarchy nor plot nor any organizing principle. But when you hold a bottle and turn it in the light, the images glimmer like “colorless confetti,” which was the title of Gonzales’ first solo show.

Circa,” as a show, is an antidote to amnesia, as it fearlessly confronts how memory is prone to degradation, disappearance. It’s a soothing notion that art can arrest transience. And in the deft construction and deconstruction of Gonzales’ visual notations, something gets recalled again and again: a friendly face, a well-meaning word, the brush of warm skin against yours which is its own proof of life.

Words by Carlomar Arcangel Daoana

INERT LYRICAL ORIGIN

March 24, 2019 | Archives | No Comments

A solo exhibition by Marlon Magbanua

Music and Movement on Canvas

In Marlon Magbanua’s “Inert Lyrical Origin,” the artist delves into introspection in creating his artworks. Moving on from his synesthetic explorations, the artist now presents works that still retain a deep connection with musicality and harmony. He uses the groundwork of his past exhibitions and his stock references as musician and performance artist to create several pieces that show varying interpretations of his sources of inspiration, exploring various degrees of a starting point.

In The Womb, gold swathes of paint outline a spherical void where daubs of white and black are, along with a strong stroke of red. There are lines and shades of gray forming stone-like features and faint, semi-transparent lines. For his Origin series, he fixates on a neon pink shade that features prominently among the four pieces, along with drops and splashes scattered on fields of gray, white and black. Magbanua’s works then go straight to the firmaments in Limbo and Seventh Heaven, deftly expressing what might be a world in-between, with the aforementioned grays transformed into clouds now interspersed with blues and greens. Going further into far-reaching galaxies are his Nebula series on dark blue ground, fathomless and mysterious with a smattering of interstellar dust. He then rounds off his oeuvres with The Black Matter, juxtaposing primary colors on several diaphanous layers of white and gray, a floating distinctly against darkness.

By visually expounding on the concept of a constant and unmoving origin with his paintings, Magbanua has created works that demonstrate the breadth and depth of space, letting his audiences’ view expand towards unexplored galaxies beyond the gallery walls. Showing his art as not only melodic but ever-shifting, the artist shows greater control and intention in refining his craft, manifesting in his treatment of material, his cultivation of new techniques. Needless to say, it seems the artist is going towards broader, more promising directions. After all, his works might just be what sound looks like from outside the atmosphere.

Words by Kaye O’Yek

MAGIC FOREST

March 24, 2019 | Archives | No Comments

A solo exhibition by Raphael David

The magical event when fantasy and realism coincide becomes the primary concept of Raphael David’s first solo show Magic Forest. David explores the interconnectedness of nature and all other living beings by examining man’s propensity for natural symbiosis.

David presents a choice selection of works which visually play with a variety of life forms. Plants, animals, and humans morph into singular creatures, depicting a rather profound understanding of the connection between man and nature.

Harnessing the ground’s resources, David chooses metal and wood as his mediums to create. Malleable enough to imitate familiar life forms, both materials’ intrinsic resilience and sturdy properties make for a visually stimulating depiction of the coexistence and interdependence of all living beings. David’s venture into the surreal recreates the fantastic and mystical without losing its touch on its immediate reality.

Raphael David (b. 1989) is a visual artist, designer, sculptor whose artistry shows wide range of different elements – from hyper-realistic human figures to surreal sculptural pieces.

He studied Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. In 2009, he won the 42nd Shell National Student Art Competition with his piece titled, Alagad ng Baboy. He was also a finalist at the 2017 GSIS sculpture category for his piece Accept and Regrow.

HERE’S A LUCKY PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS

March 3, 2019 | Archives | No Comments

A solo exhibition by Paola Germar

Only the past and the present are known. The future is an untouchable unknown that you will never reach until it has become the present, and, after, the past. All your movements are calculated to steer ourselves towards your wanted future. But there isn’t any way of ensuring your future. You hold on to all chances we get.

Any promise of good fortune is attractive. It’s attractive enough for you to attempt whatever it is even if you do not fully believe in it. This promise of good fortune, call it ‘luck’, makes up an increased possibility. Possibility does not mean reality but it’s better than no chance at all.

You go about our daily routine leaving everything outside of it to luck and chance that maybe something else will happen. You hold onto lucky charms and participate in beliefs without dwelling on them too much. You accumulate them in small quantities but never in bulk because they’re just second thoughts to you. Nothing special, nothing real. But, when things do go your way, it makes you wonder if it’s just a coincidence that you found a penny on the ground that day or did luck’s promise of possibility actually work? There isn’t any certainty in luck but you’re never certain of anything in the first place so, why not invest in a promise of possibility? It wouldn’t hurt to try your luck again a little bit more, right?

Words by Bianca Germar

WOMBVOX

March 3, 2019 | Archives | No Comments

A group exhibition featuring the works of selected artists

In an intersection, somewhere in this adrenalin-pumped but altogether almost sincere world, a lady is standing under a traffic light waiting for the pedestrian light to turn green. Her face absent of makeup is painted with all signs of weariness and yet her eyes still has some unconsumed fire in it, raging and restless. During that endurable pause her mind would meander in an animated fashion towards one thing to another that more or less occupied her day. From the inevitable banal choices she has to make at morn, to the bad analogies that crosses her mind during moments of inattentiveness (a short but welcomed distraction from the rhythmic hum), to the elaborate plot in making a detour just to avoid the constraints and brutality of human traffic, to the point of enduring each whip blown by the winds of boredom, to the poor life decisions she made 10 years ago, these unremarkable things and more occur in her mind as the red countdown ticked to zero.

Then, just as unpredictable as the weather, a different thought blossomed in her mind. It was not small, that she was sure of. It was big, almost towering, but lurking in the shadows, waiting to be acknowledged. Her subconscious invitation for it to step into the light was subtle but it didn’t hesitate, and came in like a wave of overwhelming emotions that is dangerous when misinterpreted. Suddenly, all her indecisiveness, regret, and curbed desires slipped away and all that was left is the burning feeling of living, the desire to destroy all inhibitions, and the feeling of fearlessness to go beyond herself. The strong and aggressive ideas swimming in her head presented itself bare-naked and it took her breath away but it was something she couldn’t handle.

A few seconds before the halt sign came to an end, she closed her eyes and took a long and deep breath. The meaning and meaninglessness of existence bites everyone and some people are caught off guard. But not her. Not ever. When she opened her eyes the visual representation of a human being blinked green. One last breath. She took a step and crossed the road.

Words by Shalimar Gonzaga

MEETING PEOPLE AT SUBCONSCIOUS PARTIES

February 3, 2019 | Archives | 1 Comment

A solo exhibition by Ikea Rizalon

Threading Big Thoughts and Small Talk

From painting to embroidery on x-ray film, Ikea Rizalon has expanded creative expression with embroidery on canvas pieces in “Meeting People At Subconscious Parties,” using vintage photos and images to serve as ground as she manipulates flat space with thread, adding different dimensions and texture. As a child unknowingly introduced to the soft arts, she witnessed her grandmother and other female relatives sewing, and she herself started putting needle and thread into leaves with a sense of play at a young age. While she set out to go into medical school, growing up has led to her taking an artist’s path, apprenticing for some of the most prolific names of her generation and participating in notable group exhibitions in local galleries.

Rizalon never forgot her childhood dream of being a surgical doctor, but she has discovered equal happiness in stitching up x-ray films instead of patients’ skin. Now, as she transfers this passion into canvas, she materializes visions from her imagination with her handling of the nostalgic images she gathers, blurring the lines between art and memory. Traditional illustrations are intervened into by her hand stitches, which in turn reinvent the pieces to show new concepts in unexpected ways. Fascinated by old photographs and magazine illustrations scoured from thrift shops or collections from acquaintances, Rizalon repeats imageries by putting brush on canvas while rendering them with her personal touch and additional layers. She uses thread as she does paint, going through a more painstaking process as she pokes premeditated holes on canvas, making it hard for her to backtrack in case of any mistake. With her threadwork as part of her artistic practice, she looks forward to how members of her audience interact with each piece, perhaps leading to wonder how the message transforms according to what is covered and exposed. She hasn’t met any of the muses, mostly women subjects, illustrated in her works, so she stages subconscious parties in her head, drawing on each encounter as inspiration to what her threadwork will lead into.

I’ve Seen This Before is a woman in period costume posing for a portrait, with Rizalon’s threadwork creating a net poised to capture her. The woman sports a nonchalant stare, unknowing of the danger aimed at her direction. Unpleasant Roots dwell on plant life, the thread serving as additional organic forms that contain, and at the same time, contribute to their texture. Hiding Place looks like a traditional home, but with the introduction of Rizalon’s embroidery, it seems to be slowly being engulfed in a flexible force field preparing to confine all its secrets. Posed women gather around a sofa as they are photographed in a party, with dated dress cuts and hairstyles in the artist’s favorite piece. They now find themselves under the scrutiny of different parties who cannot seem to decipher whether they are in a celebration or in a glum occasion due to the lack of facial features and the emotions they can convey. The work is diverse as each individual subject may be characterized differently through their pose and outfit, their demeanor devoid of any sentiment as the artist covers them up, resulting in the work expressing something that isn’t actually there.

For Rizalon, history perpetually repeats itself, but an artist can always utilize her power to intervene. As the artist explores the creation of stitched stories, manipulating canvas with acrylic paint, oil paint and thread, she adds not only visible lines but three-dimensional texture to each individuated piece. She casts organically shaped nets with her well-meditated piercings, choosing to hide some details while emphasizing others. In doing so, she lends a personal touch to her works by using thread much like she uses paint, adding form, color, and meaning, and creating variations on a theme – her threadwork creates nets that cover, shields that erase, cushy forms that cocoon, or safety fields that protect. Each encounter with Rizalon’s work may be considered small talk as it sparks conversation and discourse, each piece contributing its own story as it plays on perception and preconceived notions.

Words by Kaye O’Yek

#synKronize

February 3, 2019 | Archives | No Comments

A group exhibition featuring the works of selected artists

Of Casualty and Coincidence

#synKronize” features recent works from Ejem Alarcon, Jhun Alianza, Thirdy Bustamante, Demosthenes Campos, Kiko Capile, Jay Condeno, Rene Cuvos, Demet Dela Cruz, Regie Dela Torre, Nelson Ricahuerta, RV Rivera, Roel Salvatierra, Migi Sebastian, Mike Seiling, Salvador Sierra, Jocel Tabudlo, Nissa Tayle, and Pablo Zingapan. Fresh from the successes of the past year’s exhibitions, these selected artists set their clocks anew as they embark on a new start. Elegant abstract works, realistic figurations, fantastic characters and systematic minimalisms all have their place in this timely exhibition.

With individual approaches to what is contemporary and what it means to them, the artists in “#synKronize” used their unique techniques in art making to produce works that speak to them and of them at this particular period. As they tackle personal paths in their art practice, each is tasked to delineate their responses to the most timeless of questions, that of how an artist makes art, and how that piece of art is made different through each perspective. Paintings and mixed media works range from Demetrio dela Cruz’ trompe l’oeil creations that tempt the viewer’s touch, simply to determine the materiality of three dimensional views, Salvador Sierra’s realistic rendition of a girl viewed through a bubble, Pablo Zingapan’s depiction of posed bombshells relegated to their bare bones, Rene Cuvos’ menagerie of hybrid characters boasting of their existence both in the animal and fantasy worlds, and Demosthenes Campos’ exploration of found objects and textured fragments and their ability to create different depictions of the physical in his pieces, among others.

In the search for creative impulses that lead to fulfillment on canvas or otherwise, perhaps the key is simply to give in to making, as production has no space for analysis paralysis and waiting in vain for the arrival of that ever-elusive spark of inspiration as each stroke of paint on canvas causes its own corresponding effect. Everything seems to be in its own perfect place and time, with events holding meaningful coincidences to everyone.

Words by Kaye O’Yek

UNDER THE BROAD UMBRELLA 2018

November 18, 2018 | Archives | No Comments

A group exhibition featuring the works of selected artists

Weathering Storms, Shade and Tea

Under the Broad Umbrella” at Kaida Contemporary has become a much-awaited yearly gathering of artists and their recent works. More than a hundred artworks fill the gallery, showcasing each artist’s take on today’s milieu. No themes are set, ideas are unbound. Folded paper patterns, merry mixes of found objects, street scenes, glorious gardens and fantastic creatures, quiet glimpses of solitude, pensive dreamscapes, nostalgic tableaus and even brooding images of impending explosion encompass the walls. It is an enticing gift for the gallery’s audiences, all wrapped up in the unlimited color palette of each individual participant’s creation. Each artist has something to say, in the best way one knows how.

As a person walks under the heat and rain, an umbrella becomes a valued contraption to have in one’s hand, providing shelter and protection against the harshness of elements. In the art scene, artists have to safeguard themselves from a barrage of disparate factors that hinder, repress and paralyze production. The gallery serves as haven for contemporary articulation without prejudice, allowing artists the freedom to shape their concepts into tangible objects. This broad umbrella of acceptance straddling artists’ diverse modes of expression serves this growing community of talents and supporters alike, rain or shine.

Words by Kaye O’Yek

AMONG MEN

October 21, 2018 | Archives | 1 Comment

A two-person exhibition by Leny Leonor and Aids Mariñas

They are among us

Among Men” showcases recent works by Leny Leonor and Aids Mariñas as they confront the concept of Philippine mythological creatures and folklore in the present day. Unlike the globally popular and highly-documented Egyptian, Norse or Greek mythologies, with dedicated scholars formally organizing their origins and structure, Philippine folklore and mythology seem to have been, predictably, heavily altered and improperly documented since colonial times. Though they still have a place in Filipino culture – especially in rural areas, where superstition and tradition still permeate societal norms, the orality, ethic-inclusiveness and lack of reliable written material regarding Filipino mythical creatures may have contributed to the diversity of the cast of characters, and the limitless variations in the telling of their stories. 

For their part, Leonor and Mariñas, noticing a gap in how Filipino folklore has been portrayed contemporarily, present paintings and pieces of sculpture that are re-imaginings of different kinds of the more well-known creatures in the hopes of re-introducing them and reviving the interest of a generation of millennials seemingly more caught up in gnomes rather than duendes, Dobby rather than tiyanaks, and Minotaurs rather than kapres.

Leny Leonor paints mundane scenes populated by these creatures, such as in Morning Commute, where the overall image is the interior of a UV Express van with only the central figure remaining a normal human while her co-commuters take on mythological personas. Leonor also interprets a tikbalang as a fast food service crew member, as she plays on the belief that if a normal person acquires strands of a tikbalang’s hair, the creature would be bound in servitude and follow that person until the end of time. As these creatures are portrayed as characters you may find in your favorite fast food store or interact with on a daily basis, they shed their mythic qualities and function in society as normal human beings, promoting their own demystification. 

Aids Mariñas uses resin, fabric and embellishments identified with santos to create characters that are not only inspired by folklore, but also draw on his fascination with 70s Japanese animated characters. His Sto. Niño is an interpretation of a restless spirit taking on the form of the child saint, going from house to house and knocking on doors. A Wakwak is a flying aswang that uses its red wings to cut its victims, not needing to leave its lower half behind. He also creates a Syokoy or merman, its upper half fish and lower half human. Lamanlupa like duendes and nuno sa punso who live underground or in anthills are also given equal importance, so is the Santelmo, a yellow ball of light said to come from a vengeful spirit. He also creates his own Kapre with a dark face, to honor ancient sources that say that the creature is a pugot, or a dishonored headless warrior.

As the artists integrate their interpretations of mythological creatures into their audiences’ sights, they become producers of new beings themselves. However, the mystery of folklore is that nobody really knows – they might already be among us right now, disguised as regular people in different incarnations, serving fried chicken or, maybe, even grilled isaw and clotted blood.

Words by Kaye O’Yek

PASTURES

October 21, 2018 | Archives | 1 Comment

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