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July 28, 2019 | Archives | No Comments

A solo exhibition by Eric Guazon

Weapons of Repression, Technologies of Violence

In “A Distant Cloud of Smoke” by Eric Guazon, his eleventh solo exhibition, the artist uses his paintings to remind viewers to always be mindful if they are being led astray. The bright colors in his pieces serve as both warning and beacon shedding light to the cognizance of what is actually going on, instead of our sights being misled by illusions perpetrated by those in power.

The paintings in the exhibition serve as platforms for his razor-sharp commentary as the artist utilizes his toy soldiers motif to site the present administration’s “War on Drugs” into context despite its current popularity and wildly proclaimed approval ratings, which is only part of a bigger agenda: acceptance and normalization of the government’s deal with China, the occupation of the West Philippine Sea.

Guazon’s Occupied Territory tackles this issue, as we hear the President himself announcing at his recent State of the Nation Address that guided missiles currently exist in the Chinese-occupied islands in contention, that “can reach Manila in seven minutes”, calls the sinking of a Philippine vessel with 22 endangered Filipino fishermen a “marine incident”, and admits that though the West Philippine Sea is ours, it is not under our control. The artist depicts Chinese-built structures on this piece as seen from above. As he inserts a mirror imprinted with the image of a starving child flanked by a red launch button and compasses, he seemingly asks where we as Filipinos go from here. The viewer sees himself reflected in the mirror, confronted by undeniable truths as he is surrounded by toy soldiers, other structural installations with X marking the spot, fish and faces in relief, as well as a small Philippine flag raised on the West Philippine Sea that may appear too small to be significant to the powers that be.

X-Site, Tandem and Boy-Toy locate the artist’s molded toy soldiers into different settings, each bearing a different significance — that of pawns to a markedly bigger war on lives misled by propaganda in an effort to lessen resistance to issues of sovereignty, a horrified glance and cry for survival with the word HWAG in the last moments before a riding-in-tandem ambush (now averaging four killings a day, according to PNP statistics), and the involvement of children as they bear witness, and fall as victims themselves, to the scourge of unlawful attacks brought upon by the incitement of killings of small fry suspected of involvement in drugs.

It is in Smoke Screen, however, a four-by-six-foot diptych, where the artist strikes back. In the midst of mundane advertisements for plumbers and termite control seen everyday on street posts, Guazon inserts defiant messages that belie the death count, state administration directives and its victims, and assert the true signs of the times from the perspective of artists. In this piece, he uses cardboard, commonly used as temporary cover for felled bodies, thoughtfully placed handle with care warnings and images of faces that may be substituted with the viewers’ visages if only they let their imaginations go there. 

At this age where the words of those in power are weapons used to repress, and even violently wound with hate comments and false claims, where foreign power-wielding and technology far more advanced than ours cowers national leaders into submission, Eric Guazon’s “A Distant Cloud of Smoke” is a foreboding and a fair warning that these brutal exercises in ruthlessness should be viewed as engravings on a passenger side mirror as we hurtle into an unknown future as a nation — they may be closer to us than they appear. With propaganda disseminating fear and confusion amidst the haze of incoherent, profanity-peppered proclamations, it is time to be wary of the ruse.

Words by Kaye O’Yek


July 7, 2019 | Archives | No Comments

A group exhibition featuring the works of selected abstract artists

Beyond shape and form

At its very core, abstract art encourages novel ways of perceiving reality. Subjects are reimagined within a limitless visual spectrum; forms are schematized and simplified, drawn with expressive inventiveness using a variety of techniques. The process of creation becomes the finished product itself, where every splash of colour and curve of a line becomes its own subject. Abstraction in art goes beyond simply rendering reality in simpler forms; it involves a return to the very aspects and qualities that constitute a work of art.

Historically, abstract art first emerged as a reaction to the more traditional forms of art-making. Where perspective, shading, and three-dimensionality were the basis of excellence, abstract art sought to place emphasis on the formal qualities of an artwork. The soft brushstroke that often disappeared within the shadow of a strange figure is now brought to the forefront, sometimes a vibrant dash against a clean canvas, at times locked in an elaborate dance with other colours.

MISC.” examines the various ways that abstraction manifests in art. An exhibition involving the works of over thirty different artists, we are presented with a stunning display of artworks that study how shape, colour, and form can evoke an emotional response without necessarily representing a true-to-life rendition of reality. Each piece becomes a personal experiment on style and technique, a document of the artists’ actions and process of creation; colours and shapes are arbitrary, always moving and shifting form. We are prompted to imagine and reimagine, as the resulting works glide between a visual reality that is both literal in its existence, and fluid in its perception.

Abstraction in art elicits a return to the visual, in its purest and truest form. In “MISC.,” the works possess an inherent expressiveness, one which shies away from the realistic impressions of the more established and widely-recognised classical art traditions. Rendered in a variety of arrangements, each piece provides a singular and unique peek into the artists’ minds, where reality is set in a constant process of revisualisation, and where the language of perception is as fluid as the colours on a plain canvas, or the careful sweep of the artist’s hand.


June 16, 2019 | Archives | No Comments

A two-man exhibition featuring the works of Raymond Carlos and Jose Luis Singson

Deconstructing the planes of human consciousness

In “Planescapes,” Raymond Carlos and Jose Luis Singson imagine consciousness as comprising multiple parallel planes that ceaselessly overlap and intersect, crossing each other at points that ultimately influence the overall perception of one’s current reality. Each plane is allowed its own distinct character, bringing to life elements that are both familiar and easily identifiable, thus allowing the viewer to move through the layers, one by one, in a process that indefatigably defines and redefines the complexity of the human experience.

Carlos delves into the plane of imagination, where the absurd take form. Figures are scaled down to impossible sizes. A camel is nearly as small as a cigarette lighter, its disproportionate representation mimicking a rather dream-like state. Likewise, it could be the opposite – the cigarette lighter has overwhelmingly increased in size, as have the other objects. This world they exist in – one of subdued tones and a warm, illusory ambience – allows these slight absurdities to thrive.

Singson completes the picture by exploring the plane of memory and its relation to what we perceive as a physical reality. His works are draped in soft shades of black and grey, evoking a keen sense of nostalgia and lost recollections. The façades of the old buildings are like an entryway into the peculiar world of memories, where the past (or at least, what we remember of it) determines how we interpret our physical reality, presented by the artist as an abstract collection of variable elements, virtually formless in architecture.

Planescapes” depicts these endless interplays between the planes of memory, imagination, and reality. The fleeting nature of human memory, and our inherent ability to fill in the missing gaps through our sense of imagination, create the truth and reality that the conscious mind inhabits. Our identity becomes the sum collection of these truths, whether imaginary or real, and the fleeting impressions we have of our physical realities. Ultimately, we find that human existence is the sum total of these encounters, an endless combination of different perceptions, recollections, impressions, and imaginations, all part of an intricate dance that eventually shapes the human consciousness.

Words by Elle Lucena


June 16, 2019 | Archives | No Comments

A solo exhibition by Taichi Kondo

TAICHI inherits the blood of two different countries, through his Japanese father and Filipino mother. Although he was born in Japan, and is currently based in Tokyo, he’s always chosen the Philippines to showcase his art. As such, he coined the word “JAPINOYSME,” inspired by the concept of Japonism, which likewise influenced the Impressionists of the 19th century. Japonism is a popular Ukiyo-e culture that has spread to the West, affecting many artists and the general public as well. While recognizing the differences that exist between Japan and the Philippines, TAICHI produces works that focus on the foundation underlying both cultures. This he named JAPINOYSME. Aware that a new culture is always created when two different cultures mix, TAICHI chooses to use a rooster motif to symbolize their common ground. In his mother’s hometown in Bacolod, Philippines, roosters blend in with the people’s daily lives, and also represent the liveliness of their everyday pastimes as seen particularly in cockfights. In Japan, on the other hand, they are domesticated like broilers and are seen only as food. The rooster highlights the similarities between Japan and the Philippines, and at the same time reflects the differences between the two countries. TAICHI creates his works by drawing strong lines, soft shapes, and vivid colors, which focus on the culture, social background, and history of the two countries. The purpose of this exhibition is for everyone to appreciate this.

Born in 1988
April 2016 – First solo exhibition at Finale Art File

Takuma Tanaka, Public collection: Ulster Museum, National Museum in Northern Ireland, and more. Auction: Bonhams in HK, and more.


May 26, 2019 | Archives | No Comments

A group exhibition featuring the works of Aldy Aguirre, Fran Alvarez, Mark Bardinas, Rolf Campos, Jobert Cruz, Yas Doctor, Jacob Lindo, and David Viray

Modes of interpretation

The influence of dualism in art is evident throughout history. Much of its origins can be attributed to persisting discourse in the fields of philosophy and religion, and the various attempts to explain and depict the oft-complex relationship between man and nature. Due to the tendency of historical art to portray symbolisms and metaphorical allegories as a means to expound on ideas that border the metaphysical, the principle of dualism has come to refer to many things – at times, two independent and indivisible concepts, at others the seamless synthesis of contrasting and largely opposing ideas.

Double Feature” examines this phenomenon. Artists Aldy Aguirre, Fran Alvarez, Mark Bardinas, Rolf Campos, Jobert Cruz, Yas Doctor, Jacob Lindo, and David Viray present an engaging collection of works that seek to study how the concept of dualism manifests both internally and externally. Employing the use of diptychs to visually engage the audience, various subjects are placed side-by-side to highlight how they contrast and complement one another.

At its core, the exhibit provokes reflection. Often set against a monochromatic background, the subjects seem to be suspended in mid-air. They reach out to the viewer, drawing them into the depths of their rich texture and details, while still allowing space for personal interpretations and experiences to seep through. As such, the exhibit could be perceived as a process in constant motion, where concepts, thoughts, and ideas are flexible, and prone to multiple interpretations.

Double Feature” urges us to perceive these interpretations as essential to understanding the world. By placing ourselves at the centre of this process, we become aware of how opposing and seemingly irreconcilable concepts overlap, and the ways in which they complement and reflect one another.

Words by Elle Lucena


May 26, 2019 | Archives | No Comments

A solo exhibition by Carlo Caloy Gernale

A zoetrope of a broken nation

Throughout history, diptychs have been used to convey the sense of continuity and connection, a concept Carlo Caloy Gernale touches on in his latest solo exhibition “Pares.” Rather than presenting a simple narrative, Gernale traces how individual images that carry their own weight and history may be juxtaposed against one another and ultimately contribute to the persisting discourse on current social issues.

Gernale employs the use of diptychs to further his point across, conceptualizing how pairs of vastly contrasting images may complement one another despite their purported differences in subject matter; as such, each panel in “Pares” may be perceived as a standalone work. However, Gernale adds another layer to this process of interpretation by systematically positioning the panels to form a more coherent and complete picture of Philippine society.

The collection of works in this exhibit is a study on current social issues and concerns, a topic Gernale continually draws inspiration from. Familiar scenes and images are illustrated in realistic detail against a backdrop of grim and gloomy colours, the greys of the figures rendering the subjects almost lifeless and cold, a rather straightforward statement on the complicated and at times cruel, socio-political landscape of today’s era. Gernale finds direct inspiration from mass media outlets such as television and social media, and even personal conversations with friends and acquaintances. The constant and unceasing interactions amongst people and their physical and social environment, as well as the ways in which these elements respond to one another, form the gist of Gernale’s body of work.

In “Pares,” the interconnectedness of the works augment the overarching narrative Gernale is seeking to tell. Like a zoetrope in motion, each piece complements the next, and the next, and the next, forming a dynamic interpretation of the ever-changing state of a healing nation.

Words by Elle Lucena


May 5, 2019 | Archives | No Comments

A solo exhibition by Jerson Samson

Fragments of Identity

The concept of the individual is heavily explored in Jerson Samson’s oeuvre. Whether the individual is perceived to be a unique and distinct being, or imagined as part of a large and formless entity, Samson employs the use of various media to draw attention to how multiple interpretations of the self could manifest in the physical form. Identity is transitory; people are seen as perpetually involved in the process of completion. The complexity of human emotion is given substance, and we are encouraged to repeatedly examine and reexamine ourselves within these visual parameters.

In “Tao,” Samson brings together an assemblage of sculptures and paintings that silently trace the process of introspection. Beginning with the self in relation to one’s environment, a trio of hand-moulded sculptures replicate the human form, its features slightly tinged with the mystical. The visage of an androgynous figure looks vaguely human, where pieces of its partially formed body protrude and split, creating the illusion of life and movement. Samson personifies the elusive wind, which we are able to imagine by isolating the empty, half-formed spaces that swathe and penetrate the three figures. The remaining fragments form the picture of ruins which, to Samson, become whole only within the subconscious mind.

The process of introspection further moves outward; from the self, it looks beyond. The individual is imagined as part of a homogeneous sea of people, each person visualised as a mere stroke of the brush. Indistinct and uniform, human emotions and experiences are collectively grouped into one coherent mass, where the notion of identity is processed as a whole. In contrast to the three sculptures, Samson seeks to establish the ability of a unified mass to influence perceptions of the self.

In “Tao,” the collective sum of an individual’s experiences and emotions ultimately form its identity which, by virtue of its mutable nature, renders the individual a work in progress, always headed towards subsequent completion. The exhibition records the changing notions of the self—both as a singular phenomenon and an amalgamation of events and conditions, allowing us to find ourselves amid the gentle curves and sharp corners of half-formed ruins, or amongst an endless sea of people, moving like minuscule dots on a surface that is perpetually changing.

Words by Elle Lucena


May 5, 2019 | Archives | No Comments

A two-woman show featuring the works of Nina Garibay and Naomi Mendoza

Drowning in Kitsch

In their book Kitsch! Cultural politics and taste, sociology professors Ruth Holliday and Tracey Potts claim that kitsch has very much integrated itself into our everyday lives, to the point where, as per their words, “we are drowning in [it].” Kitsch refers to objects perceived to be lowbrow and tacky, often mimicking a preexisting style or aesthetic, and which employ the use of mass-produced designs and popular (pop) icons. In the last decades, there seems to have been a steady increase in the consumption and manufacture of such objects, to the point where it has come to influence the development of aesthetics and design in the contemporary era.

In “Sugar Pill,” Nina Garibay and Naomi Mendoza refer to the concept of kitsch with a strong sense of irony. They mimic the atmosphere of a kitschy café, surrounding the viewer with an eye-catching collection of images and objects that serve to be a visual temptation. While kitsch is often used in a pejorative manner, Garibay and Mendoza dress the concept in sweet colours, transforming it into an almost overwhelming wonderland of food and popular references. Even the disinterested spectator finds something to immerse themselves in.

For Garibay, the consumption of images goes beyond the surface. She explores how the process of tearing ready-made magazine pages and isolating selected parts can infer new meaning to the work. Oil paint is integrated into a collection of collages, allowing the viewer to observe how the act of painting is more than a simple visual replication. Every approach is emotionally-charged. Images originally created for the purpose of mass consumption are transformed into an eclectic montage of visual references, familiar to a wide range of audience, but subjective in its conception.

Mendoza takes a more literal approach to the concept of kitsch. Employing taste as her primary inspiration, the artist recreates a sumptuous collection of gustatory delights. Desserts and delicacies are presented for the viewer to consume, drawing attention to how they overwhelm the senses and in effect, consume us in return. Cupcakes, milkshakes, and ice cream popsicles are adorned in bright and playful colours, arranged temptingly on serving trays. We are invited to reach out and take a bite. The sensual pleasure of swimming in a sea of pretty pinks and blues is enough to sate our hunger.

Sugar Pill” seeks not to provoke sympathy, but to highlight how consumable products and services momentarily distract us from our actual conditions. Garibay and Mendoza encourage us to identify ourselves as consumers, always in the process of mindlessly devouring anything that attracts our attention. The exhibit immerses us in a world devoid of nutritional value, where appearances take primary importance. As the audience, we begin to realise that we are slowly drowning in a sea of saccharine pleasures, sinking deeper and deeper to the point of no return.

Words by Elle Lucena


April 14, 2019 | Archives | No Comments

A solo exhibition by Bam Garibay


Mefenamic (acid) is a drug used to treat mild to moderate pain. It is recommended to be taken with food. Known side effects include headaches, nervousness, and vomiting.

Bam Garibay entitled his first solo exhibit “Mefenamic,” the pain-reliever drug ubiquitous in Pinoy life (impishly referencing the drug war plaguing the country and the popular “Vitamin P series – the world’s hottest painters, selected by international experts” published by Phaidon). The drug stands for the ‘high’ one gets when having fun with friends; and also to the therapeutic practice of painting.

Acid also refers to the psychedelically saturated colors of his canvases and the jarring composition he uses in works like Sun, 18:08 and Sat, 08:38. Stark contrasts and exaggerated angles defined by raw strokes on works like Sat, 21:01 and Fri, 19:31 influenced by Max Beckmann and Neo Rauch, create visually heightened renditions of snapshots from mundane life taken through his smartphone. He blows these photos up on large canvases to make them momentous. He derives the titles from the time stamps of the photos, explaining, “What is important is the moment, not the person. Because people change, but the moment shared will not.”

“The studio is a solitary place where I focus on the serious business of painting even though the subjects I paint are vulnerably personal to me. In this way the process is cathartic but at the same time requires disciplined detachment. Gratitude is always there though, definitely.” This inner sanctuary is seen in works like Sat, 20:35 where a Caucasian boy sleeps on a bed of flowers as his blue dog watches. The color blue pervades his paintings – on the faces of his sitters, the walls and floors of the rooms, and the highlights on the furniture- giving a cool and distant feeling of melancholy.

Garibay cycles between the constant need for both interaction and self-reflection through painting. Here the right dosage and regularity of intake is crucial for effective ‘pain relief’ and to prevent side effects – too much socialization may lead to manic dependence on other people or substances, while too much isolation may lead to boredom, as expressed in the eyes of the girl in Wed, 16:54 or even depression in the resigned look of the boy in Mon, 14:48.

In the end, it is not the effect of Mefenamic (getting well) that is important, nor the subject of the portraits, but the realization that you go through a lot of mild and moderate pains in life and you just have to find something to get you by (painting). Painting captures the temporality of
life, and more importantly, its magic. The largest piece, Fri, 11:13 embodies this constant moving on – a girl, in mid-stride with body pointing forward, looks directly at the viewer with a tired but defiant smile. After all, Mefenamic is just a temporary cure, giving a moment of relief. It doesn’t treat the cause of the pain, but it gets you through it.



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