First there is uncomfortable, disquieted resignation, coupled with an astonished acceptance that “this is it.” Awakening each morning to eat, bathe, work, eat again, work some more, go home, rest, eat yet again, and fall into some nocturnal oblivion before waking up the next morning and doing it all again with little or no variation. Is there more, we ask as dissatisfaction sweeps in with recognition, is there meaning, is there purpose? We wonder where the color has gone, and why there is muteness where once there was sound. It would be easier to die than to live in such a vacuum, but continuation is a commitment, a celebration of the mundane. Morning after morning after morning–each day dawns and we are still breathing, we are still here, still roused from bed by a need to be present, by a desire to act, even if the script has become wearisome beyond all belief. Because we remember that we have choices, we remember each day, each morning is a choice, and we choose to exist. Good morning, we know not what lies ahead.
In “Good Morning,” Shalimar Gonzaga’s sublime vision of everyday routine speaks to us through a series of paintings that gently pull habituation out of its obscurity of obsolescence to place it in the forefront of consciousness. What does it mean to repeat? Is hope only to be found in life’s grand moments or does it also course through the veins of the mundane? And, most importantly, what gives us the strength to go on, to get out of bed and boldly (or timidly) start a day that we know will build itself up around a nearly-guaranteed scaffolding of sameness? Art has answers, and, in the tradition of Stephen Taylor and Claude Monet, Gonzaga’s paintings invite us to embrace the mundane–the pile of rumpled pillows, the downturned and disheveled sheets, the chore undone–and to find not only ourselves in it, but also a certain purposeful transcendence, an elevation of self that is nevertheless firmly–perhaps even essentially–grounded in the sometimes-maddening, quotidian repetitions that form the bulk of our lives. Through, with, because of, and despite our daily tasks and habits, we dream, wonder, and live. And, as Gonzaga shows us, we create again and again and again.
A group exhibition featuring the works of Mikko Baladjay, Jobert Cruz, Vladimir Bulalacao Grutas, Ikea Rizalon, Geremy Samala, and Elijah Santiago
1. As a result or consequence of this; therefore.
2. In the manner now being indicated or exemplified; in this way.
3. To this point; so.
Every action has a reason, and whether that action is logical or not depends entirely on the person responsible for those actions which always have a result. Whatever piques our interests and we start acting on it comes with an outcome. But not all outcome ends abruptly. Sometimes it continues and branch out to another set of options with varying results.
As humans, we have the capacity and the free will to choose for ourselves, good or bad, or, doing bad for the greater good or not doing good because of particular circumstances, remaining neutral, doing things for life and death situations, or, simply just because. In “Thus (The Untitled Show),” the artists present a narration of their own “thus”; scenarios each disparate from one to another. In grammar, “thus” is used to link reasons with results. It is used to introduce conclusions inferred from evidence, to present a general summary of information listed in earlier sentences, and to express the means for accomplishing an action . By adopting an open-ended concept based on this idea, the artists were allowed the freedom to demonstrate situations which are, in all likelihood, personal or speculated, thus creating diversity in the exhibition’s story telling.
The exhibited works interact visually making the audience a part of the exhibition. The works presented by the artists pose scenarios and continues in the viewers’ mental process making a conclusion of their own that could resemble or be contrary to the artist’s intention. This interplay between the viewers and the artworks is the “thus” of the exhibition, a changeable interpretation depending on the audience’s own “thus”.
Comprised of new paintings and an assortment of found objects, “Allegories of Nation-Building” touches on the violence behind visual acts of representing the Philippines as both nation and territorial state.
Cian Dayrit essays interrelated roles of artist, curator, collector and critic in this exhibit. Making and gathering archipelagic motifs, he intentionally clusters images and things them in a manner reminiscent of souvenirs or foodstuffs peddled to tourists or everyday things displayed as exotic curiosa and folk psychedelia. Heavily sensate and symbolic, these stories points to how a larger ideological and structural project is at work behind the novel tropicality of it all. Dayrit’s works source their visual cues from symbols and scenes, continuously deployed across the archipelago, to reinforce the notion of nationhood: an imagined community, to appropriate Benedict Anderson’s usage of the term, that has historically shifted from colony to neoliberal enclave.
The exhibition resulting from this exercise is a satirical accumulation of statist, unstable and mixed up symbols. Each is seen and referenced so often that their character as unnatural representations are taken for granted: embedded in educational materials; enacted through officially-deployed objects such as seals, flags and monuments; and experienced as emblems, crafts and strange artifacts. Through Dayrit’s visual interventions and juxtapositions, we are made to reckon anew with these different insignias of identity and power, visual markers and documents of mapping and planning, and auto-ethnographic artifacts. these are also assertions and articulations of ideology, manifest in the most common of things.
Such iconographic research and exploration yields difficult questions. What, for instance, is a nation, in the face of contemporary conditions of flux and precarity? Should the representation of nation be reduced to a singular (and, occcasionally, unsavory) figure or face, an unsuspecting animal, a solitary plant introduced from foreign lands? How does one capture the complexity of social struggle in seemingly defined and unified ways? What kind of memories do our monuments erect and enable? Can the vision of a collective (or conflicted) community really be captured in shiny blueprints and plans for the future, created by and for the benefit of a few entrenched entities?
The exhibit can also be apprehended as the artist’s own process of taking stock: accounting for questions, trails of thought, and wandering observations in order to develop an informed response to contradictions present across Philippine society and history. In gathering, appropriating, and accumulating icons of national import—whether from the lingering colonial past or looming neoliberal present—Dayrit’s iconographic explorations point to how everyday indoctrination into state ideology is writ large and in ways that touch us all.
With Mark Dawn Arcamo’s recent works in “Peripheral Distractions,” the artist explores the dynamics and interstices between reality and its fringes, composing his paintings and newly-introduced collage pieces on canvas rendered in varying colors. Motion, balance and depths of perception unify Arcamo’s pieces, with his play on spatial aspects and layering visual elements setting the framework of his new iterations and ventures into imagery, stretching the limitations of his chosen form.
The artist’s mastery in splicing the flat grounds of his acrylic on canvas works reinforce the vision of his previous exhibitions. In Asymmetric Relation, a woman’s face is partially exposed, juxtaposed with floral forms with limbs from a central figure and a man hidden in the background. Pyramids float in the sky as a mansion leads to a garden and a pool with its blues and greys. Motion Adaptation boasts of a masculine character dominating the space, yet anonymized by hidden facial features. Layered behind him are multiple imprints of women and what seems to be different flattened layers of canvas while the pyramids are joined by other more imperfect shapes that resemble irregular blocks of concrete. In Perceived Motion, however, Arcamo’s penchant for mysterious figures is infringed with a glimpse of a familiar Hollywood celebrity with flower petals signifying romance and drama, as well as an early version of a movie camera, perhaps as an ode to motion pictures and how its technology changed our sensitivities when it comes to action and the interpretation of manufactured narratives.
Included in the exhibition are Arcamo’s collages, which, though a bit smaller in size compared to his paintings, nevertheless show accomplished accounts all their own. Fragments of scanned and photocopied images from books and magazines infuse the materials with the artist’s experiences and experimentation with color and composition, creating pieces that are less formally designed and restricted, and more expressive. They do not create a disconnect, rather, they seamlessly relate to and inform the fully painted pieces in line with the artist’s objective with retaining his vision underscored in all artworks while undertaking an important transition in his practice.
The pieces are studies in awareness and distraction, serving as veritable investigations in optical illusion in testing which elements stand out and which ones are camouflaged in the midst of puzzle-like, yet intentionally composed fragments of objects and historical references associated with modernity. In Relative Contrasts, Arcamo coats his collage with layers of paint that serve to cloak details and emphasize the shadows that make up the depth of the varying grounds receding from one’s view. Again, bodies have obscured faces, with no identifiers except for the somberness of their clothing. Mental Imagery posits pieces of machinery and cutouts from commerce, transport and technology surrounding a white-profiled central figure while a bullet whizzes overhead. Aftereffect 1 and 2 seem like acid trips in pale yellows and celadon showing figures with torn-out faces and scenes of destruction seemingly brought on by biological warfare. Visual Perception 1-5 seem to be multilayered landscapes that border on dream stages set up with images of industrialization, factory fragments and large work spaces; a splintered and layered view of a train’s cross section and stations lorded over by a man in white pants; building features spliced on top of each other; and groups of men conversing amongst themselves, seemingly plotting the next business enterprise, or perhaps, even the launch of a nefarious scheme to take over the world.
As Arcamo plots the foundation for his future works, he also teases his audience’s acuity for details that they might just miss. By stressing the importance of the periphery, the artist seems to direct viewers’ perceptions to what are, as yet, unseen, perhaps as portents for what is yet to come.
Unlike most artists who prefer utmost solitude when painting, Melvin Culaba wants to be in tune with the teleradyo while mixing three coats of paint on his canvases. With an immediate distance from the urban thoroughfares of the hustle and bustle of Baclaran, he is in sync with the goings-on around him from sunup to sundown. From his second floor vantage point, he could witness vendors being rounded up by the police or be enthralled by the glittering neon lights of City of Dreams, Hyatt and Nobu Hotels. That is how close he is to his subjects, and in all his past exhibitions, his third for Kaida Contemporary, “Re-Current Themes” is his most personal and political show to date.
Culaba is fuming, as noticed in the bolder and harsher strokes, each one with emotional intent and moral undertones. As an artist, this is the only way he knows how to respond to these strange and interesting times. He also deeply reminisces into the milestones of his existence, causing him to pause and reflect while holding his brushes and palette knives in his makeshift studio.
Interiority Complex (Ang Konsencia sa Pagpipinta) is the centerpiece in triptych. Ang Konsencia ng Pintor is his first attempt at portraying himself while thinking long and hard in documenting both what occurred in his personal life, and the recent re-occurrences in his sad republic. For a realist painter like Culaba, nothing delineates the personal from the social. He only paints the way he knows how. Elements of the painting evoke memories of his grandparents, with the haunting presence of a black butterfly on his palette marking their guidance.
Culaba waxes poetic with Bansang-Moro Buchikiik, ik ik ik wherein an abandoned motorcycle refers to recent killings by riding-in-tandem duos. The title is also a take on recent housing projects from armed conflict or calamity-ridden areas built with substandard materials. The artist immortalizes characters he meets and events he experiences as well, the tone of the piece bereft with joy as he includes a stuffed dog with a Thanos tumbler.
Sa Kaharian ng Im-PERYA-l Fukada…Go Bananas is a reference to his sister in an 80s photo with other Filipina entertainers. With the setting cloaked in the familiar violet curtains of a recently-launched Japanese establishment for high rollers, Culaba decries the presence of posh resort hotels which cater to gambling by the presence of dice. Meanwhile, a similar palace acts as background with a crocodile as official symbol of corruption marked by gargoyle-like bulldogs acting as pimps for every kind of patronage. Imperya not only is a play of words for imperial but also for perya or small circus during a town fiesta, complete with roving roulette one aims at the fruits on each head as target which could be in the form of aspirations, dreams, or want for material possessions.
The demonstration of Pandango sa Ilaw pertains to those who apply for cultural dancers abroad. Meanwhile the presence of chicks on top of a coffin call for justice. Additional space fillers are garlic issued by the DFA secretary; microphone in a karaoke set reflecting our penchant for drunken entertainment on the streets; french fries as an ongoing testament to colonial mentality and false diets; the monkey stuffed toy equates the prevalent monkey business and the dinosaur reminds us how age-old and repetitive these concerns are.
The oval-shaped Ang Larawan, Kabayan is his ode to beauty, or the lack of it, that is often exploited. He hints at artists who for the sake of commerce simply repeat what sells. It also takes a pun at the art scene which falsely depicts beauty as a myth, as if we were stuck in the bygone 50s. Culaba also deals with the 3,000 OFWs that migrate everyday hoping for a better future abroad. He paints an airplane sculpture found in his studio which is a token gift from a fellow artist as an emblem for departure and new beginnings.
In Sa Letrang BBB at DDD (Dig Dig Dig) he uses dogs that search for the truth by digging it out. Set on top of a tractor’s tracks, dogs could also mean overworked and underpaid laborers. A kidney-shaped space is for desperate measures of selling body organs in times of dire need despite of health hazards. Speedy Bagal pertains to our chaotic road system—our concrete pavements being fixed and before you know it being torn down again when the rainy days come. A snail is his postmarked for delayed service.
If one seems disillusioned to what is transpiring around us, one finds comfort in the past and prefers to overload in nostalgia. Tipanan ni Undo at Inday sa Luneta….sa Panahong wala pa si Puto-Bomber at si Puta-Shop offers that needed whiff of fresh air when the genteel life was simpler and more basic. Back in the day when there were no malls, one could still take a stroll at Luneta and be photographed at the pristine Rizal statue without the photobomber of a condominium we have for the moment. One can enjoy being carefree and pure fun with the gang or a loved one. Culaba can also eschew romance and is capable of mushiness without the usual angst of an anarchist.
As seen in Culaba’s paintings in “Re-Current Themes,” we continue to confront the same ills and struggles of society spanning five presidential administrations. It seems our national issues just keep on coming back, remaining unresolved. Our problems are systematically bureaucratic, simply because it is the very system that we continue to question. Preferring to be subliminal in his take on the obvious, the artist’s culture-bound iconographies provide politically intense personifications and remind all of us of the quagmire we are stuck in, while still hoping on the power of human capital for redemption which may very well be brought upon by clenched fists.
Grace Corpuz in her first exhibition “Sa Panahong Walang Hinahon Ang Poon” creates mixed media pieces that serve as literal signs of the times. By utilizing found objects and applying text, she creates new dimensions to the works, tableaus seemingly culled from true to life news stories. Playing on reality with deification, idolatry and patronage, she uses galvanized iron sheets, a known material used by informal dwellers in creating improvised shanties, to shape figures set in the midst of conflict, displacement, hunger and injustice.
Her most commanding piece, Ang AniMahal na Poong Makapangyarihan sa Lahat, features an iconized symbol of power, with both sides commanded by his spirit animals, the dragon and the eagle, which others might say would be his real masters. Emblazoned on the piece is one of his most notable quotes, one that he uses specifically to lord over his dominion and administration.
Same spirit animals are also notable elements on aliPinas, with the map of the Philippines seemingly projected on a marketing poster putting up the whole country and its surrounding territorial waters for sale. Instead of employing the simplistic, touristy slogan It’s more fun in the Philippines, she reworks the word itself, Pilipinas, into something that, in the meantime, translates into something more ominous and may be a bit too realistic for our own comforts.
Corpuz also touches on other pressing issues pervading the national consciousness, with Bigas Hindi Bala portraying a starving family sharing a meal of cold lead bullets. For Oplan Tumba, an EJK victim is shown cordoned off by police lines, scene of the crime markers prevalent with a pair of slippers discarded in the midst of struggle of the life lost. Kalbaryo sa Istrukturang Dayo is a family displaced by conflict, the innocents suffering the burdens of decisions made by the all-powerful.
The artist also references undercurrents of agitation in Ang Mamuhay sa Rebolusyunaryong Kilusan, portraying bombs falling out of the sky as militarization increases death count in the masses in covert maneuvers beyond the reach of mass media’s exposition.
With Corpuz’ deviation from what is expected of her works, she remains faithful and consistent to her established concept and the themes of her flat, vector-bound paintings rife with symbolism and political significance. Her exploration of galvanized iron sheets in creating her pieces not only serve to challenge her own creative process, the material itself—used to construct light shanties congesting urban poor communities—becomes emblematic, as it degrades to rust when exposed to natural elements. In a way, it serves as demonstration of the current weaknesses of the administration, decay and destruction pervading society, the putrefaction of good sense, and a warning of worse things to come as the masses follow an Idol they project their most fearsome rationalizations to as they applaud each gaffe and justify every move. To them, he is a god who can do no wrong, and he lords above us all.
In “That Play House,” Ayka Go’s third solo exhibition, the artist harkens back to days of innocent fun and make believe as she revisits the written records of her earliest memories. With delicately rendered paintings and hand-wrought paper sculptures, she shares a diary that chronicled her formative years, re-reading, interpreting, reproducing and recreating actual pages reshaped as familiar objects, touching on memory, healing, escape and detachment while doing so.
Tents, forts, fields of fresh grass, paper flowers, dolls and boats serve as landmarks of an unblemished and happy childhood, setting a reference point to where the artist has been and the journey she’s travelled so far. Sepia tones contribute to the feeling of nostalgia, blurring the time line and giving a glimpse of an unsullied view into critical bits and pieces that serve as the foundation to a relatively young life. Shades of warm creams, beiges and browns not only provide notions of purity and safety; condensed-milk-tinged, sticky sweet remembrances invoke feelings of comfort that serve as refuge during trying times.
For Go, art has been a part of her life since she was very little. Through her diary entries and doodles, she gets to relive a phase of her life when everything seemed perfect and untainted by the stresses and psyche-damaging effects of external factors that muddle real life. A little girl’s whimsical imagination is brought back to life, where both the tangible and the dreamlike meld seamlessly, creating a universe of magical objects and fantastic creatures. In this pretend world, she is a princess who rules over everything, and all her wishes and desires come true by absolute decree.
A few pages from her actual diary are exhibited, along with several small pieces of paper sculpture that use scanned pages, so the diary itself is kept intact. The replication of memory, along with the simplicity of random objects reminiscent of play and home life becomes an instrument of intimate disclosure without being intrusive, as it is still the artist’s choice whether or not to share the contents that lie within. She folds some pages, fashions petals and paper walls, carefully deciding which details to conceal and show. It is still her world, after all, her sanctuary, and her very own Play House.
In his third solo exhibition, Jonathan Joven presents “Anggulo,” his new take on perspectives that plays on the direct Filipino translation to the words angle (anggulo) and turmoil (ang gulo). Known for his worm’s eye view paintings, Joven with his latest offering explores divergent perspectives while playing with mixed standpoints and altered proportions.
Arko ng Hangganan portrays a toddler as he escapes on his scooter to a cornfield. While household pets watch by, he slices through bumper-to-bumper traffic to create an arched portal to another world. Innocent, steadfast and focused, he breaks through obstacles as only a courageous child can. Papunta Ka Pa Lang, Pabalik Na Ako may be likened to an out of town trip, where traffic is made up of different modes of transportation on wheels. A child rides a bike with glee and a shark seemingly swims on thin air. The juxtaposition of elements and play of proportions explore scale and define the scene with a surrealist bent. In Sa Ugoy, a seated little girl swings happily with boats on the background, a carabao-driven caretela, an airplane lifting off from the runway, and your normal day-to-day EDSA heavy traffic. Child’s play and utter innocence are posited against land, air and sea travel, perhaps predicting all of the places she could possibly go. Tuwa is another play on positions and direction, as kids enjoying a laugh together seem to be set against a forest canopy and two pairs of adult feet. As the artist includes children, animals and modes of transportation in his works, he further reinforces a sense of play and randomness bordering on chaos. Whether in action or at rest, the artist’s figures on his slightly textured canvases add to a feeling of wonder and the exploration of further possibilities. Stuck in the everyday struggle of everyday traffic, somehow the artist’s subjects find ways to enjoy themselves, and, sometimes, even excitedly make their escape.
Joven also introduces several framed mixed media pieces utilizing tracing paper, layering architectural plans with figures and line drawings from Leon Battista Alberti’s perspective theories to challenge the viewer’s point of view while addressing issues about society and the environment. Tahanan portrays a beggar making the streets her work and rest place, as she has a sole puppy for company. Bangkito piles together different chairs, from a plain plywood bench and humble bangkito to standard-issue school desks and fully-upholstered seats of authority and luxury with their leather covers and embellished wood turnings. Bahay-bahay features a child rocking on a leather chair that resembles a tumba-tumba, while a mansion turns turtle and presents a poorly constructed shanty in its stead. Further expounding on housing issues, Joven also presents Two Stor(e)y, with two carts – one a horse-driven unit peddling and delivering native crafts, the other kariton serving as an improvised temporary shelter for its inhabitants, with protection from the elements provided by what appears to be reused pieces of election campaign tarpaulins.
As Anggulo’s varied directions and intentional disarray present Joven pushing against self-imposed limitations, he drives his and his audiences’ perspectives into more ways of seeing life. The artist’s message, for this show at least, may mean Yes, life can be a mess, but sometimes all it takes is a different standpoint to make sense out of the chaos.
In Arnold Bornios’ “Soul Portraits,” the artist presents intimate paintings of family and friends, some from snapshots, some actual sitters, and some composites from ideas or emotions that filled the artist and let themselves out through his works.
Up-close and personal, the faces distort identity, devoid of features
that betray gender, race or age, but uncannily reverberate emotion and
energy through the thick layers of impasto, collages and acrylics. Paint
is applied to a sumptuous layering of printed materials, some coming
from glossy magazines or comic books, others from flyers, brochures, bus
tickets and old receipts.
part of our lives, as they say, from cradle to grave, with our first
footprints imprinted on them in birth certificates and hospital records.
Paper money and cheques represent value, books, magazines, letters and
art store information. Diaries, note pads and stick-ons remind us of
everyday tasks and events for our personal use and for keeping track;
posters and flyers promote and market products, communicate campaigns
and entice us to try new products; paper bags and wrapping paper may
contain foodstuffs and surprises. With the diversity of its uses and
most of life’s milestones associated with paper, it is perhaps only
fitting for the artist to use this readily available medium to convey
been born in Honolulu to immigrant parents from Abra, Bornios admits
being Filipino in blood and American in mind. He credits growing up in
Hawaii’s melting pot culture with shaping not only his character, but
also for dealing with reconciling identity and spirit for most of his
life. He recently moved his artistic practice to the Philippines in
order to engage a new and transformative cultural experience rooted in
his ethnic Filipino identity. However, it is his constant
self-reflection that fuels him on as he creates his visually compelling
by Onib Olmedo’s expressionistic figurative paintings, Bornios’ Soul
Portraits define his sitters’ personalities by his robust paint strokes
while taking care to uncover subtle details that delineate character. In
his process of rediscovering one’s notion of self through perceptions
of immigration and displacement, he creates glimpses of the soul with
heavy collages and acrylics. In his portraits, presented in abstracted
monumental form, viewers are compelled to confront the paintings with
their own individual identities and experiences face to face as they
find themselves caught in the conversation between the artist and the
sitter. Bornios’ use of collage acts as a physical record of time and
space, a remnant of location, and a residue of an actual event, as he
employs materials from mainstream print media to challenge the notions
of a paperless age and cloud storage pervading the minds of the
technology-obsessed. With his creations, Bornios puts into the fore what
for him matters most – a lot of spirit, and a whole lot of soul.
Ma. Althea “Tekla” Tamoria’s “Baby Girl X” are finally ready to be shown outside the artist’s studio. From the long journey from her Studio Arts degree to several years in the advertising industry, then to her post-university Garments training, several group shows and her Colony being the recent Art in the Park’s must-see installation, the artist’s painstaking attention to detail, penchant for bright colors and incessant folding has finally reached fruition.
“Baby Girl X” presents the artist’s literal handiwork, with each crease on her pyramids, hexagons and triangles smoothed and flattened by her own fingers – while waiting for meetings, riding in jeeps, binge-watching TV shows and basically hanging out. Her hands are so used to the exercise, she often finds herself on autopilot. Folding paper has become second nature, meditative and soothing, a way to contain pent-up energy and evolving notions. By combining Tamoria’s multihued modular fragments, she creates floor-length dresses of spikes that defy paper’s characteristic stiffness. While respecting the inherent qualities of her material to hold its shape, she raises it towards extraordinary levels with her laborious effort, creating something not only wearable, but boasts of graceful drapes and sensual cutouts.
Meticulously engineered and put together, Tamoria’s “Baby Girl X” are worthy of representation in both art catalogues and fashion magazines. As such, photographs of the dresses are exhibited both as documentation and pages off a fashion portfolio. Her wall bound works, however, are pattern-filled rarities on their own, with interlocking pieces simulating puzzles. Rainbow colors are combined much like pixels in a photograph, Tamoria taking advantage of paper’s smooth and flat surface and transforming the material into three-dimensional hexagonal forms. The artist collects various types of paper and sorts them systematically, so she knows exactly what to set off against which. She also set aside something special, her favorite shade of red, for one of her favorite pieces.
The artist’s obsessiveness and pursuit for perfection is palpable in each artwork, her seriousness for the craft showing through the spirited play on colors and repetition of shapes. Pattern-making has emerged as one of her strengths, with her works grounded on intelligent design. The time and labor spent on each piece are visually evident, proving discipline to be the backbone of Tamoria’s art. In her hands, the manufactured medium is breathed soul, the artist’s passion giving personality to the inanimate. Her configurations may be calculated and premeditated, but it is her undeniable energy, dexterity, playfulness and problem-solving that not only permeate, but polish her pieces with artistic flair.