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ANGGULO

July 1, 2018 | Archives | 1 Comment

A solo exhibition by Jonathan Joven

All This Glorious Mess

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.

Words by Kaye O’Yek

SOUL PORTRAITS

June 3, 2018 | Archives | 2 Comments

A solo exhibition by Arnold Bornios

Deciphering Spirit

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. 

Paper is 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 his message.

Having 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 pieces.

Inspired 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.

Words by Kaye O’Yek

BABY GIRL X

June 3, 2018 | Archives | 2 Comments

A solo exhibition by Tekla Tamoria

Paper Pyramid Puzzle Pieces

It took four years to create two paper gowns.

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.

Words by Kaye O’Yek

ACUITY

May 6, 2018 | Archives | 2 Comments

A solo exhibition by Gerry Castro

A Portal to Art and/in Music

In “Acuity,” Gerry Castro presents abstract pieces in ink on paper and mixed media on canvas, attaching raw sound assemblages of his own composition. By integrating his audiences to his process, he creates engaging and collaborative encounters with his artworks. The artist introduces a different way of seeing art by combining the visual object with sound snippets.

For his creative process, he uses ambient noise and recorded sound mixes for free-flowing, unstructured and impromptu sonic assemblages, sometimes including elements from his everyday life such as human breath, electronic pulses and gadget alerts, capturing texture, mood and feeling in the particular moment of creation. Recording in darkness, the artist immerses himself in the experience, and endeavors to encapsulate his impressions into visual form, translating them into strokes, dashes and scumbles. One form gives birth to another, as he draws inspiration from his recorded sound to put his paintings together, and complements the finished object, as he uses this specific sound to be enjoyed with the painting.

Castro’s childhood fascination with shapes, color and form are rendered into a series he calls Oculus Etude, which when translated directly means a portal to a short musical composition. He takes advantage of the tonal quality of monochromes by creating waves in random patterns, while his mixed media pieces show more energy and vibrancy in the combination of hues, lines and random patterns. Armed by his art education, affinity to music making, his experiences in film and photography, and pure instinct, the artist creates arresting pieces that appeal not only to one’s sight, but hearing as well. Postcard-sized sketches, photographs and other elements relevant to producing his materials are on display with samples of his art music in cd format to provide more dimension to his multisensory exhibition.

Gerry Castro graduated with a degree in Fine Arts majoring in Advertising from Philippine Women’s University. After studying photography and filmmaking, he went into freelance art direction and served as creative consultant for several local and global institutions and organizations. With his learnings from the industry and his incessant drive to create, he decided to focus on art making in 2015, developing his techniques in painting and sonic assemblage.

Words by Kaye O’Yek

RULE OF THUMB

May 6, 2018 | Archives | 1 Comment

A solo exhibition by Jacob Lindo

Meant to be Broken

Known for thought-provoking juxtapositions of disparate fragments in his works, Jacob Lindo produces a collection of much-awaited paintings that are direct translations of his paper collages in “Rule of Thumb.” In his recent works, Lindo explores the artistic journey itself, the struggle through its peaks and lows, crannies and plateaus. While executing his works, he investigates the essence of art production, weighing self-scrutiny versus public judgment.

Work tools are prevalent in Lindo’s works, as a moving testament to keep pursuing one’s goals and getting projects done. Anatomical features are cut up, but often show hands as an ode to labor and the power of well-thought out actions; feet are also held in prominence as the force that propels one forward. He stays true to his influences from cubist imagery, counter culture and oddities, with random elements in his works creating visual narratives filled with ambiguity and challenging sensibilities along the way. Storybook illustration-colors are devised to take his audiences’ perceptions into their comfort zones while he sets them up for a visual barrage of seemingly unrelated objects that eerily make up a cohesive whole that is equal parts whimsical and weighty without being overtly hard sell. For Lindo, personal and public biases may spell the differences between what is acceptable and what is not; the bottom line is, artists may be individuals most expected, even encouraged, to break the rules, and he wholeheartedly accepts the challenge.

Jacob Lindo is a professional artist who specializes in collage, painting and sculpture. He graduated from Far Eastern University, majoring in Advertising Arts, and has had nine solo exhibitions since 2010. He has been joining art competitions since his student days, placing as Finalist in the Oil Painting Category in the 38th, 39th and 41st Shell National Students’ Arts Competition, and winning third place in the same tilt’s sculpture category in 2006. He also won as Semi-finalist in the 2009 Metrobank Art and Design Excellence National Competition sculpture category. He was one of the featured artists of the recently-held Art in the Park 2018.

Words by Kaye O’Yek

UMBRA + PENUMBRA

April 8, 2018 | Archives | 2 Comments

A solo exhibition by Pinggot Zulueta

For his first solo show this year, Pinggot Zulueta gives light, or rather, casts a shadow to the uncertainties of life through “Umbra+Penumbra.” Umbra is the Latin word for “shadow,” which is also the term used to describe its innermost part, a place of total darkness. Penumbra, on the other hand, is the region in which only a portion of light is stained by an occluding body. Zulueta plays on the past, the familiar, and the nostalgic to obscure the crushing adversity that he experiences from day to day.

Unlike his recent shows in which he unleashed his sentiments in a cascading downpour, Umbra+Penumbra highlights moderated, controlled emotions. In a way, this is Zulueta’s stygian recollection of his coming-of-age years. With this exhibition, he takes us back to his childhood home in the countryside, where he often spent afternoons in the middle of crop fields and farmhouses and nights musing in his room, calling on the moon as his solitary companion.

For the artist, Umbra+Penumbra is his way of playing as a child again, staining white backgrounds with glee, covering mundane colorful objects, even old toys, with dark paint, while reuniting with his youthful soul. Like an eclipse, the two shadows umbra and penumbra silently dance within Zulueta’s monochromatic abstractions. Evident in the mixed media assemblages included in the collection is Zulueta’s utilization of found objects he deems familiar. Abstract sculptures are embellished with relics from his past– wooden figures, tattered cartons, miniature toy soldiers, ropes, an umbrella, newspapers, and antiquated books. The inclusion of these objects makes the works even closer to him and much more autobiographical.

“I just want to play with shapes and forms to escape from serious topics,” he says, “through the abstract form, I channel my focus in trying to unearth and interpret my personal experiences and perspectives, which are buried deep within me.”

With mixed media woodworks and assemblages capitalizing on old discarded and found objects fueled with incongruity and playing with tension by using blacks, whites, and grays, Zulueta touches on themes of attachment and abandonment, contrasting innocence with maturity, belongingness and alienation. Though shadowy, Umbra+Penumbra sheds some light on an artist’s inner conflicts, creating pieces of art that shine into one’s innermost recesses of memory and remembrance.

UNDERGROWTH

April 8, 2018 | Archives | 2 Comments

A solo exhibition by Demosthenes Campos

Trapped in the Undergrowth

Demosthenes Campos’ recent works in “Undergrowth” present mixed media pieces simulating gardens and landscapes with the use of household objects. As Campos explores his process and materials further, he continues to draw inspiration from nature, pushing himself to recreate abstracted dreamscapes replete with plant forms. Digging deep into his artistic foundations, he creates bushes, thickets and copses, managing to create pieces that breathe new life to commonplace wood scraps, scrubs, carpets, string, pegs, tags and patches.

In the exhibition, the artist invites his audience to go interactive and pore through a chest of drawers as if rummaging for treasure. In here, they will encounter lavender-blue and white Hydrangeas; Brushwood Fence with a seemingly 3D-mapped patch of grassy land and a wooden deck; Shrubbery, which, aside from its patches of wood shavings and fiber, may also be considered as a topographical map with crop circles; Lichen with its delicate buds and flowers; and Sibol (Growth) #6, with its tiny scrubby blooms on pastel planes. Scrape Nest resemble germinating pods with layers veiled by flying seedlings and streaks of paint on clear acrylic sheet. This is offset by Old Wood Texture, a gridded abstraction using the Philippine Flag’s muted colors. Along with the wear and tear brought about by what could only be imagined as scrapes with reality and neglect, this piece sets a stark reminder of what needs to be preserved and protected against man’s needless capacity for destruction.

With the vibrant greens of Forest Moss and the pure yet deadly Amanita Virosa or The Destroying Angel mushroom, however, Campos signifies that hope is where we choose to find it, promising new life on one hand and the ability to adapt on the other. Undergrowth is a glaring warning served by the artist which reminds us of the fragility of nature. Looking at Campos’ works and his skills in recreating bushes and grasslands with artificial substitutes might evoke lyrics to Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi:

“They took all the trees, put ’em in a tree museum And they charged the people a dollar and a half just to see ’em Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone They paved paradise and put up a parking lot”

While woodlands are protected by a healthy undergrowth, a habitat for various small animals and certain birds remain, teeming with life and scoring points for global ecological balance. Perhaps, as we enjoy the artworks on display, we ought to think about preserving the real things they embody as well.

Words by Kaye O’Yek