Neil de la Cruz
Neil de la Cruz
Parabola plots on an open plan a series of instances --- seizing fleeting moments of a certain timeline riddled with histories, fictions, mundanities and explorations. Through animation and sculptural objects, Paulo Vinluan experiments with presenting symmetrical movement from one point, one moment to the next. His collage of hand-made imageries drawn from old tales and mythologies loop infinitely, shifting beginnings and denying endings. Still in a diaristic manner, he shapes imagined spaces for new associations and stories to unfold --- creating in the process timeless narratives that divert from linearity.
Rodolfo Gan’s second solo exhibition at Finale Art File is a continuation of his series of geometric abstractions. Using airbrush as his signature method for his square abstract paintings, his works evoke the lightness, balance and transparency of pure geometric lines and forms. Described as ‘timeless and dynamic, critical and introspective, but always forward looking’, his works reflect on the traditions of Modernism and its pursuit of the transcendental and the sublime.
In his paintings, the fine mists of gradient color give way to decisive lines and rugged edges that fold into labyrinthine and box-like structures that conjure ineffable emotional and mental landscapes. Gan draws from the works of three pioneers in Philippine modern art: Fernando Zobel, Lee Aguinaldo and Roberto Chabet, whose works opened windows for many young artists in the 70s and other succeeding generations. He shared Zobel’s fascination with the shifting qualities of light and color expressed through soft lines, as well as Aguinaldo’s linearity and geometry of vanishing fields. Zobel and Aguinaldo’s works charted the course of abstraction within the language of painting and surface compositions. Chabet, on the other hand, extended this discourse through the use of readymades and other non-traditional materials for art and their relation to space, site and context.
From this triumvirate of artistic impulses, Gan has defined his own parameters, creating personal configurations that are enduring as much as they are elusive in nature.
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Many animals like sloths and koalas don’t like being held; being carried around to pose for selfies could cause them great amounts of distress. What's more, many such animals are taken from their natural habitat and traded in exploitative ways so that people can take selfies on holiday. Two American men have been arrested for posting a photo on Instagram revealing their butts at Wat Arun, a Buddhist temple in Bangkok. Running an Instagram account called the Traveling Butts, they post photos of themselves with their pants pulled down around the world. The account had over 14,000 followers. They remain in police custody even after paying a fine of 5,000 baht ($150 USD) each, and could face up to seven years in prison.
So, to prepare you for your beach vacation, we have gathered the best Beach Instagram Captions for your photos: High tides, good vibes. Sea you soon. Beach days always. Salty but sweet. Girls just wanna have sun. Happiness comes in waves. You are the piña to my colada. (To Yoga Selfie, Or Not To Yoga Selfie? — THAT is the question.) Enjoy your stay at Fools’ Paradise!
100 Still Life Paintings 1947-2019, A Retrospective
Still life—that once humble genre of painting—is now an assertive force of figuration, attuned to the times. With humanity’s loss of faith on grand narratives, objects present themselves as epigraphs of intimacy, the telltale evidence of a life: a fruit cut open by a seaside balcony, a pair of stilettos against a darkened window, the preparatory ingredients of a meal. Alfredo Roces, who has devoted himself to attending to the small-scale, the ordinary, the magisterially short-lived, paints with the devotion of a poet. He is not merely an illustrator of objects, but a singer of shapes and surfaces. At once elegies and odes, his works both praise and lament the intractable lives of perishable things.
Each painting is a life stilled in the attention of the moment, kissed with light or exuding its own glow. Seen from different vantage points, the object as subject crystallizes perception. We see them as the artist wishes us to see: the glinting crown of apples, the luminous seeds of papaya crowding the fruit, the shadowed mouths of vases. And yet, something else transpires, how the figure and the ground circle together to become an almost continuous shimmering plane. It is as if the object activates the space around it. Perhaps, the opposite is also true: the space rushes toward the object as some kind of magnetic pull. The variegated blue, for instance, that surrounds a hibiscus, charges the luscious bloom with something akin to electricity.
A retrospective of still lifes Roces painted in the span of seven fruitful decades, the exhibition is a veritable archive of life’s plenitude that is held, eaten, celebrated, seen up close, or admired from a distance. As viewers, we are invited to a banquet of objects whose forms are apperceived and what we see is the essential quality of the thing. This is Alfredo Roces’ moveable feast.
Carlomar Arcangel Daoana
Muchi Lao’s talent of impulse, reaction to instinct, and chance voyeur precede his lens. His cameras mainly serve as accomplices to stake out, observe and eventually catch the perfect prey of an interesting-enough subject matter. He appreciates stillness but with the condition of purpose. Often he locks in a target that offers either the finest intrigue, or an inimitable movement pattern: the mercurial moment as his subject is seized in the fluidity of time – even in its most organically ephemeral cycle of composition and decomposition. It is in the same transitory state of affairs found in his daily ‘discovery trails’ along with its incidentals that affords Lao huge traction over his everyday capture.
For Split Second, the inspiration is more deeply rooted in past events and experiences from which personal sketches have emerged: “To some perspective, I’ve learned that nothing seems to stick anymore, or lasts long enough to establish connections and authenticities. One can easily be dismissed before really understanding, or proving anything at all. There is a load of reality on taking years to build something and yet only have seconds to waste everything.” Lao’s indistinct imagery depicted in this recent series of photographs particularly with Speed In Slow Motion, On The Clock and Before These Crowded Streets portray hints and vestiges of hurried everyday life, almost revealing and perhaps insinuating, both shortage of stillness and copious cacophony with humanity dissolving into ambiguity. “Every second counts for many of us living and unintentionally disappearing within city congestion, in the same manner, we also miss moments of joy and pleasure as well as the big picture. We simply survive everyday madness just to meet demands, keep up with social media, toil tirelessly until we slowly dissipate into sad clichés and lose time for many things that are more meaningful. Everything just seems to fade in a blur,” Lao illuminates further.
Though one thing remains clear, Lao’s streak of artistry from his painting days at the University of the Philippines in Diliman has carried over to his photographs – showing visible threads of chiaroscuro as though monochromatic brush strokes, evidently exhibited by his haunting loners: Ghost, Last Seen and Day Off. Meanwhile, If I’ll Ever See You Again proves his preference for black and white contrasts over color charisma: “One does not normally see in two tones, but through the facets of light and shadow I witness real emotions expressed without the distraction of kaleidoscopic pigment. I get a more straightforward sense of drama and a real narrative, which allow me a more explorative arena,” he describes.
Split Second is one story with a set of side tales – of jaded and nearly lost souls; of seemingly endless predictability; of seeking redemption from routine, or liberation from life’s perfunctory labor; of missed opportunities; of unfinished business; of the need to pause. In Lao’s eyes, these time-lapsed occasions, mere instances, and short-lived affairs are enough for a split-second snap, to paint a real picture of an incredibly accelerated pace some call life.
Wail From the Backdoor
Disassembling, death, decay—the self’s ultimate destiny. It is Lynyrd Paras’ preoccupation, the mortal limits of the body. And the body, it self, even if still alive (presumably) leaks, wastes away, putrefies—a clean hole in the head. Body parts are fragmented, anatomized for all the world to see. “This is me, this is the body that you used to love.” Everywhere there is an impending threat of annihilation. Even love is a knife to the wrist, a rope, a gun already pointed to the heart. Love is death, and death is its own reward. A flash of small light from a car tumbling into abyss. The eyes open but seeing nothing. The bliss of oblivion. The forever darkness.
Paras’ art is his suicide note. He paints people not as an artist but the one cursed. He knows your wounds and the depths of those wounds because there is always an ax lodged in his brain. From the backdoor, he wails. The cry is one continuous expenditure of the energy of the soul. But you will not hear him, because the turntable is spinning, the music is loud, and the bullets drop to the floor like loose change. What you see in the end is the coffin in the middle of the room. Concrete, it is difficult to move. The pieces of evidence of a life jut out: trophies broken and now ultimately meaningless, foils of antidepressant, a cellphone. A pair of glasses. The implements of murder, of art.
Art and death, is there much of a difference? This is the final resting place of all sorrow and all happiness. Even death is a visitor bearing flowers. This is the wish not to be seen, not to be touched. Lynyrd Paras has long left the building. And he doesn’t want you to cry.
Carlomar Arcangel Daoana
BEMBOL DELA CRUZ
Despite its trend in the last few years, the stigma of having tattoos remains. Often correlated to prison culture, carriers of these markings are easily presupposed to be immoral and malign. Bembol Dela Cruz's latest series Labeled assembles depictions of friends and colleagues who sport sleeve tattoos, as a manner of diverting the usual practice of portraiture that focuses on faces. With each imprint carrying its on narrative, the permanency of ink on skin reveals more about the person than that has of faces --- an awareness that has brought the artist to emphasize each unique design exclusively carried by these individuals.
The redundancy of gas masks while facing to the left parallels the societal fallacy of condescending sameness among people who have tattoos. As though a form of toxicity, the conventional view of modified bodies still receive fear, apprehension and distress, as though physical taint deserves smearing of the person where judgement precedes any possibility for introduction and even engagement. For its bearers, the stereotyping brings forth suffocation, as though unable to be seen even as human. Paired to the paintings is a wall-bound wood cut-out that resemble the experience of getting tattoos, where pain intensity fluctuates from the moment the needle touches one's dermis to the point the design is realized. Highlighting the reality of physicality for such sessions and the endurance required to achieve its beauty shows the gravity and seriousness of the markings.
Beyond aesthetics, tattoos speak deeply of one's struggles, beliefs, histories and presents; they are chronicles of moments and impressions of selves concretely committed to skin. These stamps of identity, in its intricacy and spaces, speak volumes of the person beneath it.
Henrielle Baltazar Pagkaliwangan continues her fascination with Manila Bay as viewed from the Association of Pinoyprintmakers (AP) studio located at the Tanghalang Francisco Balagtas, formerly known as the Folk Arts Theater. Almost completely surrounded by land, Manila Bay serves as the womb for maritime activities and important events in history. It is also known for its scenic views which are captured and reproduced over and over again that it has become a part of our collective memory. Each print in this series shows the breakwater and the dock stretching out into the bay as buildings and vessels seem to sink below the horizon. At sundown, these structures glint in the night sky as light reflects off the dark waters.
Both sky and water are subject to the whims of the sun as their color changes at different times of the day: sunrise, sunset, night, and the moments in between. Henrielle recreates this panoramic view of Manila Bay with its famous Manila skyline multiple times while applying gradations of color to evoke varying tone and mood. She employs drypoint, a printmaking technique in which the image is scratched into the surface of a plate—in this case, an acrylic sheet—with a hard-point needle. Using this technique is a matter of course for Henrielle whose pen and ink and watercolor drawings, with their fine lines and soft details, exude the qualities found in these prints.
With the arresting image of the natural harbor recorded at specific times of the day, Timestamps is a meditation on the fleeting nature of time. Small in scale for a subject matter as vast and iconic as Manila Bay, these works serve as personal mementos of a shared experience among members of the AP, who also respond to their artmaking as a communal practice within and beyond the space of their studio. Printmaking, the art of reproducing text and images using a template, is akin to the act of remembering—a series of repetitions laced with subtle nuances over time.
(W. L. Guzmanos)
When painters paint landscapes it often takes two distinct directions. In one, the details are heightened, magnified. Every blade of grass seemingly visible, every reflection of light rendered, the surfaces of rock, soil, and sea captured in minutiae. In the other, the landscape loses its detail. The marks of nature give way to expressive marks of the brush, or to abstract dimensions of color, form, and line. Eschewing the environment’s textural densities, Ayka Go opts for the latter in her solo exhibition entitled Ephemeral Landscapes.
This current set of works reveals a continued engagement with paper, a sensitivity aligned with the rendering of the material’s tears and folds in paint. In one aspect, the paintings are a record of visual impressions, culled from the artist’s travels via train in other countries. In the past, rail-based transportation provided new perspectives of the land. The speed and swiftness by which one traveled over the surface of the earth, unencumbered by the limitations of human and animal legs, lent itself to fresh geographical imaginings.
But in our current period, such vistas from a window has become more commonplace. In lieu of novelty, the passing landscape became conjurer of reveries and reflections. It transformed into a layered ephemera: an overlap of a place glimpsed too briefly, and the relentless thoughts – sometimes troubled, oftentimes anxious, almost always quotidian—that beset our existence. And yet, despite their perfunctory apparitions, these sights often provide reprieve; their distance a source of comfort for the perturbed.
Perhaps it is part of their nature, untethered as they are from the complications we often find in the places where we are rooted. The passing landscape is weightless. It shimmers in its strangeness. Beheld at a time of personal unsettling, Go reimagines them unanchored from the density of detail, from the concrete gravity of daily life. She finds respite in their surfaces. In these works, you may flit and flicker along the landscape’s creased inflections, or drop inconsequentially between the layers.
JEONA ZOLETA ft. EMMANUEL D'ABOVILLE
Filling a cup with wine to chase the dragon in me
Jeona Zoleta begins with a myriad of things: Lucretius' De Rerum Natura, the Japanese tradition of Ikebana or "way of flowers", the book The Jazz of Physics by Stephen Alexander, the Disney movie Anastasia, and several other television series. As she traverses the path through domesticity and motherhood, she returns to her anchor in nature and the intoxicating poetry of life. She cites the summer heat in its "intense dryness filled with noisy bugs and the quiet scent of flowers;" feels the motion of the woods as a "soul forming from a seed."
In this quotidian frenzy, she creates with her husband a certain quiet, an installative still life, a merging of the dream-like imagery of her paintings with his carpentry and hydrophonics. Much like the process of Ikebana, one that they both shared as they prepared the decorations for their life together, there comes a semblance of settling down and arranging the world --- with one's past adventures and behaviors --- the way one imagines it to be. Her new life, literally (re) birthed as she carries her child through this earth, is where she creates slivers of moments for her artistic practice, for her own growth as an individual that is ever mutating and ever evolving but still remains the same.
Domesticity, however hectic, has also brought her to a space of solace, focus and clarity. The exhaustion and the lack of time has bred in Zoleta a certain fascination and contentment for the demands of mundanity, the flow of nature, the essence of living. Zoleta's exhibition is a sneak peak for her work at Palais de Tokyo this June.
Oh Baby Baby It's a Wild World
Pete Jimenez’s drive to realize extensive experimentation of materiality and form continues with his latest exhibition Oh Baby Baby It’s a Wild World. His use of a wide range of repurposed media, from steel and ball mills to rubber and leather gathered through the years from various junkshops, takes on new forms as they are re-configured into abstracted art pieces. The materials’ aesthetic transformation aims to highlight its raw and inherent characteristics, keeping intact scratches, rusted fragments and markings. With minimal intervention and driven by intuition, Jimenez allows the media to speak for itself.
Although pregnant with history as seen in every trace of discoloration and streak, the materials are also given space to take on new narratives as they are arranged and shaped into novel, imagined and formalistic impressions. This duality produced by the forms is Jimenez’s venture to balance out the testimonies of the medium and the artist’s hand, especially without a direct intent or tale to tell. Seemingly random but fueled by his quotidian realities, his focus instead is on process, materiality and the possibilities of form.
When Surfaces Misbehave
Jan Balquin continually disrupts her audience’s preconceived notion on the limitations of an image/object in front of them. In her current works, she attempts to chronicle the image’s physicality, immovability, and materiality. Balquin’s tendencies as a sculptor who creates faux realities with her material of choice has informed her reimagining of the ground on which paintings lie. In each of her works, she tries to blur the line between reality and illusion. As she furthers her inquiry, the audience experiences a gigantic wall enclosed inside a space; a canvas cut-out like a thin sheet of paper; an oil painting without a canvas nor a stretcher that folds and hangs like a piece of cloth; and paintings that start to misbehave.
Ranelle Dial's "Revolves" is a series of paintings and objects that document the process the motions of the earth's rotation. Similar to how a sundial functions, each work presents a portion of time as it moves from darkness to lightness and vice versa. Angled accordingly in 30 degree lapses, every hour in a 12-hr period is chronicled on each image, and is marked more intently through a parallel installation that shows the shifts of shadow and illumination with every turn.
Drawing inspiration from Martin Creed's 'Work No. 88' (1995), a crumpled piece of blank A4 paper into a sphere, and Latifa Echakhch's 'Globus' (2007), a print of a crumpled world map, Dial depicts another layer to the subject by translating it through paint on canvas. Formalistically, it turns into a challenge of whether one will be able to capture the same volume despite the change of shape. The pieces are also an extension of her 2014 exhibition titled "Pocket Its", a collection of crumpled manila paper illustration objects and most definitively a stain-like figure of the world map, and of her 2011 exhibitions "Hide Seek and Keep" and "Seek Keep and Hide", a set of oil paintings of various empty receptacles on bare almost eerily serene looking spaces as well as installative versions of maps.
This process of concealment and revelation has been a constant point of exploration for Dial, where the quiet becomes an entry point for indefinite questioning. Tension and a sense of anxiety can be felt in the act of creasing and wrinkling. What is intended to be flatly seen and 2-dimensional, as in a map, is obscured --- both hidden and revealed at the same time through folds, dents and creases. Definitive contexts and spaces are also made ambiguous as the act of crumpling literally merges varying parts of the earth. The focus instead moves to chiaroscuro and its imitation of the movement of the earth. Time then becomes the only overarching chronicle of the everyday regardless of standpoint --- a shared experience of the routine in mundanity.
Gus Albor's latest exhibition Encompassing is an experimental play of contrasts and surfaces. At its center stands a 7ft-high interactive revolving door made of metal and acrylic. Fastened on its acrylic wall is a paper in white, gray and earth tones, while charcoal, sticks and pencils are attached to the door's blade or vertical side.
As one enters and the door turns, thick and thin horizontal linear imprints marks the paper --- creating in the process flat abstracted pieces. Parallel to this is a large painting inspired by the structure itself; however, this time, static and steady. This duality in experience allows viewers to see in one space both the dynamic and changing beside the stationary and fixed. The interaction created by the mechanism also breaks the division between artist and spectator as visitors become instrumental in the very generation of the markings on the paper.
In its entirety, one is able to witness the possibilities in producing works of minimalist abstraction. Conceptualized in 2012 in MKahoy, Batangas, the piece was a version of Albor's entry to the Venice Biennale four years ago that didn’t proceed due to logistical issues. (Iris Ferrer)
The country's first National Artist, Fernando Amorsolo, with his romanticized imagery of the countryside, promoted the prettified depiction of the Philippines as a nation which the West to this day reinforces as the conventional portrayal of the tropics --- sun, smiles and sweetness. With links to patronage that encourages his works to be highly valued in the art market, the Amorsolo brand is also heavily historicized in Philippine art education. He mediated the pastoral as the idyllic --- an often wearisome term used to describe his pictures.
My first intervention into the Amorsolo trope was initially demonstrated in the video titled “Tropical Loop” which I introduced at Art Fair Philippines in 2018. In it, I adopted the artist's most popular iconography “Dalagang Bukid” (country maiden) in a diptych that had me in one video slowly and repetitively navigating a rice paddy set against the majestic Mt. Banahaw. The second video offered a counterpoint where I performed the tradition of winnowing rice as I climbed up and down the stairs; it was an action that virtually replaced the “pretty” and instead suggested Albert Camus' Sisyphean act of the classically programmed futility of labor. Here, I propose that even with the impression of nostalgia and so-called beauty, there is a continuing and spiraling crisis.
Amorsolo was a painter who reproduced many of his rosy landscapes featuring locals frolicking in green or golden fields in the series “Dalagang Bukid.” He had numerous iterations of his works “Under the Mango Tree,” “Planting Rice,” etc. --- visual tropes that were amplified throughout his career. As further intervention, I replicated some of these iconic works but reduced them to recognizable lines and patches of color. I put forward the idea that what is perceived as the picturesque may now just be faceless and vague visions caught in suspended manual exertions.
My work is often an attempt to distill the dualities and inconsistencies of human character. In New Paintings, I ruminate, dream, agonize and become haunted by ideas of mothers and daughters, deliquents and debutantes, childbirth and marriage, and of death and defiance all ground and milled in a continuous, endless rotary of pasts, presents and futures.
Liv Vinluan was born in 1987 into a family of artists and academicians. She graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts in 2009. In 2016 her work, Carino Brutal, was Shortlisted for the Ateneo Art Awards Fernando Zobel Prize for Visual Art. In the same year, she was invited and commissioned by the Lopez Museum and Library for the exhibition, Exposition. The commissioned piece, entitled Cabilogan ng Isang Cuadranggulo (The Roundness of A Square) was in turn nominated for the 4th edition of the Asia Pacific Breweries Signature Art Prize. Late last year, Liv was selected as the recipient of the Karen H. Montinola Selection grant for Art Fair Philippines 2019. She lives and works in Rizal, with her husband artist Ian Jaucian.
In his 18th solo exhibition, 22ESB75CC, Dex Fernandez sprawls the reach of the gallery walls—and floors—to unleash what is at once intimately autobiographical and universally expansive, a frenetic survey of the past two years of his life marked by the death of a parent, a serious medical situation, a confrontation turned violent. Fernandez transmits these events (and more) through the prism of his personal iconography suggestive of anything from cell mutations to starbursts.
The metaphorical beginning of this exhibition is his childhood home—the acronym of the title reduced into a code—in which his deceased parents transform into symbols merging into the environment at once celestial and subterranean. From this point, one proceeds to the mural dazzlingly chronicling the events of recent past, then onwards to the terrific replication of his garapata icon, then to the monochromatic rendition of the life of a party with its rhythms and erotic possibilities, concluding with a lone figure, crouched in a fetal position, floating into the void.
Everywhere in the exhibition there is movement, dance, the impulse to connect and disengage, as the universe of Fernandez keeps expanding: from the streets, to the bars, to the hectic textures of cities, to the evolving spheres populated with flashing gizmos and signs and motifs—staggering in scope, unstoppable in its expansion, hypnotic in its repetitions.
22ESB75CC pulls all the stops in bringing his paintings, wallpaper works, and garapata series in a new and unprecedented scale—a performance of a singular sensibility and seemingly limitless energy. It is a portrait of the artist, yes, but it may also be of the viewer, who swirls into the velocity and vortex of this exhibition, becoming a beating heart to the visual orchestra that Fernandez conducts, one that is marked by an immersive, tremendous, and never-ending creation, mutation, and transformation
(Carlomar Arcangel Daoana).
Four Things In Michelle Perez’s new set of paintings, she simplified and schematized four things by not just utilizing gestural marks and geometric shapes, but also visually manifesting an artist’s reliance on the intuitive process. Equally important to our appreciation of intuition in creative work, we can also anchor our journey to understanding the exhibited works to the meaning of non-figurative types of art. “Abstract art is often seen as carrying a moral dimension, in that it can be seen to stand for virtues such as order, purity, simplicity, and spirituality." Through these four virtues, we can associate Perez’s four paintings to ideas that resonate with us. Thing of order There is a glaring contrast in the artwork Stone Piles. The red and orange hues of the background are reminiscent of the sun rising or setting. In the painting, the colors are made to complement a pile of stones we usually associate with or see in beaches or the shore with cool tones where flat rocks are usually found. They were rendered to appear as silhouettes at the center of the image plane. When Perez made the work, she felt that it was a complete piece after collaging and applying paint of different sizes and shapes. But by yielding to the urge of innovation in her art practice, she incorporated the black pieces to form the stone piles. There is an evident order of thought in the process that is transmitted to the viewing of the painting. Even in abstraction, there is common linearity as we attempt to understand it. Thing of purity Perez was attracted to a leaf drawing made by American artist Ellsworth Kelly she saw in a friend’s photo. The artwork must have been one of Kelly’s plant drawings, which he did over the years of his artistic practice that is widely known for abstraction. Perez mimicked the shapes and transformed them into surfaces she can use for her piece After Kelly. The painting with greens and yellows illustrates for us a kind of pure connection. According to one article on Kelly, “Plants, then, are a gateway to abstraction – much like the windows, staircases and other neutral bits of which Mr. Kelly derived some of his early paintings.” The two artists are linked by the style of color field painting, more so through this perceptible bind of aesthetic influence. Thing of simplicity The painting Sticks, Stones, Things conjures for us the joy we feel through simple things. There is so much visual satisfaction when an artist can make an abstract work comprehensible and is done with virtuosity. The combination of the geometrical lines, graphic representation, and playful use of color situate our imagination in a degree of limitless freedom; much like what Perez feels about her chosen medium. There is also simplicity in the process of giving in to one's creative urge. Despite the skills she gained from training on enamel painting and portraiture, she chooses to explore the infinity of abstraction. Even though she is frustrated by the tediousness of the labor needed and trial and error mode to build an idea into a finished form, she is dedicated to evolving and reinventing her works through further exploration without boundaries. Thing of spirituality When asked about her artistic process, Perez said that making art harnesses her intuition, because deciding whether a painting is complete or not relies solely on her instinct. She was inspired by Aboriginal art she encountered while she was living in Australia. Even when she settled back here, the influence of the spiritual link of indigenous art manifests in her works. Since then, she has incessantly reanimated these dot paintings into works with depth, texture, and that employs unlikely techniques such as collaging. After the Rain directly demonstrates the transcendent response to the challenge of knowing when to stop or to continue working on something. There is an extent of spirituality when intuition and instinct come into play. In women studies, it has been observed that depending on instinct is an important adaptive approach for self-protection, self-assertion, and self-definition. To immerse ourselves in the viewing experience of the displayed four paintings, we empower the artist in her self-discovery in this artistic path. (Con Cabrera)
this used to be a house
French philosopher Gaston Bachelard referred to a house as our “corner of the world”, a place where we reside and take root. Its corners and spaces serve as the setting in which the residues of our life accrue. So fundamental is our connection to these structures that we often go through life seemingly tethered to them. For many, regardless of the distance of their travels, a seemingly unbroken string binds them to home. But if our house occupies an elemental position in our being, the summer house— that backdrop of countless vacations— dwells in a more unconventional, but nonetheless vital, part of our selves.
The imagery of the house is a cornerstone of Isha Naguiat’s visual language. Her works navigate through the materiality of fabric and thread, interspersed with the emotional and nostalgic significations of family photos. These layers of material and image are often framed within the basic structure of a house. Here in her latest exhibition, the artist turns her attention to a family abode by the beach that in recent years have been eaten up by the sea.
In both static and moving images, Naguiat juxtaposes past and present, rendering the house’s structure in flux and recalling gaps in time that led to its transfiguration. These gaps have often been traversed by way of recorded image or narrative retelling, anchored within the walls and beams where the events took place. The vacation house then, even in ruins, can summon the perpetual sunshine of carefree days, the insouciant crash of waves.
Learning how the scrap remains of the house were used by the local community to create a seawall, Naguiat reckons of a dual narrative— one of decay and of life. In the coming centuries we may not be able to keep the waters at bay. The habitations we carve from stone and sand may prove to be futile. Yet in the gap between the present and the inevitable, potential futures expand and take space, materials dance and metamorphose. The same concrete which shores up memories of the sea also stems its tides.
MARK ANDY GARCIA
Reflective Thought – One’s Clandestine to the Promised Land Still waters run deep. This proverb rings true in the many facets of Mark Andy Garcia – as an artist, a thinker, and a person who values his effect on people who surround him. Garcia has been present in the art world for quite some time now and the evolution of his body of work has been palpable, if not commendable. Even though he has been painting the same things and conveying the same messages, one cannot miss the shifts and progressions. His once radical, nonchalant, and self-regarding narratives and approaches in his artworks somehow became coded imageries of composure. There has been a pivot in his manner of dealing with struggles where he learned to be kinder and gentler towards himself and those who are causing him pain. Maturity provided him the capacity to handle hostile emotions brought about by tribulations in his personal life.
Now, he chooses to feel calm through landscapes, always opening with the foundational vertical and horizontal lines before he flows into the rhythm of painting. He always includes a view of the horizon. He uses simple colors. He takes inspiration in what is beautiful and existing in his surroundings. In his old works, narratives are dominant. Garcia used to tell stories within the bounds of the image plane, a story in each painting, a segment of his life in each exhibition. Eventually, he came into the realization that people don’t need to know everything and that he has to keep aspects of his life private. This doesn’t mean though that he has a happier life now. It’s still sad at times, he said, evidently reflected on the sustained romantic ambiance of his color compositions. He used to relate to art that depicts melancholy.
Now, he feels that he can be inspired by what is beautiful in his surroundings. The sunflower paintings Thankful Heart 1 and 2 are examples of this beauty that he describes. His current mindset is to focus on presenting solutions rather than problems. Defeat in life is not an option, even if what he has gained in the end are simple lessons on living or just a deeper sense of self. Alive and Well is a self-portrait. This painting, together with Flow of Ideas, was made to tackle the personally challenging color of blue. Garcia said that he finds it difficult to use cool hues because he's more familiar with utilizing earth tones. He was also keen on including the presence of water and the motion that it makes in his new set of paintings. The infinitely moving current runs endlessly and easily, akin to his current flow of ideas.
In his more than a decade-long career, he has created a substantial number of works already. Nevertheless, he always wants to improve the old ones and this motivation produces new ideas for different works. He realizes a lot from this process of reflective thinking; how he speaks, how he wants to be heard or understood, how he wants to be remembered. Promised Land encapsulates the essence of the show. The title he chose for the exhibition and his large-scale work summarizes periods of past, present, and future. Garcia is interested in the exploration of time in his concepts, harmonized by his hue choices. Drawing from memory, he painted a tree he frequently sees and thus, evokes. From afar it may look dry, but as you look closer, you’ll discover the young leaves that indicate hope. The horizon separates the heaven from the earth; the image of the tree symbolizes the way on how we can cross the transcendent phase.
While each experience in this crossing differs from one person to another, Garcia’s faith will keep us assured of our time to receive the benefits of surrendering to the divine – if only for humility, peace of mind or compassion. A reflective practice propels the artist we now encounter. When asked about how he achieved consistency in his style, Garcia attributes it to his years of painting. He used to attempt to paint like a child. Eventually, the hand gestures became natural to him. Even his generosity with the medium, though doesn’t completely define his distinctiveness, is something that matured with him. He also seems more confident in what he’s doing. His paintings and his demeanor exude this. When he was starting, he was searching and projecting an identity as an artist.
But now, his constant pursuit of a trademark has ended. I say because he already earned it. His sense of self was achieved through action and rigorous thinking about transforming who, what, and how he was that was revealed in his artworks. Sometimes, as individuals who are trying to survive in this day and age, we tend to neglect our spiritual selves; that it should proceed after we look after our basic needs. This spirituality doesn’t always have to be in forms of the divine or religious. We can take cue from this artist who thinks before he speaks, who is empathetic, who is working on the self to be better.
As a gesture of inward reflection, Elaine Navas turns her gaze away from the ocean and skies in Little Monuments, and she turns it towards seemingly ubiquitous views of her intimate interior life, through the produce that pervade it. In this tender series of works, Navas distills her memories in arrangements of fruits and vegetables, using these paintings of still lives as markers of her own — little monuments to the moments she wants to keep alive, despite the growing distance of her family’s personal geographies.
A bowl set on top of a refrigerator shelf is her daughter’s: something lovingly placed at her eye level, when she used to live with Navas and her husband. A dragon fruit arrangement, seen along a roadside carinderia just outside Fort Ilocandia, is worthy of a different kind of permanence because it was a marker of her last trip with her whole family in the Philippines. A visit to her daughter’s house in Los Angeles is kept alive through a bowl of fruits set against a bright blue table: faces drawn on the fruit by the best housemates her daughter could have had. A vegetable arrangement in Ilocos “acting like fruits,” attracted fat, heavy flies becomes a reminder of a funny memory of her husband. Even more ordinary still, an everyday arrangement of bananas is immortalized because of their brown freckles.
Little Monuments is a study of ‘everyday aesthetics,’ where beauty is seen in each ordinary arrangement. Here, Navas gives the small and quiet moments in her life reverence using the body of the paint that she uses and the movement of her gestures. She imbues life into the images she keeps and makes, magician’s trick that makes each of them much more than a bowl of fruit or an arrangement of vegetables.
Hers is the hand that pushes you to see past the ordinariness of things, to break through the almost automatic register of mundanity and see the beauty in and of itself, not in spite of. These are attempts at keeping still the lives around her (including her own) that carry on moving and changing. Never intrusive or restrictive, Navas’s paintings give honor to what has happened, no matter how small the “event” is and each of them give way for that which will happen next.
In “Bonsai,” poet Edith Tiempo writes “All that I love / I fold over once / And once again / And keep in a box / Or a slit in a hollow post / Or in my shoe.” This series of paintings is Navas’ way of scaling “all love down / To a cupped hand’s size,” to keep forever without holding on too strongly to memories that resist being kept prisoner. In this way, they are kept alive and precious. (Carina Santos)