“In the ignorance that implies the impression that knits knowledge that finds the name form that whets the wits that convey contacts that sweeten sensation that drives desire that adheres to attachment that dogs death that bitches birth that entails the ensuance of existentiality.” — James Joyce, Finnegans Wake Occasionally a rumble, and often a hiss. After struck by lightning and shuffling off into a dissolution of a continuity. A tangent snakes and glides across the cusp of the recovery of a history previously hidden. What is extraordinary always seems extraneous until examined from a vantage that is not one’s own. Speed turns a point into a line, and networks of lines issuing formations and malformations across discrete planes following divergent pathways and moving at relative velocities. Countless couplings and decouplings, nodes imploding into themselves and exploding inside and outside of time; a wire dangles disconnected and a flurry of static. Through a gate formed by intersections of synthetic neon lights and a cold metallic sheen: Sometimes a machine in the process of dismantling itself. Sometimes a discontinued rhythm undulating through broken syntax. Sometimes a system on the verge of structural collapse. Sometimes an oscillation between states. Sometimes a cosmology dragged through the desert. Sometimes an organism in the process of replicating itself. Sometimes a season of mist or a season of slime or a climate of otherness. Sometimes a parable of the virtual running innumerable simulations at once. Sometimes a drone that drives or drops depending on perspective. Sometimes a nerve is pinched while a gland is overstimulated. Sometimes a one and sometimes a zero. All is dematerialized and reconstituted, subverting temporal orientation until it spirals into ether. To move with or to move through are spatial negotiations of the senses as they pass through a series of mechanisms that urge them toward alteration. A jolt, a shock, a buzz, a rupture until a rapture wakes in lurid colors to luxuriate in the raw. Then space becomes time and time folds in on itself until it appears to become flattened while it thickens with variegated textures distorting its constitution, permitting the onset of a flood. Stillness moving, acidic, acerbic, amorphous, frictional, fracturing, fictive, fossilized, vaporized, vanishing. Punctures in the fabric eventually reveal particles colliding against one another and waves interrupting omnidirectional frequencies, a dance that issues sparks. Through the wormhole and toward a chaosmatic fissure bristling with electricity, a constant vociferation of sound and image, the transmutation of life worlds. (Itos Ledesma)
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few," so says one Zen Buddhist writer. In Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers," he proposes the notion that 10,000 hours (roughly 10 years) of practice makes one an expert at something. If I count from my first solo exhibition in 1992, my art making practice has spanned 28 years, give or take a few months. I can truthfully say that through that time, up to the present, I have been working steadily except only on days when there was compelling reason not to. I must be an expert, then, at least 2 times over.
Here are the things I believe I have become an expert at:
1. Waiting to begin something
2. Staring at nothing
3. Beginning something
4. Beginning something then abandoning it right away
5. Beginning something then abandoning it half-way
6. Beginning something, seeing it all the way through then changing it to something else
7. Imagining limits to my abilities
8. Accounting limits to my resources
9. Ignoring imagined limits to my abilities
10. Ignoring limits to my resources
11. Accepting all limits when there's no way to ignore them
12. Persisting Persistence turns the first idea into the best idea.
Persistence is the only tool I need. It does not go in my toolbox or hang on my wall. It never needs oiling or recharging. It works on the Grace of resoluteness given me. I dare say I am a successful artist, albeit by Winston Churchill's definition of it: "The ability to move from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm." Sometimes my enthusiasm gets masked by despair in my flawed nature, but deep down, deep, deep down, my enthusiasm lives. It is alive because of the knowledge that somehow I contribute capital to the "community of creative culture." I make things upon which others may build. Things to prop themselves up with to see over the wall of the quotidian into the unknown. "An unknown that begs us on and has always begged us on.” “Nunc coepi! Now I begin!"
Juan Alcazaren December 13, 2019
BEMBOL DELA CRUZ
In his solo exhibition, FLOM, acronym for “for love or money,” Bembol Dela Cruz interrogates the power—and limits—of belief accorded to things inflected with symbolic value. In a suite of paintings depicting defective and rejected icons, which still bear their divine features and countenance, the artist dares to ask what psychological and emotional leap the beholder undertakes in order to conceptually transform them into objects of veneration and devotion.
Is it the medium, gestured at by the hollow blocks, with one painted in gold, which has long been the color of divinity? Is it the form of the work? Is it the transformative labor of the artist? Or is it something quite intangible, which circulates within the field the object inhabits, such as the realm of religion with all its difficult histories?
By asking these questions within the tradition of faith, Dela Cruz extends the scrutiny to the realm of art itself, whose conception of beauty is amorphous and ambiguous at once. In the heated atmosphere of the contemporary art scene, where many players are exerting their say and influence, what will make an artist’s work command such fastidious and abiding belief? What makes an art object “worthy” enough to be believed in the first place? Is it remaining true to the fire of his vision (with the real possibility of ending up with unsold, rejected works) or will he allow whatever forces—market or otherwise—to take him wherever they blow?
Ultimately, Dela Cruz reignites the conversation on the opposing pull of commerce and creativity, exposing the fissure between peso and passion, between currency and integrity, between love and money.
(Carlomar Arcangel Daoana)
The Art Show Reframed
a whisper instead of a lecture
"Art objects are considered live social beings whose aesthetic value, significance, and emotional efficacy are subject to change in the course of their mobility through time and space." Thanks to the kindness of collectors who loaned valued artworks, we may have a redesigned aesthetic experience of old creations by Annie Cabigting, Roberto Chabet, Mars Galang, Nilo Ilarde, Geraldine Javier, Manuel Ocampo, Bernardo Pacquing, Gerry Tan, and Oscar Villamiel. The stage is set for a fresh viewing courtesy of the thoughtful exhibition production. Works are arranged to have contemporaneous dialogues with each other. Even with the invisibility of this labor, immersion is vitalized within the sensorial sphere. In the anthropological study of art, it is acknowledged that artworks have performative lives that intend to mediate symbolic significance. In this time and space, we are encouraged to enact a silence sensitive to the murmurs of awe or sublimity, to locate our sense of self through the resonance with the artworks on display.
Veronica Peralejo investigates the dynamics of manipulating space to create a visual spectacle of multifaceted landscapes. Her artworks are often referencing familiar objects, and imageries, constructed into witty hybrid abstract formations.
In a new series of works, Veronica Peralejo uses landscapes as an existential metaphor. The artist suspends an eggshell in a hand-bound book as she tries to interpret life tunneling through space and time, bridging the present, with the past, and the future. The cut out landscapes are deconstructs of imagined spaces where our known reality ends, and the vastness of the universe begins.
Veronica tries to develop forms that do not follow logical criteria, but are based entirely on subjective associations, with which the viewers can establish a new spectrum of formal parallelisms.
I Don't Want to Talk About It
Our lives flow beyond the surface of what we can see from the outside. Our body is but a vessel which houses a far deeper and richer world living within us. In moments of silence or reflection, we are brought to a space where we experience a feeling of immensity and expansiveness unbound by physical limitations. It holds intimate secrets and records every dream, hope, desire, and memory. The nature of our inner world echoes the nature of life-giving water; we draw upon it to nourish, heal, revitalize and purify our very being. It enriches and validates how we come to make sense of ourselves.
However, even the waters of our inner world can be contaminated and fatal. Its depths can choke us and drown us with its force so strong that it can overpower and consume us. It can be toxic— remembeing every pain, regret, harmful habit and thought that are destructive in nature. More often than not, it can leave us broken and hollow. And what is both equally fascinating and terrifying is that it is easier to circle back in this state compulsively—to be in the dark.
ND Harn’s first solo exhibition reflects the inner space she finds herself dwelling in. The process of repeatedly printing chosen images serves as a metaphor to represent how these specific memories recur in her psyche and unknowingly stir strong emotional responses. And the instinctive way to address these moments is to cover it in scribbles in an attempt to hide what is lingering beneath the surface. To be constantly caught in this vicious and exhausting cycle—an endless push and pull, the artist can only say “I Don’t Want to Talk About It”.
– Danna Espinosa
ARTURO SANCHEZ JR.
The exhibition “Heavy Ground” by Arturo Sanchez, Jr. is an ongoing exploration of the ideas of heaven, earth, and hell. For this chosen iteration of a sustained premise, the artist thought of activating the meanings of heavy and ground – the ground or surface of his wall-bound works makes for literally heavy objects when lifted; the subject matter, on the other hand, is the intangible weight of our current condition and our feelings.
Supposedly slated for April coinciding with the Holy Week, Sanchez initially anchored this exhibition to tackle the values of the Catholic devotion to Christ’s passion and cross. In commemorating this ritual, it is a time for reflection and repentance. The installation “Faith Fake Fade” was conceptualized and created in January inspired by the Black Nazarene procession. The image of a hanging crucifixion has always haunted the artist. The study of this three-dimensional piece was a collage shown in a previous exhibition titled “Matter and Spirit” and has now evolved into this evocative experience of an actual suspended figure and sprawling hands; filling in both a massive foreground and providing soul to the artist’s idea. In the middle of Sanchez’sartistic production, all movement was halted because of the pandemic. We were forced to take a prolonged Holy Week holiday –a time for introspection. The direction of the artworks pivoted to a contemplation towards our present situation.
Heavy ground in mining or racing terms is a weak ground; it’s not ideal and can cause failure. It’s a type of land that needs creativity and persistence to be functional. Similar to the experience achieved by the series “Order and Chaos” that appears to be lined-up black square paintings, you can only see the trapped images clouded by smoke and stain through a patient, keener and intimate viewing. The process of hunting and gathering, layering of collage and resin, the shifting of narratives, and the completion of different layers of a story has resulted to the works “Where We Find Ourselves In Now”, Mass Hysteria”, “Suddenly Gray”, and “In the Midst of the Unthinkable”. Each a response to the state of our, more than ever, intertwined lives. The artist marks his understanding of the world as something we can collectively relate to. Having to experience a global pandemic highlights the role of an artist as history’s storyteller. Whether cramped in our personal space viewing the exhibition on our devices or socially-distanced inside the gallery, we are witnesses of humanity’s narratives through Sanchez’s body of work.
Don't Block the Driveway
Inspired by the lives of people in his hometown of Ilocos Sur, Richard Quebral's works are playful yet darkreflections of contemporary material culture contoured and colored by the desire for a better life. Accentuated by the flatness of synthetic paint, Quebral's pop-infused art style subversively deploys familiar visual codes of commercial graphic design casting light on the superficiality and malicious effects of glamorous lifestyle commercially promoted in glossy ads.
This exhibition features new set of artworks created through Quebral's critical observations about theprocess of property development in the province, fragmentation of the life of local community into territories in contestation. His creative brush portrays a suburban home built on a lot as a monstrous body that restrains, mutilates, flattens and devours people into a brute mechanism. The dream of owning a homeis depicted as a horrific nightmare, transposing the notions of isolation, destruction and anxiety onto theideals popularly represented by a house - comfort, security, status and permanence. Never fulfilled, the desire for material wealth restlessly energizes the faceless coercive force that attempts to manipulate the values forming the foundation of life.
In Quebral's paintings, this perpetual circle of desire and vulnerability is translated into an optical space reminiscent of those produced by 8-bit video games. It grants the viewer the perspective of a player,holding the controller while comfortably seated in a couch. However, Quebral's work presents the absenceof a player-character and of the goal, leaving the questions to the viewer. Is the game already over or is it just paused? Would pressing the start button reset the game? Standing amidst the silent dialogues betweenpictorial and physical materialities, the viewer can no longer hold an objective perspective of a detachedobserver, and instead, is immersed in the quest of finding a goal in the game of life, designed by Quebral's unmediated experience and keen observations of the everyday life. (Mayumi Hirano)
Andre Baldovino maps through the similarities of lucid dreaming and painting in this exhibition. What we find here are oddly-shaped geometric forms resembling futurist landscapes; entrenched in scenarios where elements appear to be in suspended motion while clinging heavily to one another. These images are articulations of how the body negotiates while in the dream state. They illustrate the ability of the mind to control what occurs in a dream in between consciousness. The deliberate act of moving in the middle is an intercession linking action and analysis; spontaneity and discipline; manipulation and submission; grip and flow. To a certain extent, it allows the overlap of volitional abilities across such states and the waking life.
The execution of abstract expressionism in painting takes a similar hold when the artist begins producing spontaneous markings and gestures, swinging within the spaces in the canvas. Here, strong patches of colors are mitigated by the softness present along the edges of each mold, a mise-en-scène that hints at vague formations of structures. Sheets of elementary shapes dominate the generality of the space bringing a surge of movement amid the crowded convoluted figures. This suggests the experience of being tangled in a lucid dream where the mind becomes both complex and simple in its inner workings. One feels the entrapment and escape half-heartedly. Stillness and action both attempt a conclusion from a dialogue among the senses.
The unconstrained movements and strokes possibly lead Baldovino to an exploration of automatism but not entirely suppressing total control in the composition. Blocks of shapes and colors direct us to the mechanism of Baldovino’s process at work: recurring images that transport segments from one setting to another; a labyrinth occupied with configuration and symbols from the past, present, and, the imagined. (Gwen Bautista)
Oca Villamiel’s works in this exhibition take inspiration from Raku pottery. In 16th century Japan, the tea master Sen Rikyu commissioned the craftsman Chojiro to make chawan that reveled in quietness and simplicity. What came to be known as Raku ware would play a prominent part at Japanese tea ceremonies. Passed from palm to palm, the tea bowls accompany guests as they gather in an atmosphere of solemnity and order.
Raku pottery reflects this spirit of stillness, punctuated by moments of subtle intensity. During a visit to the Raku Museum in Kyoto, Villamiel admired the wares for both their form and the process of making. Raku does away with excessive ornamentation and the potter’s wheel. The form arises from a unique moment of contact, where the material of earth is warmed and molded by the maker’s hands, then graciously surrendered to fire, air, and chance.
Moved by the beauty of this process, Villamiel expresses his fascination with Raku in different moments and modes of making. Some are drawn quickly and instinctively in the silence of the Raku museum, while others are slowly painted and assembled to evoke the subtleties of Raku ware. The exhibition is an invitation to pause, to collect one’s thoughts, and to be present as we gather around a quiet earth. (Pristine de Leon)