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.