EDMUNDO FERNANDEZ

Drawings

From Residencies in Japan and France

 

This is a homecoming. Bro. Edmundo Fernandez stayed at the Vermont Studio Center in 2010 for an artist residency and shared his works through the gallery in an exhibition titled Suspended in 2011. A decade later, this same space presents the artist's drawings done in his artist residencies in Japan and France in 2019. Bro. Dodo is known to most as a Lasallian brother and the president of two La Salle schools – a religious and a leader who lives a life of service. "My life is a bit dichotomized." He said as he began to talk about his college life and finishing a degree in Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines. Manifestly, choosing to be a brother directed him to a different path. Despite the demands of his work in the institutions he belongs to, he is aware that his life journey is dedicated to bridging the seemingly disparate dispositions of art and administration. He walked the Camino in Spain by himself, which was 800 kilometers for 38 days, from town to town. He remembers this as a wonderful experience – it was life-giving. In a sense, this is similar to his immersions in artist residencies. Bro. Dodo feels that he only has time to make art when in recluse in the studio, because art-making consumes him. It's a complex mindset that takes up every ounce of physical, psychological, and emotional energy of his body. Such a necessary condition in art production makes the artworks displayed rather special.

 

While in Onishi - Contemplating mortality

 

The works made in Shiro Oni Studio Gunma, Japan depicts the artist's fascination and meditation on the transience of life and his abhorrence of war. He's so enchanted by the fact that there are myriad ways of expressing the value of existence, or even when death comes upon us. He was so moved by the mental picture of persons jumping from the Twin Towers during the September 11 attack in the US. The very intense process of drawing images of Holocaust victims perhaps reflects the minor vocation crisis Bro. Dodo went through during this time. "It might have also prefigured all the death in the pandemic." He said. In the very serene act of composing small lines to lend light and shadow, it was like hearing the artist think. All this thinking enters his spirituality.

 

While in Caylus - Freedom in his terms

 

At one point though, Bro. Dodo grew exhausted from drawing the dead human bodies. A week after staying in Japan, he traveled for the artist in residence program of DRAWinternational center in France. During this respite, the first week and a half were spent inking a meticulously shaded nautilus. The spiral shell drawing shows a very controlled technique. His lines and tonal gradation were exact. However, the encouragement from the artist's mentor to loosen up resulted in sketching of dead flies. His mentor liked these fly drawings because they were less rigid. Even though they seem unconstrained, the pre-production still consisted of detailed research on the anatomy of the insect. Nonetheless, the artist enjoyed the fact that he was illustrating lifeless flies in a small town far from work demands.

 

"Just as the bird sings or the butterfly soars, because it is his natural characteristic, so the artist works..." wrote Alma Gluck. 

 

This brother is an artist. Bro. Dodo, in realizing the two lives of art and administration still both belong to his person, is able to summon the necessary skills and creativity as he performs his duty as a religious and leader. This sense of freedom propels his ideas to execution, innovating, and thinking beyond. There is a great deal of courage in imagining futures and reconstruction of values in his context. His drawings are proof of this. He intentionally creates the feeling of flight or suspension or the absence of an environment to focus on single images – with all its intricacies yet a refusal of closure. Sincerely because the artist always wants to come home to art. (Con Cabrera)

JOJO SERRANO

Aquatico

Jojo Serrano's art-making begins with diligently creating collages by culling and cutting out images, which he then transfers onto a canvas using paintbrushes. As the artist describes the process as "faithful recreation," Serrano intimately studies and reproduces the original images by exploring the effects of photographic images. 

 

The density of his handwork dismembers the narratives embedded in overflowing media images and slows down the production, circulation, and consumption of visual information in contemporary life. It is a solitary practice, a quiet attempt to unravel the perception of the world coordinated by modern technologies.  

 

The ceaseless advancement of modern technology continues to deepen the discourse of dichotomy that disconnects our life from nature and legitimizes the abuse of power of humans over the natural environment. Encountering Serrano's new series of work composed of octopus, jellyfish, shells, creatures from the sea, I am reminded of the intricate networks of life existing at a depth of the ocean. Within the ecosystems, every life has an equal significance. Even death has a meaning.  

 

At Earth's deep point, humans are extremely vulnerable as we lose the ability to breathe while the millions of creatures maintain their life balance. The chain of life below water sustains itself as the complex circulation of the subtle signs of nature that are indiscernible to human eyes. The intelligence and powers of the sea/amphibian creatures betray our knowledge and expectations. Close attention to the life-and-death mechanism of each organism reveals the limit of our worldview constructed by the binary rhetoric. Merging individual elements, sinuous, undulating, flowing movements in Serrano's works navigate the viewer's sight fluidly across the canvas, inviting to imagine breathing synchronously with the sea creatures and to recognize oneself belonging deep into the natural environment.

 

Mayumi Hirano

MIGUEL LORENZO UY

Out-of-body simulations

Miguel Lorenzo Uy presents a new body of work in his fourth solo exhibition. Uy’s current interest stems from speculations on how technological advancements have proven to radically alter the meaning of our memory and identity. Consequently, political and economic affairs become entangled to technology’s development as well. With an imminent catastrophe, it becomes necessary to look from another perspective of how one lives within the system today. Political, historical, and even scientific beliefs have become more than ever malleable, politicized, and polarized. Out-of-body simulations acts as a lens; a metaphysical experience; a culmination of these assumptions.

Working within the current situation of physical isolation and existential dread, it is inevitable to witness different events on-screen. Humanity is in the midst of global crises: climate change, post-truth politics, and the coronavirus pandemic. These have resulted in a spring of corrections, reforms, and revolutions in different parts of the globe and different factions of life and society— with outcomes resulting in either sustained peace or increased violence. Some have been repressed, others successful, and a number has blown out of proportion. As many suffer the consequences these events entail, some benefit from all the chaos and oppression as well.

As society transitions into a probable dystopia, Uy presents a video sculpture— one iteration of this project. Astral Prison (2021) embodies a society that has consented to plunder and pillage, deception and tyranny. All that is left is a masqueraded life simulated as digital, posing as authentic and rendering everyone blind from reality. Imposed by the few people in power, the Astral Prison encompasses the physical, digital, and even the spiritual. It manifests itself as a prison without walls; its warden ruthless and manipulative, the shackles and chains invisible, and the sentence inherited generation after generation. It is our burden and our crime; the curse of being born, struggling and consuming to survive, that we are given a life sentence. It is something that cannot easily be perceived yet it is so evident; one that makes us believe that we are truly free.