Up and coming talent from different artists is showcased in these galleries. The new Blanc gallery brings together the past galleries that were located at different points in the Metro, now all conveniently found in one place.
A family wearing face masks takes a selfie in the middle of Beijing while the thick smog behind them covers what would have been a beautiful city landscape; air pollution in China has been linked to 366,000 fatalities in 2013 alone. The other side of the world finds scientists fearing the extinction of polar bears due to the fast-paced melting of glaciers in the Arctic Ocean. Here in the Philippines, the dry season is taking longer than usual while typhoons are becoming more prevalent; back in 2013, Typhoon Haiyan claimed over six thousand lives.
There’s a crisis we always hear about but fail to truly understand. Artist Jonas Eslao depicts the pieces of evidence from the atrocities of climate change in his latest show and takes us to an inconvenient conversation that strives to discuss rather than preach. In the practice of painting these images, Eslao hopes to understand the crisis more through a “paper effect” wherein the process of scribbling down an idea turns something abstract into a more comprehensive concrete form; in each stroke, the artist reflects upon the basis of these images where the terrifying consequences of the environmental occurrences made by humans have become alarming.
Effects of offshore drilling is captured in “Shell” where a tarnished clam-like figure sits at the center of the canvas. “The Boat is Sinking” and “Diminishing Fortress” reveal the melting of the glaciers in the Arctic Ocean. “Bovine Intervention” is a playful depiction of the exploitation of the cattle industry in the overbreeding of cows that in return breathe out methane contributing to global warming. In “Fully Drenched” a seagull attempts to fly in the air but is stuck in an oil spill. Deadly smoke coming from factories is seen in “Heavy Air” while “Local Refugee” portrays an orangutan who has nowhere to go after his home, a jungle in Indonesia, has been cleared out to make way for palm oil production. In the middle of it all is “Everybody wants to be part of it; nobody wants to get their hands dirty” — an installation of cemented gloves piled on top of each other in a circle.
Meanwhile is the result of an artist in pursuit of his artistic growth through how he responds to issues that terrify him. After more than a decade in the practice, Eslao takes a moment to pause and understand the bigger picture. In his previous shows such as Apex Predator (2015) and Beyond (2016), a level of confidence has presented itself into the direction he has come to realize: how humans have threatened other species.
In Meanwhile, Eslao decides to delve into an unfamiliar terrain of attempting to understand the relationship of everything and everyone, including himself, in the contribution of destruction. This is perhaps mostly encapsulated in his installation work “Everybody wants to be part of it; nobody wants to get their hands dirty” where Eslao features gloves molded in cement – a statement of our attitude towards this crisis: yes, we know it exists; and no, we are not part of it. The denial of our involvement relies in an unfortunate fulcrum: that we are unaware and ignorant of how our lifestyle and the way we exist has been hurting the planet and its inhabitants including ourselves; that our carbon footprint alone may not sink Kiribati but it’s a step to shove it down underwater without us realizing. Meanwhile, the world falls into obliteration while we’re warming up to confront the truth.
Gwen Bautista and Charms Tianzon
From Fabrication to Lamination: Perceiving the the truth of reality in myth
If we create reality by way of perception, what is it that we perceive and who is the one perceiving the perceived? What is the distance between what is perceived and the eye that perceives the perception? What is this same space that holds them together? If you see them as one and the same, what is this process of mediation and boundary?
Francis Bejar tackles these necessary and quintessential questions in his collected works Creatures from the Ackk 2: The Crisologo Chronicles. As a continuation of a project that sprung from making sense of nonsense verbiage, acknowledging pattern and therefore the need for mythological creation or what he calls “fabricated truth”, Bejar now reverses the inquiry and plays with “laminated truth.” In the concept of fabrication that Bejar illustrated in Creatures from the Ackk back in 2013, he made several sculptures and installations that mythologized the self (individual) and nation (the collective) through found objects. By assembling things and making space for their visibility, he weaved a symbolic imagery, an emblematic narrative that passed through the many dimensions of the mind. For Bejar, fabricated truth is within the surface of our consciousness, so even if things are never exactly real as they are in reality, fabricated truth is strengthened by the procedures of belief and could eventually be taken as absolute truth.
In this show, Bejar cracks open these said procedures to unlock the solidified system of knowing. Here, we see him go against the absolute. Instead of reinforcing a fabricated truth to be perceived as reality, we see him now dismantling his own sense of reality as we witness him undo and repeal old mythical narratives he helped built: national symbolism.
In Creatures from the Ackk 2: The Crisologo Chronicles, Bejar does not only laminate or put into layers of systems, purposefully influencing, one single fabricated truth by way of object-making. The product of his creative process is not the sole core of interpreting truth, but also the very process with which these truths are bonded and examined. Bringing into light a new kind of visibility, still with the use of found objects and installation, Bejar works with objects that already have existing histories and obtained contexts – these objects have their own encoded myths; but in manipulating these objects, he also manipulates their existing narratives in creation of a new. In this sense, laminated truth is exercised from a concept to a way of making-real. And it is in this exercise, this creation of a new, that Bejar continues his exploration of the individual and collective realms of symbols, traversing the layers of a reversal process from myth to reality, for a more advanced perception of reality from myth. Bejar laminates the fabrication that was processed from the real, to further undress, unclothe and uncloak the real reality that it is and not is.
Quezon City, 2017
Fusion of Horizons (Horizontverschmelzung)
“A person who has no horizon is a man who does not see far enough and hence overvalues what is nearest to him.” – Hans Georg Gadamer
Marc Arcamo offers us an exuberant yet unpredictable variance of subdued greys while employing repetitive forms of human figures. His elements seem to be floating in horizontal flatness however multidimensional it may seem to appear. His recent paintings inquire about themes of impermanence, mainstream culture and urbanism. With the use of geometric prototypes, his paintings have resulted in a fusion of abstractions. Arcamo has intuitively created these pieces with the intent of deviating to a certain degree, dissonance of memory — images culled from his insights about existence. His works are suggestive of pared-down treatment of elements and design that seems to be in flux.
His painting series, entitled “Mental Projection” is a combination of the realistic style with decisive exertions of many known genres of abstractions. His incorporation of vintage movie stills, collages and appropriation, hark back to his past experience as an employed artist — he was instructed to work out on existing designs and corporate logos in order to satisfy the whim of his clients. These ruminations about his early struggles as hired artist had a profound and long-lasting effect on his art making.
Based on Arcamo’s assertion, his pieces invite viewers to a world where the visual embodiment of what we perceived of the particular object, is an observation of a person against another person’s — no matter how they see the same horizon. It is likely a counterfeit of familiarization of everyday entities (in our perception of what our expectations of the reality are and what is beyond). Often time, we negate that very same idea of knowledge and disregard of everyday symbolisms that become a redundant cryptogram.
Marc Arcamo’s compartmentalized, maze of dissimilar elegant patterns may sanction us of his personal musing, but quietly imply us not to overlook the multidimensional meaning and objectification of his works. His paintings oftentimes can be interpreted as an amalgamation of geometric manipulations which offer a whole new array of perceptions. Indeed, it is the “vanishing point” as a metaphor of how we look into daily signs indifferently and alternately.