Icons of one’s childhood find their way into canvases in this exhibition, the characters brought to life by the make-believe world of cartoons and animations. The references can instantly be recognized by anyone who grew up with and got exposed to the cultural products of Disney and Hollywood—Goofy, Stitch, and Darth Vader, among others. These characters and the realm of their narratives contrast sharply with the picture evoked by the word sage, that of a person in the twilight years of life, often in seclusion contemplating on the profound realities of existence. A sage’s wisdom that comes with old age and experience lies on the opposite end of playfulness and youthful frivolity.
Such disjuncture can be bridged, however, if the featured subjects are taken as mementoes intended to revisit an old and experienced person’s childhood memories, triggering the recollection of days gone by. The manner in which the characters are rendered reflects this nostalgic gesture: the figures seem to melt and dissolve into formlessness, like vivid memories gradually fading out of one’s remembrance. But the signification of the liquefied forms does not stop here, as such intervention constructs multiple facets of meanings that relate to transitions in one’s life journey. They may also translate to loss of innocence or social awakening, illustrating how dreams and aspirations anchored in idealized, fictional plots and settings disintegrate eventually as one matures and grows out of the fixation with animations. On a more political level, the figures’ appearance as semi-digested can allude to the consumption of popular culture especially among the youth, how it conquers their lived realities and imagination. EJ Cabangon masterfully incorporates these reflections into familiar images through his hyperrealistic rendering that captures three-dimensionality and the plasticity of molten material despite using a limited palette.