Art Fair Philippines 2014 (An Overdue)

I used to work in an art gallery and even if I shifted career two years ago, I would still like to believe I am still connected to the art world.

Back then, I used to be critical of art fairs. No, I have not yet experienced an A-List/VIP art fair, except for the Hong Kong Art Fair in 2011 which was some sort of educational trip for me. We visited not only to spot international artists but also look at how international galleries brand, give identity, and market their art. Back then, comparing their and our Art Fair was plain unjust. It would be purely a conflict of interest. This time however, I am to shut my chubby face and list down personal favorites from the Art Fair:

It might be that branch which extended outside the confines of of the frame of the artwork itself which initially reminded me of Brancusi’s Flight. However, staring at it for a little more time made me drawn to its simple and minimalist aesthetic, which implied more of a feeling or a setting (a place) rather than an outright portrayal. This appealed more on the mind, producing a memory or a movie still of a scorching hot desert.

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New Mexico by Christina Quisumbing Ramilo

I have developed a penchant for Anting-Anting and other related paraphernalia ever since I worked on my thesis on Solar Drawing. It showed the beliefs and wisdom of the olden days. In Noell El Farol’s work however, the Anting Antings were hung in a clothes hanger as something that could be worn and disposed right after use. It mocked  the convenience and availability of today’s things, be it tangible or not.

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Disposable Anting Anting by Noell El Farol

Being a book lover, this installation from Ringo Bunoan made me go “Aww, look at this.” And yes, by looking at this and reading the notes on the wall made me agree on the artist’s idea and commentary on life and death.

This is a floor to ceiling installation of books set up next to a range of framed “the end” pages. (See image below)

It’s a philosophical take on how the end is detached from the narrative itself, or simply, how death is separate from life lived.

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No Endings by Ringo Bunoan

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Endings by Ringo Bunoan

Norberto Roldan’s works have always piqued my interest. Not only because they looked like altars or retablos, but also because it seems to tell very personal stories.

I saw him a few times before working in his space at the Green Papaya arts project. I saw old photos,  perfume bottles, cans, mirrors, crowns, handkerchiefs, etc. Each had (or lacked) a story as they were. But when put together to form an image, suddenly, they meant so much more. I always fall in admiration at how he stripped every single detail off its essence in order for it to obtain a new one in accordance to all other elements present in the image. It feels like peeking and watching a moment in somebody’s life unfold in my eyes.

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100 Altars for Roberto Chabet by Norberto Roldan

This detail from the artwork pictured above reminded me of days when Kuya Kevin and I would visit Peewee (Norberto Roldan) in his space to chat about art, even gossip sometimes. Kuya Kevin would bring him works for consultancy, or papers, or letters. One time, he brought him moon cake tin cans he could use for his works. This tin cans do not mean anything to anyone, not even to Kuya Kevin who gave it to him. He may or may have not used it for his work. It may even be this detail, who knows.

I guess what I am trying to say is that, I may have seen an actual tin can in his work, but it resonated a moment of the past so much different from it being a mere tin can. Suddenly, things are seen more than they are.

You may have experienced the same if this reminded you of Wong Kar Wai.

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Detail of 100 Altars for Roberto Chabet by Norberto Roldan

This one caught my fancy for personal reasons. I love hand written and mailed letters.

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Iconic by Jia Estrella

I liked Alwin Reamillo for his overwhelming yet interesting pastiche of materials and imagery. His works are random found objects stitched together in such disarray, that seeks and struggles to uncover history and identity. Yes, it may seem chaotic and disorderly, but it is actually a memory, a story told.

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Unnatural History, ang totoong alamat ng pilipinas a pensar en la immortalidad del canajero by Alwin Reamillo

Notice that he used crab shells for these portraits.

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Detail from Unnatural History, ang totoong alamat ng pilipinas a pensar en la immortalidad del canajero by Alwin Reamillo

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Detail from Unnatural History, ang totoong alamat ng pilipinas a pensar en la immortalidad del canajero by Alwin Reamillo

This Nick Veasey initially reminded me of Nona Garcia’s entry to the Phillip Morris Art Awards. This one however, piqued my interest in structure and production.

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Accordion by Nick Veasey

Self-portraits has always appealed to me. It seems confrontational and conversational. It gives further depth and involvement.

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Self-Portrait for My Grandmother, the Photographer by Wawi Navarroza

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The Painter’s Garden by Wawi Navarroza

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Viva La Frida by Wawi Navarroza

I have known Victor Balanon for his smooth transition from making drawings to creating videos out of them. More admiration goes out for his carefully conceptualized and excellently executed videos. This one at the art fair is no exception of his remarkable works.

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Still from Orpheus Reversed by Victor Balanon

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Still from Orpheus Reversed by Victor Balanon

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Zambales 2010

There hasn’t been so many interesting stories in my life lately. Well, actually there are, but I am yet to disclose until the right time comes.

I haven’t been writing for a time, too. I got pending writing/blog ideas but never really had the time, even for drafts. Work has got me preoccupied with a lot of things and I assume that will go on for the next few months. This taxing and tedious time at work just makes me want to run away to an unknown place.

I was having some spring cleaning last weekend and found photos of travels long ago. I am sharing this trip to Zambales circa 2010 as it reminds me of the first adult out of town trip I had with my sister and all other memories and emotions in between. This was back when working was such lovely labor.

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Casa San Miguel, an art sanctuary in San Antonio, Zambales.

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We were there just in time for the Pundaquit festival. These kids were practicing for their performances.

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They made beautiful music.

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Works by Leeroy New were scattered all over the place. My sister thought they’re creepy.

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Found these tiles too. I love how they reflect music and art and madness and passion.

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Speaking with/interviewing the artist, Brendale Tadeo. Yes, we traveled far and wide for this interview.

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The Gallery inside Casa San Miguel.

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Brendale Tadeo’s Machinas on exhibit. This was later transferred and exhibited at NOVA Gallery.

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Back in my gallery days, I was always interested about how the works were lighted. This explains this photo.

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Studying and looking at Brendale’s work.

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And asking him some more questions.

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We spent the afternoon at the beach. Baybay, as locals would call it. Breathtaking sunset.

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Brendale again, he asked us to call him Tadz instead.

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My sister, enjoying the water but trying not to get wet

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But ended up getting soaking wet anyway (HAHAHA!)

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And then, there were kids. Perky and happy, playing in the sand and posing for the camera.

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The next day, we searched into their backroom where old paintings and sculptures were stored. Here are works from their weekend children’s workshop.

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Plet Bolipata’s then work in progress. I believe she filled this animals with tiles and had them displayed in BGC years after.

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Good old days, Zambales.

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Memories of Blood and Strawberries

Yesterday, I posted a throwback Thursday photo on my Instagram. It featured an artwork from one of the first art exhibitions I worked for. Nostalgia struck through me the moment I was editing and uploading the photo.

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The Menstruation of the Goddess or the Apotheosis of the Strawberries. Sandra Palomar. Coloratura Exhibit. mospace. 2009

Coloratura was the second show I officially worked for. The first one was Gaston Damag’s Exploding Idols at Pablo Fort, but it wasn’t as full on as this one. For Coloratura, I read books and journals, including texts in French. For this exhibit, I learned photoshop, laid-out manuscripts, sourced for volcanic rock and paper stock, documented a performance, and written and submitted press release personally.

Yes, it was the first time I wrote press releases. Back then I had little confidence for my writing. I was barely out of college and it was so much pressure knowing my words will come out in the Lifestyle pages of broadsheets and magazines. I made two drafts, so the editors could choose which to use. I initially submitted the copies to our Project Manager, Sandra, who was also one of the artists, just for her to review and judge my writing before the rest of the world does. I remember her telling me “This would do”. It came out the papers several days later. We were having a meeting in our office then about last minute preparations for the exhibit when she told everyone that my Press Release was beautifully written. It all felt glorious that moment, considering it came from a Paris-based artist whose aesthetics and literature were so refined. I was more than flattered. Eventually, she assigned me as head of exhibitions/events planning and PR for the gallery.

It was really a tough project. That was but one portion of the entire learning experience. It was not just writing. Actually, there were more physical activities involved, like transporting the paintings, hanging them, using those weird rulers, adjusting lights and wall texts. I was a fresh graduate then, and this I thought was some surprising kind of training. I loved it though. Everyone was not afraid of committing mistakes, if they did, they would turn it out into something they can work on. That’s one of the things I actually love about artists. They can always think of a creative way of turning things around. They make the process lean more to fun and learning.

It was all tedious and messy work, but I felt the happy kind of tired at the end of each day I was working for that exhibition. The entire experience was happy and fulfilling.

I rarely get that kind of feeling these days. So much feelings for a throwback Thursday.

Root of Romanticism

Dear Love, we’re in a poetry book I’ve read innumerable yesterdays ago

This is an image taken by Jenno, my latest addition to my “Favorite People” list, during our random trip to Intramuros one bipolar-weathered afternoon.

I would be lying if I say this is not of utter beauty, sans the bias that it’s my boyfriend and I in the portrait. I did not actually think our picture would turn out this way since we never planned of taking nice photos anyway. We just wanted a trip to the National Museum, an Intramuros walking tour, and an illegal tag along of Carlos Celdran’s tour.

I would say this image is too beautiful for me to judge aka apply art/photography criticism to. But as far as resonance and wonder is concerned, I would give a million words for a praise.

I found this photo rather dear to me. It reminded me of photographs found in Rolando Carbonell’s Beyond Forgetting. It’s one of the earliest poetry books I’ve read. My grandfather gave it to me in grade school because of my penchant with novels and poetry as early as then. It was about love – found and lost. It was about waiting – its toils and pains and triumph. It was about our souls – torn, broken, crashed. It was about emotions – kept and subdued, professed and demonstrated. The images spoke the same. They breathed every printed word. They pierced thoughts, induced thinking, leading to reverie. Even an innocent 10-year old’s heart was tugged. I might even consider this one of the foundations of my tendency to romanticize. (Mark this entry as Exhibit A)

Later on I found out, the author was my grandfather’s high school friend. It felt like I actually met him.

The book is still with me as to the moment I write. I browsed through the pages after seeing image above. The book may have aged, leaves brown and crisp. But its words are still intact, its images radiated as before.

 

Secrets, Dreams, and What If’s

When I thought I have cut ties with art, here comes an artist friend asking me to write for his show. And being the yes girl that I am, I agreed. Well, I do think it’s a good exercise to write about art once in a while. I can’t just put four college years aside, especially when I’m planning to make a comeback after n years.

It actually feels great that I can still write about art, and even articulate artists’ ideas after leaving a job involving such. Oh art, you really are my mistress! I can’t say no to your tease every freaking time.

Here goes the article:

Secrets, Dreams, and What If’s is a three-man show revolving around the imagination and the unconscious brought about by odd juxtapositions and dis/orders in everyday life. The artists attempt to illustrate a child’s vision hence the playful, bright, comical, cartoonish appearances. These images though do not render mere fun at all, but a rather light satire of society. 

Genepaul Martin leads us to a hodgepodge of characters from our childhood – Ultraman and Alice (in Wonderland). It may look sweet, resembling Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory – colorful candies, donuts, gummies and other melted sweets. The characters, however, have a sad look upon their faces – Ultraman without his horn, cut, decapitated, devastated, Alice sitting on donuts, carrying a teacup yet with no one to share some afternoon tea. 

Tawnie Tantay’s characters are reminiscent of dolls – bright eyes, flushed cheeks, tinted lips, pretty dresses. Just the way society wants its women to be. At an early age, little girls are aligned towards the epitome of a desirable female. The artist begs to look at the dolls’ faces, but viewers still tend to take more pleasure in staring at the body and its surroundings, hauling a more judgmental look at women, formulating a sexual connotation rather than an innocent interpretation.

JJ Zamoranos routed viewers to a seemingly unfamiliar dimension, or maybe actually a familiar one. He displays a colorful yet uncanny group of characters in between lego blocks, masks, toys, and dark castles representing perhaps how figures from television register in a child’s mind – a chaotic combination of childhood’s innocence, smothered with adulthood’s harsh realities.

Secrets, Dreams, and What If’s is a reaffirmation of Roland Barthes’ Toys (in Mythologies). This reflects, reiterates, and reinstates how society purposely yet unknowingly molds children into the harsh world of adulthood. This presents us once again what society has initially presented us in childhood – left unspoken and unquestioned.

After this trip back to childhood, how then are you going to see things?

*Secrets, Dreams, and What If’s is opening at the Secret Fresh Art Gallery at Ronac Center, August 19, 2012 at 6PM.

Woes on Art Writing

When people ask me: “Do you write about art?”

I reply in a flash: “I used to. I used to write criticisms based on history and theory in college.”

Then I realize how pathetic my answer is. I can actually reply with a simple yes or no, but why should I insist on such explanation.

I have been trained to write academically about art. I have been taught to write in layers and degree of criticism. I have been reminded every now and then of describing without using the words: beautiful and ugly, good and bad, but to incorporate aesthetics and words that could vividly depict an image in one’s imagination. I have been instructed to at least provide a frame when writing, perhaps use Barthes, Said, Karp, Berger in my articles and simplify them and make them speak to common people. I miss conversing that way. I miss being all theoretical yet simplistic when I write.

I remember initiating a writing project for myself once since an art magazine editor wanted me to write for her. I browsed through the publication and found feature articles about art. I thought it was going to be an easy task. But hell, it wasn’t. I started with the formalistic approach, but as I moved on, I could not help but criticize and point out what I found interesting and problematic which leaned more towards the theoretical side. Think: History, Anthropology, Cultural Studies. I always get trapped in the academic/theoretical way of writing/appreciating art. I feared my article would sound intimidating that only people involved in the art world might appreciate or at least read it. Thus, I never finished it and considered feature art writing not my strength at all.

Now I can only congratulate those writers who can write features for art. I never imagined myself saying this, but yes, somehow, I do wish I could write like you people.

Employment Oversharing

February’s supposed to be my writing project month. I have been writing randomly in mush and fury. I still have unfinished posts in my drafts folder and a larger set in my idea pad. It’s kind of frustrating how I haven’t been writing religiously this month, or maybe, that’s just how it seems to me.

I have been preoccupied with work. Errr, I lied, job applications really.

My love-hate relationship with my current job has been existing for more than a year now. And no, it isn’t just my hormones and availability of food in the vicinity (although I must say I miss Country Style badly), it’s more of I’ve gone weary of the things I do. There’s no longer a lovely feeling when the bed sucks me in at the end of the day. I am not happy with what I am doing anymore. I curate because it’s just part of the work. I write my PR’s like they’re just PR’s. I no longer marvel at art’s beauty and essence since I am writing for the sole purpose of having them seen and sold. I have been molded into looking at art in a different light and I guess I am just afraid that I will eventually see it as a commodity.

Guess I have just decided to veer away from that in the mean time. I have been busy with exams and interviews the past week for a high-end fashion entity in the country. Fashion ranks a few notches below art. Growing up in a society with evident mall culture, I have primarily known that fashion and clothing is an industry bound to manufacture goods for profit. And it’s more legitimate, I think, compared to art selling. Oh well, there goes my conservative art background. Yes, Art Studies friends, I do know you understand what I am talking about.

But Arts, I am not leaving you, artist friends can always count on me when they need someone to write for them. I can still do collections management. I will still visit you every now and then. I guess we’d be better off this way for now. I can write about you with no restrictions, no inhibitions. Doesn’t that sound exciting?

So there I went explaining my career shift. I mean really, I elaborated this on the internet? HAHAHA

And yes, I will keep up with my unfinished posts soon. 🙂

Mark This as Exhibit A for Randomness

Last time I blogged was Tuesday, fuming still in anger like alcohol in my head during a real bad hangover. I was itching to write the next days but I decided not to as I am not entirely over Monday things yet. That was just me and my incapacity to move on from recent issues.

But since it’s Friday, I just need to kick my own ass and think happy thoughts for the weekend. I brought Polly Horvath‘s Everything on a Waffle to work. Not that I am reading it over again, I’m brushing through my highlighted text to feel Primrose Squarp’s hopefulness and positive outlook. I am also lending my beloved book to Mr. Snooze since he needs company during weekdays the next month as he’s taking the night shift again (Boo!). I bet he’ll appreciate weird recipes found every after chapter and will extremely drool for breakfast when he logs out at four in the morning.

Also, I opted to ponder on random things. My book shelf will kill me for this, but I am lusting over a copy of Roland Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse. Roland Barthes is one of my first loves in Art Studies. Toys being my primary read, developed further affection upon devouring the signs and symbols chapter from Mythologies, and went stronger as my Related Literature for thesis. Yes, art geekery is such a romantic affair. If Roland Barthes were still alive, I’d date him! We’d have conversations over wine and cheese. I will ask him about signs and symbols and when is over analyzing becomes over. (I am guilty as charged by my former professor LOL I’ve outgrown it now, methinks.) And I’ll let him sign my copies in a CD as they are in PDF file and we’ll post a photo of us two via mobile upload. Barthes and I will be cool like that. 😉

Guess I have been a little too random at that, my get-happy thoughts have led to to some wonderland.

On another note, the ~love~ month plus certain circumstances are dragging me to execute  projects to keep me happy. My fresh ideas are relevant with this month. Well, they have to be. Since I am not good in dating (LOL), I’ll have to plan a writing project which goes like “Daydreaming About Dream Dates”. I will have to think of a cute way of doing this one. I might also go for a date-themed/inspired kind of thing as creative project for the annoyingly happy man I’ve been dating for a year now (and will be dating until god knows when time teehee).

Let’s just see where all of these will take me. Happy Weekend! 🙂

*I’m more or less happy upon ending this entry. HAHAHA

Yes. Man, This is You

Art reflects society as a mirror projects a face. Art is a prism that breaks the image and makes visible the other elements and layers beneath it. Art articulates what the mind and the senses perceive upon recognition of the surface, understands the complexities beyond it, and even formulates and derives pictures from the imagination. This is the main theme of the current hanging from the Carlos O. Cojuangco Collection, surFACES.

surFACES is a set of works which bring about a dialogue between man and representations of himself. It includes small to large scale paintings which basically exhibit the human face rendered in different and interesting ways.

Aesthetically, Roland Barthes defined the face as the thematic harmony of the curve of nostrils and arch of eyebrows and other regions of the face. Glitches and lapses in such may make an undesirable appearance, but perhaps, these imperfections greatly suggest the same imperfect existence of man. Variations of portrayals results to more discussion-laden interpretations. The paintings serve as the mirror, not only of man’s physical appearance, but also of his society and his personally exclusive thoughts as well.

Negative Light, Olan Ventura, Oil on canvas, 122 x 91 cm, 2009

Included in the show is Negative Light II. In this work, Olan Ventura breaks away from the conventional portrayal of the human face. He paints a woman in a negative mode as in an X-ray image rather than in a flesh tone. This suggests deviance in rendering a subject and discusses the vices and deviance in society. His subject is a cigarette-smoking woman working in a nightclub. Such deviants are usually judged by society’s stereotypes, Ventura however, attempts to debunk these notions and makes them seen in different ways. He reverses the color of the image such that the subject too, is viewed from a different perspective.

Balloon, Joseph Lofranco, Acrylic on canvas, 180 x 175 cm, 2009

Joseph Lofranco’s Balloon may seem to be a random splash of color playing along with the viewer’s vision, but it is actually a work in which colors are intentionally layered together to form an abstract image. It would be quite a task to search for the seven faces on the canvas, but knowing that these seven faces are those of significant people who have affected lives of people around the world through their music, philosophy, and politics might give a clue on who’s who to look for. This also exhibits the fragility of man’s belief as he succumbs to these wisdom and pseudo-wisdom.

Like a Virgin, Raymond Legaspi, Oil on canvas, 76 x 91 cm, 2009

Raymond Legaspi’s Like a Virgin may foster such a cheerful and buoyant façade but it does embed meaningful messages. His work is imbued with critical and sensible iconographies. He used the santo (most probably that of the Virgin Mary’s)a Filipino icon of worship, to be the body of the pop icon, Madonna. Viewers may find this either funny (as seen in the light of pop culture and humor) or offensive (so far as religious icons are concerned) but this appropriation articulates serious directives regarding people’s fanaticism, idolatry, and veneration of artists to the extent of worshipping them.

The Believer, Redd Nacpil, Oil on canvas, 122 x 91 cm, 2009

Redd Nacpil exemplifies his graphic tendencies as he portrays a cool, hip, and young imagery of the life of the youth living in the city through geometric lines and burst of color. However, the busy lines denoting the face blurs the subject’s identity and confuses him as to what direction to take. This articulates the problems faced by the youth in our existing society. It denotes how they are having a hard time adapting to the changes brought about by culture.

surFACES is man’s interaction with something denotative of himself – including the obvious and obscure. This is a positioning where man comes face to face with another man in a different structure yet evokes the same character and quintessence as him. This is a confrontation between man, his truths, his denials, and the continuous battle that exists in between the repelling poles within him.

surFACES is an avenue for people to stare at themselves, not in front of a mirror, but affront artworks which bespeak of themselves. For there is no other that can articulate better truths but something that has been clearly laid in front of us.

PS. This is supposed to be my curatorial note for our gallery hanging. Originally without the individual analysis, but decided to put them up anyway just to foster a bloggish character to the article anyway. Hope the visuals are apt for the writing. Also, a less serious title. Photo credits to my officemate, Ali.

If interested in seeing the works, teaser here and RSVP here. 🙂

The Up in The Low

Hello from the U.N.

I’m keeping my hopes up for this project with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The past few weeks were the low(est)lights of my entire employment record for this and that reasons I’d rather not enumerate. But receiving such profound and relevant proposal made my heart skip a beat and forget about the rantology part of my work. Again, I hope this project pushes through. Will be keeping my fingers crossed.

Uhm, wait. Where’s my boss again?