Text and images by James Tana
The numerous gallery openings during the first quarter of the year could be a good sign that art (and perhaps the art market) continues to thrive in a time of uncertainty.
The galleries, considered as one of the support systems of the art world, play a crucial role not only in providing a physical site for exhibitions but also in rebuilding lost connections among the artists and the art community due to the pandemic.
In the end, all the small risks we take—the gradual re-opening of art spaces and the resume of walk-in visits to the galleries—contribute to a greater purpose which is to regain a sense of normalcy in our own individual ways.
The following exhibitions, in one way or another, are indicative that art remains to be relevant in conveying certain truths and in expanding one’s worldview despite the unprecedented disruptions.
In the group show “The Shelf Life of Being”, MONO8 Gallery gathers works from various artists, which reveal the current state of their production and the transformation of their artistic practice and sensibilities. The exhibition includes Ian Carlo Jaucian’s art installation comprising of a slightly askew ledge (containing abbreviated symbols from the periodic table) and objects which appear to be suspended in the air and in disarray. The hand of the clock is mechanically manipulated to either move faster than its usual speed or move backwards as if transcending and going against the course of time.
“Proofs and Mysteries” solo exhibition is part of Ringo Bunoan’s continued dialogue with artist-curator and her mentor Roberto Chabet. The trilogy of works intends to personally archive Chabet’s unrealized artistic pursuits and it also responds to “Chabet’s specific iconography of shelter and place, birth, and death,” according to the exhibition text.
“Proofs and Mysteries” is exhibited at Artinformal Gallery along with Mars Bugaoan’s “Unit 3103” and Atsuko Yamagata’s “Attachment | Distance.”
Paintings that are humorous but at the same time, hopeful in theme take center stage at the Finale Art File. Clairelynn Uy’s “Twisting My Melon” and Joey de Leon’s “In the House (Art… Work from Home)” are two uniquely different but complementing solo shows that articulate the experiences of the artists during the lockdown period.
Underground Art Gallery presents Efren Madlangsakay’s “Suppose I Have the Key to Your Chains” and Miguel Lorenzo Uy’s “I am that I am”. Uy explores in his video works the union of “God, man, and technology” which he alludes to the narrative of God as the ultimate Creator of all things. On the other hand, Madlangsakay, in a series of assemblage, proposes the essence of keys as central to our lives and valuable possessions that hold power and status.
Pauline Reynolds, in “What We Are”, a two-man show with August Lyle Espino, conveys a strong visual language and attempts to make sense of her inner self through her mixed media works: a combination of discarded and mundane objects such as blocks of wood, pieces of rocks, and torn pages from books and comic strips.
“What We Are” is exhibited at Vinyl on Vinyl Gallery along with Alexander Lim’s “Hopes and Dreams in Open Fields”, A.lien’s “Trashtalk”, and the group show “Fiat Lux.”
In Mo’s Space latest exhibition, Poklong Anading invites the viewers to re-evaluate our relationship with nature and society’s notion of going back to nature, ironically, as a consequence of going against it. The exhibition “colorless green ideas sleep furiously” speculates on such premise through the amalgamation of the natural and synthetic in Anading’s works— in this case, plants, soils, plastic containers, and cement.
“Each time I looked around, the walls moved in a little tighter” touches on familiar feelings of suffocation and restlessness brought about by restricted movements and containment of people within a space for a very long time. Artist Luis Antonio Santos, in a series of digital prints on plexi glass, depicts a single set of dilapidated Venetian blinds that is obsolete of its function.
“Each time I looked around, the walls moved in a little tighter” is exhibited at The Drawing Room along with Soler Santos’ “This Remains Here.”
Participating artists in Provenance Art Gallery’s “Two Sides to Every Story IV” examine varying ideas, perspectives, and contexts in the form of diptych works that are mostly paintings of two parts. The exhibition features AR Manalo’s “We used to be kings and queens”, a piece made from old books which the artist collated to use as the canvas for his painting.