by Amanda Juico Dela Cruz.
Conversations are conceived in works of art. They can be human conversations—from an artist to another, or an artist to the audience. They can be a discourse on the form, resulting to a kind of evolution that either challenges or reinforces existing theories. Other times, works of art demand to be read with or in a historical narrative to decipher a warning from the dead to the living. In the said context, works of art become a socio-political critique.
BenCab and Ronald Ventura, Double Vision (BenCab Museum)
The canvases are an encounter between two artists who were born in different generations—one in the early 40s, the other in the early 70s—and who have distinct artistic voices, but they share a common ground in their techniques and poetics. The depictions are a conversation about the past, the present, and what could be the future of the issues the humanity have been grappling on. The world the artists refract are historical narratives layered by the tension of today’s cataclysm. The collective triumphs and conditions depicted in these canvases are the aspirations that are yet to be realized.
Mark Laza, Saltá (Eskinita Art Farm)
There must be a dialogue on diaspora vis-à-vis poverty for between these two words are laborers nailed by the promise of prosperity. The artist initiates this dialogue through his canvases and panels depicting the Filipino narrative of leaving one’s origin for the greener pastures. Unlike the kind of life migrant laborers thought await them, here comes a life of desolation and hostility, even assimilation by those in power who are dreaming beyond of avarice. The human figures are stuck in a movement from one place to the next, a reality for most Filipinos endlessly seeking for a decent living condition.
Maralita, Jason Delgado, Lance Gomez, Kirk Tabanera, Telle De Leon, and Sarah Conanan, Duyan ng Magiting (1335Mabini)
What would the Brains of the Revolution say to this administration? To the citizens who brought them to power? To the activists and the advocates who are still fighting the fight this nation’s heroes started centuries ago? The young alumni of Linangan Art Residency revisit the pages of this nation’s history books—from the revolutionary era of Apolinario Mabini, to the dark ages of Macli-ing Dulag and Emman Lacaba, to the sparkling nightlife of the old white men along Mabini Street, and to the grueling years of the healthcare workers. Is the nation still in the cradle of the brave?
Pete Jimenez, Bed Capacity (Finale Art File)
“Hospitals reach full capacity,” read on headlines and heard on newscast for the past more than a year and a half. An old hospital bed with a hauntingly many leather gloves collected forming a lattice mattress trigger a surrealist vision of today’s circumstances. The work could be a commentary on the COVID-19 response, leaving the healthcare workers vulnerable and the people miserable. Or it could be a biographical work as the artist’s senior family member experienced (due to another illness) the corollary of the outbreak. Or it could be a totemic memorial for what has and is yet to happen.
Alex Aguilar, Painting the Roses Red (Pinto Art Museum)
Stumbling between being paintings and being sculptures, the canvases are shaped to play an illusion of disoriented realities, of disoriented spaces, perhaps an allusion to Alice in Wonderland, which is a namesake of a neurological disorder characterized by the distortion of spatio-temporal reality and of one’s own self. But the allusion is not a commentary, rather, it is an autobiographical show with the title suggesting that the artist is making and remaking his own world. His surrealism—tinted with wildly amusing colors, charged with deluding energy—is laminated with his own metaphors to be contemplated on as one gets lost.
Dennis “Sio” Montera, The Shape of Memory (Qube Gallery)
“The lines, markings, strokes, drips, stains, scratches, peels, and paint splatters are also imprints of the physical energy involved during the process,” the artist says. He abandoned the familiar imageries and narratives in mimetic art in favor of abstraction, which strips the work of art naked, exposing its very materiality. What is seen on the surface level tickle some distant memory that speaks on the level of the unconscious mind, a collective memory, so to speak. Guided by his unconscious mind in the movement, chance and accident in the very act of painting, a form is born on the canvas.