Jone Reaño Sibugan’s first solo show represents life and death through fungi.
Text by Maia San Diego; Photos courtesy of Underground.
The thought of mortality often brings up images of skulls and wilted plants among others. Mushrooms are one of the last things that come to mind but artist Jone Reaño Sibugan finds endless stories and meanings behind them. A millennial living in the city may oftentimes seem distracted but Sibugan finds time to reflect on concepts of life, death, and – surprisingly – fungi. It seems that the quiet mushroom may reveal more about life and death than we once thought.
Monochromatic depictions of mushrooms abound the walls of Underground Gallery. Upon entering the first solo exhibition of Jone Reaño Sibugan, Under a Dark Sky, one may be taken aback by the unusual choice of subject matter but a closer look would leave the viewer mesmerized and engrossed with the dynamic lines and forms, making each piece come alive. Jone Reaño Sibugan graduated in 2018 from the University of the Philippines Diliman College of Fine Arts with a degree in Painting. In relation to his undergraduate thesis, Sibugan, once again, explores the theme of life and death but through a different lens.
Sibugan has grown fond of mushrooms as subject matter upon learning about its different connotations. Understanding that mushrooms and other fungi are highly intelligent species, Sibugan believes they should be given more importance. Bridging the two kingdoms of animal and plant, Sibugan finds potential in using these in his works.
Aside from subject matter, another interesting thing to note in Sibugan’s first solo exhibition is his choice of medium – oil paint, wax, and soot. His use of wax started during his undergraduate thesis, where he practically manufactured his own black crayon to produce his work. With this, he uses the reduction technique to create his images. His discovery of soot as a medium sprouted during his undergraduate printmaking class wherein he found potential in the soot residue of one printmaking process. From this, he is drawn by the unpredictability of the process, wherein he collaborates with the elements of fire and air.
As a millennial, it is also interesting to note the artist’s interest in the theme of mortality. The artist believes that life after death and death after life are natural phenomena. Given that mushrooms thrive from dead organic matter, he sees them as the embodiment of the concept of life and death itself, which is a curious fact. How could something so mundane mirror the very essence of our existence?
He believes in the importance of young minds reflecting on their mortality, and that learning about the growth of mushrooms is a good place to start. Mushrooms grow in dark places yet they thrive. In this, Sibugan finds inspiration that no matter how dark your place may be, one can always bloom.
Amidst the noise and gloom of contemporary urban Manila, Sibugan is no typical millennial. His show reflects a positive take on the fragility of life and how darkness can be turned into light. In his monochromatic world of mushrooms, a call for silent reflection has sprouted about.
Jone Reaño Sibugan’s first solo exhibition, Under a Dark Sky, will run until September 14, 2019 at Underground Gallery.