Words by Amanda Juico Dela Cruz
More than half-way through 2021, most galleries have already opened their doors to the public—only a few visitors at a time—while maintaining their virtual exhibitions. It is a proof that art flourishes amidst the trying times and that galleries are embracing the new normal.
The five exhibitions featured below are only a few of the countless manifestations of artists’ states of consciousness despite the constant changes in the new leg of the pandemic—from Ben Albino’s socio-political commentaries, to Lee Salvador’s autobiographical pieces, to Mark Dawn Arcamo’s confrontation with technology, from Ian Jo Semira’s homage to the greatest thinker to Jellyfish Kisses’ agony on potential loves.
The walls of Eskinita Art Farm are dominated with the funereal grays of Ben Albino’s works. Its hue is a poetic contrast to the burning passion, the blue sky, and the stars and the sun found in the imageries of Lupang Hinirang, also the title of his solo exhibition. Albino traverses his socio-political sentiments through agitating puns and dreary expressions. The politics of editorial cartoon has edged the artist’s hands that he uses fables as a mockery to the morality running in the blood of contemporary time. Greed, for one, is the spine of the twelve works in the exhibition.
Lee Salvador has found again what was gone in his exhibition Lost Hurt Boys at Nuzen Art Gallery. At the foundation of each of his work are crucial experiences from his childhood. The familiar and nostalgic mementos—comics, basketball cards, Pogs, and even Teks—are defining elements of his collages. Choosing the form is an act to gather his life together again, while re-evaluating only what is essential. The juvenile imageries are an attempt to reclaim the youth he lost as a child, doing what adults should have been doing. The wide-eyed characters are a hopeful symbol for the time of great promise.
“We live within this reality we create, and we’re quite unaware of how we create the reality” provokes Mark Dawn Arcamo to confront how the Age of Information has affected—whether it has strengthened or has weakened—the Connections That We Crave, displayed at Blanc Gallery. The contrast between pastels and monochromes, and the disruptive lines emerging from calm spaces are Arcamo’s navigation of the divergence brought about by media consumption. With the algorithm exploiting the fear of missing out, eyes are glued to screens with no barrier to bombardment of information. Devices, indeed, are the new windows.
Polymath, from the Greek polumathēs, meaning “having learned much”. There is no need to introduce Leonardo da Vinci, the human archetype of the Renaissance man, whom Ian Jo Semira pays homage to in his first solo exhibition, The Polymoth, at R Gallery. The polymath’s High Renaissance paintings are visited by the contemporary artist’s moths. Replacing the man’s upper torso with a moth, the former’s L’uomo vitruviano is rendered by the latter as human’s nothingness in the beginning. Like a moth seeking for light amidst the vast darkness of the night, they shall eventually find their purposeful identity, finally filling in the essential nothingness of one’s existence.
The paintings, sculptures, and installations Jellyfish Kisses created for her exhibition at Vinyl on Vinyl Gallery are her sensitivity to the fickleness in the unfolding and the denouement of relationships, the same wistful ambivalence in Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s words in Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, which Jellyfish Kisses borrowed as her exhibition’s title. Black and white pieces are woven seamlessly to her famous pop aesthetics. Her personal narratives are sewn within the narratives of her works, reliving the jumpy and giddy journey of maybe’s, almost’s and what can be found at the end of the tunnel.