Words by Amanda Juico Dela Cruz. Photos courtesy of the galleries.
Artists meditate on how humans engage with the world and how participation affects the social, political, cultural, and possibly historical terrain of the world being navigated. Rather than a prescriptive, black-and-white, and/or visual stance, the audience is given reflective creations, one that shows the different shades of grey with a lot of what if’s to sit with and invite over a cup of tea. Artists render their own continuity, but always leaves a room for the audience to participate in honing the direction of “moving forward.”
Brighter Than Many Other See, Issay Rodriguez (Silverlens Gallery)
Working with scientist Fernando Aurigue of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, Issay Rodriguez learns methods in breeding plants and in inducing mutations in its DNA. Beyond the visual rendition of the scientific interference in the process of plant breeding, the artist’s images are intimate narratives of these life forms, suggesting a meditation on human intervention. These narratives are of domestication and cultivation of plants for ornamental use, inevitably revealing a meaning out of such human desire. In the process of this shared participation, the works become a life’s pilgrimage, understanding life through life itself and seeking ways to succor it.
Wonderland, Atsuko Yamagata (Underground Gallery)
Built on Atsuko Yamagata’s deep curiosities and eagerness to understand life, she uses cells and microorganisms as a metaphor for life’s continuity all with resignation to reality’s certainties and boundaries. In her creative process, she allows control and spontaneity—the flow of color shapes the fragments, while air and water seeps in affecting the composition, but her selection of colors define its representation. The blotches in “Memories of Touching” are the warmth from someone else’s touch, while “Aggregation” is a gathering of cells and that essentially the touching of each other’s lives. Nostalgia, and hope that life shall go on.
Proximity, Anton del Castillo (1335 Mabini)
Gas masks. A man in black. A woman in little black dress. Gold leaf. Opulent frames. Anton del Castillo has been working on this dystopian aesthetic for the past nine years. What have his figures been exploring then? A ritzy but equally flimsy world. His works have been a critique of contemporary life with gas masks allowing the figures to survive in a toxic world. But the pandemic may have changed the discourse of these protective masks. del Castillo’s prophetic images allow the visibility of distance in the context of the different relationships one maintains, including family, lover, and oneself.
Spring Cleaning, Steph Alvarez (White Walls Gallery)
Petals in drawer boxes, while some are organized into grids. Steph Alvarez shows how compartmentalization clears her mind by reorganizing her thoughts and emotions. In psychology, it is putting things just exactly where they belong as to not affect one’s life for the time being. It can be an impermanent relief for some, but it can be an absolute escape. Alvarez navigates different ways of creating portraits. Drawing from her Marian upbringing, her watercolor petals are inspired by the mystical rose petals in Marian apparitions. In some of them, she portrays herself, particularly the eyes which vulnerably reveals one’s soul.
Searching for nothing in the elusive subconscious, 0270501 (Modeka Art Gallery)
Ephemerality. Autonomy. And immateriality. 0270501’s works are a post-isolation retrospective exploration of the works created from the dawn of the pandemic up to the changing government- imposed lockdowns. Moved by abstract expressionism and gutai, 0270501 creates anti-figurative works that let the unconscious to reveal itself. Aptly, the humanity is facing a form of world order collapse, triggering a strong sense of uncertainty. The different forms of socio-political wars, even existential ones, demand engagement with the world of ideas, leaving a space for the audience to make meaning out of their own experience and exploration in reference to their world of forms.
Rx, Wyndelle Remonde (Vinyl on Vinyl Gallery)
“Kung wala ‘tong art ko, baka matagal na akong nag-give up. Para sa akin, higit na nagpapatibay sa’kin ay hindi ‘tong mga gamot, kung hindi ang art.” The diagnosis of chronic kidney disease disrupted Wyndelle Remonde’s supposedly smooth sailing 2019. He was in denial. He refused to open to his colleagues more so to the people who were close to him. Until he knew it was time to tell his story. Remonde documented his condition in the past two years. The exhibition is a visual pathography of his illness, both the struggles and how art gives him reason to fight.