By Amanda Juico Dela Cruz
In grammar, a place is a noun of location. It is a stagnant object in which humans and animals come and go, dwell, destroy, or build. A setting is where an event has taken place. In art, a place can be an artist’s driving force. It is a subject an artist engages with, speaks with, and even takes care of. A place can be an artist’s muse.
Alger Guevarra, Genavee Lazaro, JD Yu, Jose Solon Perfecto, and Simon Te, “In Pursuit of Less,” Eskinita Art Gallery.
Inspired by La Union, the artists become intimate with the province, engaging with its historical, cultural, and diasporic narratives. JD Yu contrasts La Union’s photographed land/seascape with origami-style animal ceramic pieces. Alger Guevarra intersects environmental advocacy with the nostalgic musing on pre-commercial paint era: turning rubber slippers found on shores into pigments. Genavee Lazaro sees clouds as a metaphor for people’s attraction to similar energies. Jose Solon Perfecto saw himself as the Creator of his clays until he dived deep into his roots. Simon Te’s exploration of his newly found painting skills is an invitation for an instinctive appreciation.
Art De Leon, “Keep Calm,” Art Underground.
What is seen are human figures in knee-deep flood of crystal blue water going on with their lives: a man sleeping soundly in an air mattress, an unbothered man drinking from his mug, a newly showered woman wrapped in towel, and a little girl dining with her father. The other figures found ways to cope with the floods by making it a source of entertainment like the child who refuses to get off his makeshift boat or by evacuating with their cherished possessions: an icon of Santo Niño, livestock and pet animals, and child playfully imitating the iconic batman mask.
Doktor Karayom, “Namatanda,” Artinformal.
A cautionary poem accompanies the bloody show. The literary text narrates the character’s ignorance of and detachment from knowledge of Filipino folk beliefs. Unaware, the character ruins the homes of mythological creatures resulting to being cursed. On the walls of the gallery are large red tapestries. The aesthetic of the works resembles the aesthetic of folk healing. The artist, unfiltered, added macabre imageries: a human figure shrouded by a web of veins, hands suspended, heads barely hanging from a mass of flesh. In some works, one could almost see a sort of the Revelation: angry god over a chaotic landscape.
Ikea Rizalon, “Natural Assembly,” Blanc Gallery.
Depicted in the works of art are instances of migration. The artist juxtaposes human diasporic movement with wildlife’s means of survival. The common denominator in their situations, that also differentiates them, is conflict. There is one work showing trees that are turned into logs which are then turned into a bridge. The other works show human figures in different situations like societal conflict and marriage that perhaps force them to leave. The other works offer hope. One shows a modern Garden of Eden. Two of them show fragmented images of sceneries that are meant to be a reminder of one’s destination.
Reynold dela Cruz, “Every War is Different, Every War is the Same,” Altro Mondo Arte Contemporanae.
Juxtapositions and layers. One look and one would be reminded of Roy Lichtenstein’s and Andy Warhol’s popping colors, and of Banksy’s rebellion. Symbols of anarchy and destruction contrast with iconic cartoon characters from one’s childhood. Images of beautiful women from the antiquity engage with images of modern women with provocative expressions. The surfaces of the works of art are akin to a battlefield as elements of pop art and of fine art try to overlay one another. The works depict wars that go beyond the narratives of bullets and of projectiles, of warfare. Wars happen differently, but wars are wars.
Eugie Varona Dela Cruz, “3ree Dimension,” Art for Space.
“Everywhere, there is beauty to behold. An artist’s hand is a mere instrument in shaping and molding the magnificence around them,” the artist said. In the abstract sculptures of wood art, one can sense that the nature conversed with the artist’s artistic sensibility. The patterns and shades of the wood pieces were well-considered in reshaping nature’s works into a man’s works of art. The curves naturally printed on wood pieces complement the shapes the artist carved them into. Different shades of brown are put together to give artistic tropes—mother and child, Maria, and lovers—a unique rendition.