In his first solo show, Accelerator, Ramon Afable seeks the infinite layers of humanity.
Words by Maia San Diego. Images courtesy of the artist.
Anxiety. Impatience. Exasperation. There is a deep hunger for something – anything – to change now.
This is a call for immediate transformation. Perhaps, a revolution?
The show, Accelerator, devours the viewer. Ramon Afable (b. 1993) tackles the idea of the apocalypse in its biblical sense. The biblical apocalypse is an unveiling – a revelation of truths long hidden. Much of our nature has yet to be exposed. Afable’s works for his first solo show echo these layers of human existence and man’s curiosity about the mysteries of the universe.
Accelerator is Afable’s pursuit for accelerated evolution from the status quo. His search for meaning is reflective of man’s primal inclination to find answers to life’s infinite questions. Much like how humans have been concerned about natural phenomena such as the color of the sky, the sound of thunder, and the embers of fire, Afable remains sensitive to his human desires.
Afable graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts with a degree in Painting. Prior to this, Afable obtained a degree in Information Design from the Ateneo de Manila University. He says his background in design has helped him in his compositions.
Afable’s works for Accelerator mirror the multitude of layers of humanity’s complex nature. Similarly, Afable’s artistic process involves a multilayered approach whether it be in painting or digital mediums. At some point years ago, his painting process failed to satisfy his objectives. This prompted an exploration of other forms which led to his experimentation with video and sound as his newfound medium. For his paintings in Accelerator, he composed studies in a video editing software rather than the more traditional means of sketching on paper. This is how the artist has merged his painting process with his new media practice.
Accelerator is an experiential piece. Although composed of different mediums, his works are interconnected in a web of complex inquiries on the human condition. Accelerator begs to be experienced beyond the confines of one’s glaring phone screen. One must allow oneself to first take it all in before zooming into its layers and coming back up for air. It implies a hypnotic cycle of finding links and associations.
For instance, in Afable’s oil painting, Ghosts, one may see an erupting volcano, disrupted by small monoliths scattered towards the edges of the canvas. With the artist’s desire for accelerated change, this piece may be read as having similar evolutionary themes as Stanley Kubrick’s film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Viewing Afable’s works is a multilayered process.
“The world today needs more truth-seekers rather than empire-builders,” says Afable. The artist could not have said it better. It’s about time we disrupt the status quo. While the national pandemic situation seems to be experiencing a lull, our political climate remains in flames. With recent global and local events, it is only apt for nations to develop an intense desire for positive and tangible change. Many Filipinos, for instance, have already been showing growing hunger for a shift in government. The anxiety for the upcoming elections has induced heated discussions on social media involving conflicts between opposing camps. We need good leaders now.
Times of political unrest provoke anxiety and discomfort among citizens including Afable himself. He draws ideas from the anxiety and exasperation towards our country’s political realities. Despite it all, Afable’s hope and desire for positive change remains.
Afable believes in how current happenings have parallels in history where fundamental aspects of human nature continue to reveal themselves. “The role of the artist, much like the philosopher, the holy man, and the mathematician, is as a truth-seeker,” says Afable. There is a natural thirst to bring back a sense of humanity in the current structure of our environment.
Accelerator is, so far, Afable’s most successful attempt at controlling the chaos and compulsion that is evident in his creative process. Much of this artistic control may be reflective of how a number of Filipinos today have been focused on channeling their energy towards moving people to make more informed decisions. The rechanneling of one’s energy, like Afable’s shift from chaos and compulsion, may be utilized for maximum impact leading to the success of one’s pursuits.
As we brace ourselves against today’s empire-builders, however, there remains a push-and-pull between our search for truth and our penchant for power. This is our ultimate struggle.
Ramon Afable’s Accelerator calls on those who are willing to listen. The show lures us in and resurfaces what is left of our humanity.
Anxiety, impatience, exasperation – upon immersing in Ramon Afable’s controlled chaos, one may draw a sense of comfort from its vague familiarity. How does one seek the truth today? In the end, we are all left with questions.
Visit Ramon Afable’s first solo show, Accelerator, at Gravity Art Space, Mother Ignacia Avenue, Quezon City. The show runs until April 22, 2022.