Text by Alain Zedrick Camiling Photos by UP Vargas Museum
Art historian and curator Dr. Patrick Flores defines ‘crisis’ as a critical condition, an emergency, and an opportunity. The pandemic has indeed become an opportunity for explorations and modifications in terms of engaging various audiences for cultural and creative spaces, and the cyberspace has been a makeshift world in an emergency, critical state, for all industries dealing with the ‘new normal’ given limitations on mobility and modalities. For UP Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center, in partnership with Galleria Duemila, possibilities in exhibition-making are endless as they launch Form | Kata Proto-type, featuring painter and sculptor Roberto M.A. Robles at the 1F Galleries, outdoor West Porch, and Driveway of the Museum until August 2020.
Form | Kata Proto-type is a conceptual continuation of Robles’ past exhibition, Tagalog at Taga-ilog, at the same location eight years ago. He gives us minimalistic post-sculptural forms made of marble mined from Teresa, Rizal, a landlocked municipality with agricultural lands and marble-rich mountains.
The works are identified as ‘post-sculptural’ as these go through layers of intervention from their being raw, rough, and unfinished until the artist maximizes them as a medium. As Robles sees the metaphysical universe as something that is beyond allegorical representations, he then repurposes marble as somewhat a springboard to channel his critical ideas through abstracted forms.
This exhibition posits as a proposal of Tagalog identity which stems from both product and process relating to marble from the mere dissection of form into layers through scorching periods and pressure—”primordial beginnings and migrations evidenced by petroglyphs, fossils, and oral mythology, colonial conquest and revolution, political unrest and radical cultural shifts, and the contemporary milieu.” Conceivably, a cue to construct, deconstruct, and reconstruct Filipino counter-narratives to disrupt such cultural dominance of the current world that is Euro-centric or a worldview that emphasizes European (and by extension, anything Western) culture and history are superior to others, perhaps of sheer dominance which stems from ideologies on capitalism.
Academically, Roberto M.A. Robles accomplished MA Fine Arts major in Sculpture from University of Tsukuba, Japan and his bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from University of the East Manila. His works have been exhibited in various parts of the world including Korea, Australia, USA, France, Singapore, South Africa, and Japan, among others, and some form part of biggest local collections like Ateneo Art Gallery, Ayala Museum, The Metropolitan Museum, Lopez Memorial Museum, and many more.
In reflection, might this exhibition be a turning point for everyone to rethink and revisit their roots and schemas with regards to their identity or what comprises or defines it? Robles explores and expands this concept throughout his work from Form | Kata Proto-type, building up layers of notions, ideals, and critical points, as much as how a marble gets manufactured: from mining in quarries to his own artistic and creative intervention.
Yet another great addition to your quarantine art dose, view Form | Kata Proto-type by Roberto M.A. Robles directly from your couch through this virtual tour on Youtube. This exhibit has been launched online with Junyee’s “Kwarantin” (2020) which is concurrently displayed at the Museum’s front lawn.
Personal visits to the exhibit are currently on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Further information regarding this exhibition will be announced as quarantine measures develop. You may reach Vargas Museum at (+632) 8981-8500 loc. 4024 (UP trunkline), (+632)
8928-1927 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. They are also available in other
channels: website, Facebook, and Twitter via @UPVargasMuseum.