By Amanda Juico Dela Cruz. Images courtesy of the galleries.
Art can be a tool to process preoccupations and musings. Sometimes, it ends with a concrete answer. Other times, it has to be left as it is, for the meantime or forever. Kirk Tabanera and Roger Mond in their group show portray truth within the ontological, epistemological, and ethical discourse. Kiko Urquiola and Ela Andal in their respective solo shows choose to examine the self. Dave Lock, Ianna Engaño, Laura Abejo, Miki Mulingtapang, Tano Panaligan, Regen Mulingtapang, and Ren Quinio ponder on the thesis-antithesis-synthesis dynamics of the world only for it to become apocalyptic. The works of Gus Albor are better appreciated in silence.
Kirk Tabanera and Roger Mond, “The Breakfast Club” (Art Verité Gallery)
A socio-political critique. Underneath the portraits of the everyday are questions about truth: What is it? How are they created? Are they the same as facts? Why are they important, or not? Truth can be broken down into “digestible delusions and edible lies.” Kirk Tabanera confronts an open secret: truth can be manufactured by anyone and be sold as facts, like a magic trick as depicted in “Queen Bee.” Meanwhile, Roger Mond speaks of truth within the discourse of class struggle: a means to survive. A little pretension keeps sanity amidst the hustle culture like the couple “Dagwood” and “Blondie.”
Kiko Urquiola, “Comfort Noise” (White Walls Gallery)
Watch the flow of thoughts freely come and go. There is a saying, to invite one’s thoughts over a cup of tea. It can be interpreted in many ways. The artist renders his thoughts a form, materializing their intangibility. These are thoughts that occupy his mind during his down time. It is the time that is supposed to quiet the mind. Instead, preoccupations swing from one branch to the next, a monkey mind. These images are coupled with witty titles, playing words masterfully evoking tickling musings. The works do not end as mere works of wit, but as a meditation.
Dave Lock, Ianna Engaño, Laura Abejo, Miki Mulingtapang, Tano Panaligan, Regen Mulingtapang, and Ren Quinio, “The Light We Can’t Unsee” (Vinyl on Vinyl Gallery)
Juxtaposing innocence and corruption, life and death, and rise and fall. Vibrant works grace the bitter lime walls of the gallery: an ode to Orpheus’s grief and devotion to Eurydice, a sheep in many surrealist scenes of tragedy, a rope hanging with its setting dictating its meaning. Meanwhile, on the cold concrete finish floor, lays death: a skeleton, seemingly screaming, uncertain whether emerging from or being buried in the vastness of white sand. Elements of fantasy are immediately snatched down by imageries of a vicious world. One that is ill-fated, meant to crumble, and a reflection of the humanity’s principles.
Ela Andal, “My Story” (Secret Fresh)
To reveal the private self is to confess. Appropriating KAWS’s playful “Companion” and Takashi Murakami’s joyful “Flower” add depth to the already complex women’s narratives, particularly the artist’s. There are elements that display her embracing of gendered concepts such as allowing one’s self to feel and to express these feelings. There are scribbles and gestures expressing love, for one. But there are elements that show resistance. Streetwear, for example, was built on sexism, but the artist owns its icons—Companion and Flower—to navigate her story as a woman. Turquoise dominates the background of the figures, reminiscent of water’s fluidity.
Alexander Calceta, “Retrospection” (Galerie Stephanie)
Maximalist compositions as testament of the self. The artist paints everyday accumulations in their most candid state, allowing rust and creases to bestow inherently meaningless objects a story. Minimalism—not only as an art movement, but also as a lifestyle—has become an antidote for overindulgence. While it has merits, minimalism has somehow denied these objects a meaning other than being merely an addition to the pile. On a closer look, however, these objects when curated reveal one’s idée fixes and taste. They become vessels of memory. As if caught off guard, the artist preserves the objects before their decay.
Gus Albor, “Trance” (Drawing Room Manila)
An invitation to go into a trance. Each work of art encapsulates a poetic experience. At the core of the works is an appeal to the viewer to prolong their engagement, hoping to give birth to a new perspective. Black iron, stainless steel rise tall, an allusion to a tiny Seed’s future. The car in distraught state summarizes what Life is: lived with a purpose, but eventually has to succumb to retirement. The heavily textured white acrylic on canvas gives a glimpse of what Divinity feels like. Senses are understood through X-ray films, providing an image to these inner workings.