Text and photos by Miles Nicole See.
Baguio-based artist, James Gabito opened his solo exhibit in Art Underground Manila entitled “Aura of the Breathing Land”. “Aura of the Breathing Land” is a series of paintings that give an impressionistic take on the conditions that are currently taking place in the environment of the Cordillera region, particularly its forest areas. Gabito was born and raised in the aforementioned region and that plays a massive impact on why the gradual destruction of the Cordilleras is utterly significant in his life.
In addition, the series of paintings in the exhibit produced illusions of small clusters or holes which may give a feeling of discomfort to those who have a strong dislike to the sight of irregular patterns and small holes. To some, the visual components in the illustrations may give an appearance of a net-like structure which may be quite baffling and surprising knowing the main theme of the exhibit.
In “Aura of the Breathing Land”, Gabito also set up an eye-catching installation which can somewhat give a glimpse or an idea of the rich weaving industry in the Cordilleras. Weaving is a method in which fabric is produced through the means of interlacing two distinct sets of yarns or threads. Through the use of this installation, Gabito wanted people to know the richness of the Cordilleran heritage as well as its culture that will only be seen in the generations to come if it will be preserved and taken good care of.
Gabito’s interest in visualizing properties of the Mountain province resulted in him intergrating multi-colored fragments and rocky textures to the paintings. These are representations that interlink with his memories of what was once the abundant woodland areas of the Cordilleras. Having spent his formative years in the said region, Gabito was raised to see humans as the stewards of nature.
In this series, Gabito exemplifies only one message through the use of different paintings and that is to protect nature, particularly the woodland areas, that have not been paid a good amount of attention when urban development and modern agricultural methods came into the scene. “Aura of the Breathing Land” seeks to shed some light on how the scales have tipped in favor of urbanization, serving as a reminder to each and every one of the beauty that nature has to offer if it will be given an abundant amount of awareness.