By Amanda Juico Dela Cruz
New Year is often filled by hopeful energy, the kind that fuels the will to change that which needs changing and to chase dreams worthy of perseverance. But, sometimes, stillness—the kind that allows one to just be—must be nurtured too to allow for deep introspection. The exhibitions featured embody the movement needed to welcome the year, while embracing a sense of tranquility to bid the past year a farewell.
Lesley-Anne Cao, Fyerool Darma, Jean Claire Dy, bani haykal, Ariko Ikehara, Tuan Andrew Nguyen, Elia Nurvista, Ahmad Fuad Osman, Sim Chiyin, Simon Soon and Munirah Mansoor, Isola Tong, Ming Wong, and Yee I-Lann, “Cast But One Shadow” (UP Vargas Museum)
Taking off from Han Suyin’s fictional work based on Maria Bertha Hertogh—whose life challenged the laws of diplomacy and race—the exhibition expands curators Kathleen Ditzig and Carlos Quijon, Jr.’s research on race, decolonization, and geopolitics. Modern and contemporary works of art, archival materials, and pop culture detritus occupy the Museum’s spaces, granting different perspectives to relive the narratives. While it remains an art exhibition, it can be a testament as much as a trajectory of historical narratives of the propinquity of these colonized territories as the works testify on how the present is unequivocally ensnared in the past.
Robin Castillo, “Gymnopédie No. 1” (Art Portal Gallery)
To be played painfully, sadly, and gravely as instructed in Erik Satie’s piano composition, which the exhibition is titled after. The use of black sets the atmosphere of the works, a visual rendition to Satie’s, which is a precursor to modern ambient music. The consistency of ink and of watercolor echoes the specificity of melancholy in the music. The body language of the female figures, giving in to the pull of gravity, is an all too familiar sight conveying psychological turmoil. All these elements are a conscious effort of the artist to publicize the isolation experienced during the lock down.
Norberto Roldan, “Objects Do Not Fall From the Sky” (MO_Space)
“This show is my good bye gift to Kamuning,” the artist reveals in Artistshots. The district is survived by the few bungalows and cottages built right after the Second World War, but these debris of the past are succumbing to townhouses. The artist, as a farewell to its charm, rummaged little shops and second-hand stores for materials—salvaged from demolished houses—to be assembled into the works displayed in the show. One of these was a scrapbook with portraits of Hollywood stars—the people’s escape from the ruins of the War—an allusion to the artist’s moving back to Capiz.
Jan Edlyn Dalay Benitez, Mario Costan Binongo, Cly Cleope, Jeosh Grimshaw, Ross Gadiana, Francesco Ochoco, Jolo Senense, MacJ Turla, and Gabo Valenzuela, “Layag” (1335Mabini)
Navigating the limited space of a canvas, the young artists made meaning out of the word “layag” that goes beyond its being a mere piece of fabric that allows a boat to sail. What their depicted narratives have in common are movements to and from realities, breaking the boundary of space and time, truth and fantasy, and consciousness and unconsciousness. The destinations are not clear, provoking uncertainty and unsettlement. Perhaps, this anxiety towards not knowing is an invitation to meditate on one’s existential and/or social journey. Or it could be a tug to start sailing, to brave towards the unknown.
Atsuko Yamagata, “Lovable Adorable Cells” (Galerie Stephanie)
The smallest structural and functional unit of organisms, the cell, works as a metaphor for existential nuances and the dynamics of living. Allowing glue to take its own form, the artist invited external elements such as air and moisture to co-create her works. The uncontrolled elements and the artist’s intention give birth to images that portray human complexity: lovable and adorable, but always with the possibilities of inconvenience and difficulty. The images show organisms in varied shapes and colors communally gathered, a stark reminder to interact with no discrimination. It is through this that one lives life truthfully and meaningfully.
Andre Baldovino, Christian Culangan, Floyd Absalon, Gabe Naguiat, Gelo Narag, and Jopet Arias, “begin with a second, a mirror of the first” (Altro Mondo Arte Contemporanea)
From the traditional medium of painting to the installation of sound, video, and found objects, to the NFT that rapidly incorporates metaverse into this realm, the exhibition seeks balance by including works from a broad spectrum of media. Images, which balance is the reference point, allow the audience to marvel in the beauty of symmetry. Often identified with bilateral symmetry—that is when a line is drawn down the figure’s middle then flipped one side over to the other would result to a perfectly overlapping figure—different aesthetic experiences of this quality are evoked by the artists in their respective works.