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_____ The Blank Canvas Variations

Anna Lacson & Hans De Barras

The Blank Canvas Variations

Anna Lacson & Hans De Barras An Exhibit by CafĂŠ Memento Silliman Avenue, Dumaguete City October 2013

Anna Lacson & Hans De Barras are both currently taking up a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, Major in Painting in Silliman University. The first of the Blank Canvas Variations was created in February of 2013. Hans and Anna were assigned to collaborate on a school project. Their first Blank Canvas Variation was entitled Homo Ludens and it was a 3D-assemblage that featured the cotton-stuffed canvas dolls mounted on various ephemera. Since then they have been continually expounding their ideas on working with canvas in unique and unconventional ways. Homo Ludens was first exhibited in March of 2013, in the Annual Horace B. Silliman Exhibit, in the Claire McGill Luce Auditorium of Silliman University. It was later dismantled and elements of that first assemblage contributed to the making of the Blank Canvas Variations.

Homo Ludens (2013) canvas, cotton, buttons, thread, yarn, and found objects 122 x 122 x 183 cm

The Blank Canvas Variations in Café Memento is Hans and Anna’s first collaborative exhibit. This November, two more of their variations will be exhibited as part of Artwalk: Art for a Cause, a city-wide fund-raising exhibit headed by Hersley-Ven Casero and Anna L. Koosmann.

Blank Canvas Variations The phrase ‘blank canvas’ is a figure of speech that has come to denote an object, person, or situation that is yet absent of meaning. The phrase is mimetic of the painting process, wherein traditionally, artists would first prepare a blank, ‘neutral’ canvas upon which paint, or other mediums were to be applied. In effect, the unprimed, un-stretched canvas took on a role of passivity, as the bearer of art but not yet capable of art in itself. In the making of art there are also a number of elements that are presumably of this nature, being ‘blank’ or ‘neutral’. In example, the idea of negative space, and white. For this exhibit, the artists deliberately chose to work only with these presumably ‘neutral’ elements in varied ways, in order to allow these elements to speak.

Exhibit Poster Risograph Print 29.7 x 42 cm

The result is a collection of pieces that play not only with the materiality of canvas, but also its reaction to light, shadow, translucence, and negative space. These are playful works that approach the ‘neutral’ elements creatively, with a touch of humour. Many of the works feature canvas figures interacting with the background and with one another. The figures enable the idea of the variations to be more relatable, for art is often said to be a representation of our own lives. We too, interact with so called ‘neutral’ things all the time, and find out that they are not always so.


yarn, rope and stretched canvas on frame 75 x 62 x 1.5 cm


yarn, rope and stretched canvas on frame 75 x 62 x 1.5 cm

Ascent canvas on canvas, cotton, buttons and thread, yarn 75.5 x 29.5 x 2.3 cm

Class Picture canvas on canvas, cotton, buttons and thread 43 x 51 x 3.5 cm

Absent thread on canvas 48 x 48 x 2 cm

Eyes yarn and thread on canvas 45.6 x 30 x 1.8 cm

Hug cotton, stretched canvas on frame 92 x 70.5 x 9 cm

Stranger yarn and thread on canvas 56 x 48 x 2 cm

Spectators cotton and canvas on wooden frame, yarn, buttons and thread

Left: 51 x 51 x 3.3 cm Right: 49 x 51 x 3.2 cm

Vacancy canvas on canvas, cotton, buttons and thread, yarn

61 x 127.5 x 5 cm

Blank Canvas Variations