APROPIACIÓN Diskurso Curation’s first sampler-of-sorts exhibition of contemporary Philippine artists who would collectively demonstrate the various ways appropriation, as a tool for discourse, may be employed while addressing the problematics of same usage The third in diskurso.com’s continuing
The Art Piece as a Closed Text series
March 19 - April 5, 2019
J Studio Pasillo 18, La Fuerza Plaza, Gate 1, 2241 Chino Roces Avenue Makati, Philippines
[Diskurso Curation is the curatorial platform initiative of diskurso.com]
ÂŠ 2019 diskurso.com
APROPIACIÓN Diskurso Curation’s first sampler-of-sorts of contemporary Philippine art pieces using appropriation as a tool for discourse while addressing the problematics of same use Part of diskurso.com’s continuing The Art Piece as a Closed Text series
curated by Diskurso Curation
March 19 - April 5, 2019
J Studio Pasillo 18, La Fuerza Plaza Gate 1, 2241 Chino Roces Avenue Makati
AS you may know, last year diskurso.com started to pursue a curatorial direction for the e-zine, forming a curatorial platform for the magazine-cum-blog which then became its department called Diskurso Curation. The first curatorial venture diskurso.com thought of was a projected series of shows titled The Art Piece as a Closed Text, after Italian semiotician Umberto Eco’s definition of the “closed text” as any
artistic product with a clear meaning it has assigned to itself. This is opposite what Eco would call the “open text” sort of art product and production that encourages readers/viewers to come up with their own readings of what that art product is about. This series venture was in direct accord with diskurso’s mission to “bring back” or “shine a light on” discourse in contemporary Philippine art, as an alternative to what we think is a predominance of art creation and art support or consumption aiming for the merely attractive. This was also a product of our reaction to artists’ complaint about a dire lack of critics, to which our answer is for them not to wait for critics to discuss their art but to instigate discussion themselves in these critics' absence through or within their art or shows. So The Art Piece as a Closed Text has that other intent, which is to empower artists to become the managers of their own art’s meanings or significance—again, to go against the habit of many of them to simply lean on critics, museum directors, curators, or the market to assign those significances to their artworks (allowing this audience to extract meanings from both an entire body of work and specific works, meanings you’d almost think the artists couldn’t have thought of themselves). The first show to come out of this series, titled Allegoria 1, was on the allegory, or the allegorical device—that device that allows artists to “talk” about things other than what are visible on their pictures or sculptures or installations. This show was realized on the 15th of March last year at Altro Mondo Arte Contemporanea. It ran until April 12. Then the series' second show was quickly hatched. A show on religious or spiritual art, the resulting exhibition just concluded in this very same gallery last March 9 after opening on February 16.
NOW comes the present show. When this show's concept was hatched, our curatorial platform wrote to a select few artists whom we asked to be part of the third show of the series. To be titled Apropiación, the objective was to focus on the subject of appropriation in art and explore this usage's
many problems. APROPIACIÓN. This exhibition intends to present artworks with various deliberate expressions embracing the use of appropriation. The artists invited to this exhibition have all in the recent past showed themselves to be adept at, or deeply knowledgeable about, the use of borrowed, extracted, or sampled objects or images, whether they're images or objects from other artists or from the man-made environment, for their own end products and intended contexts. It goes without saying that we expected the artists in this show to demonstrate their ability to manage their art’s respective contexts through their appropriation of objects and images as carriers of meaning. As well, that they are fully aware of the fact that every appropriated object or image is either re-contextualized in new compositions toward new readings or otherwise revitalized via the user's homage or parody/mockery of that object in its original context. Either way, questions old and new are posed simply by that image's presentation or new representation. WHAT ARE THE OTHER INTENTS/FUNCTIONS OF THE SHOW? While every piece in this show would have its own distinct contextual concern, the show itself—where each of the said pieces has been asked to be part of—shall demonstrate the following: 1. Appropriation’s flexibility as well as its various points of controversy, controversy to do mostly with a niche’s relationship with the object or image appropriated by the artist for the concocting of a metaphor, tribute, or mockery; 2. As an extension of #1, that the show could find itself reintroducing political or social issues directly related to the sociological concepts of cultural appropriation, recuperation, assimilation, Westernization, and syncretism, among many others; 3. How appropriation may operate versus copyright, as well as with the issues of copylefting images, images in the public domain, visual quoting or sampling, and so on—essentially the concept of “art” as license to visually “quote” anything out
there; 4. The problem of visual puns and metaphors using appropriated imagery as producers of consequent issues (imposed or otherwise) arising from the appropriating act, issues including catachresis, hyperbolic visual statements, resultant linguistic puns (metonymy, etc.), cognitive metaphors, and historical linguistics, as applied to visual art “texts” aiming to function under a title or intent; 5. Finally, as an evolution from or elevation of #1 and #2, the conflicts that may result from the very act of recontextualization when the appropriation act is read as too much of a liberalism against another party’s contextual purism towards the appropriated image.
OTHER "CLOSED TEXT" SHOWS ON THE HORIZON ALSO looming on the horizon for the The Art Piece as a Closed Text series: Histórica (historical art); Politico (political themes in art); Ilustración (illustration of literary texts); and so on.
PARTICIPATING ARTISTS: JONATHAN BENITEZ MIDEO M. CRUZ SIMKIN DE PIO JOJO SORIA DE VEYRA JULIET LEA NOLI PRINCIPE MANALANG JASON MOSS ALWIN REAMILLO JON RED RAUL G. RODRIGUEZ ANGELO VALMORIA ROXAS BRIAN SERGIO CLAIRELYNN UY
Joanthan Benitez, Biology Class, 2019, acrylic and collage on canvas panel, 36" x 48" lateral space occupied
For his piece for Apropiacion, which the artist titled Biology Class, JONATHAN BENITEZ chose an image of a woman taken from the Internet, specifically a vintage photo that captured the clothing fashion of the 19th century, and reproduced this through the usual painting process. He then put atop and around this image a collage of pictures from an almanac and an animal book carrying illustrations by naturalist Ernst Haeckel. Benitez says he used the central image as a symbol of virtue and a unique Filipino appearance. That grabbing of a vintage female image departs from the artist's usual appropriation of popular female iconography in the fashion magazines of the current and recent decades. If we are to remember the reviews that say Benitez would use his female fashion images to juxtapose them with imagery from "nature," ostensibly to force a sort of animist and Taoist sense into those fragile figures of human consumerism and taste, then his present exploration of vintage fashion adds another dimension to the same philosophy or attitude. It seems as if Benitez is insisting that we were nearer to nature, in all its grace and ferociousness, in the past than today, both because of the implied culture associated with the age as well as to the absence of such material as polyester. As usual, Benitez aims here to project utter harmony between the human figure and nature instead of conflict, even as the figure may appear as behind an aquarium glass instead of within the fishes' water. And, as usual, Benitez would imply here, through the absence or hiding of the human face, the melding of the human body and the other natural bodies, the former now freed from her man-over-nature Romanticism. "Inipon ko sila lahat via collage, at naka-layer sa lumang imahe ng isang babae, na parang mga insektong maliliit pero kasama sa existence ng tao," explains Benitez. "At gaya ng gusto kong mangyari, di lagi malinaw ang mukha ng subject; inalisan ko ito ng cosmetic para ibunyag ang pagkaka-pantay-pantay ng lahat ng organismo sa lupa, dahil pare-pareho lang tayong nagsusumikap maka-survive sa pang araw-araw na buhay." Benitez is a Palawan-based civil engineering graduate who chose to devote himself to the art of collage and painting. He has been active
in group shows since 1997 and in the major Manila galleries scene since 2012. His first Manila solo show was in 2015 at ArtGalileia, The Shops at Serendra. In his art he often collages printed pictures from glossy fashion magazines and books, among other available image sources. To Benitez, these images are codes inherently potent in illustrating an idea, both their original idea and his, towards a final recontextualization. Via this process, the collaged images will have been transformed by Benitez's appropriation of them, ending up extended for his philosophical concerns. Benitez generally loves depicting portraits/figures of common people juxtaposed on fragments of varied surfaces. His aim is to connect "the relative essence of all beings and their relationships" with one another and things, "their common traits" as inhabitants of the earth, and their "fragility and impermanence." He explores the narrative impact that human images may suggest, particularly its role in invoking a presence or memories, as well as histories and inspirations personal to the artist stemming from his cross-cultural ties to the people of Palawan where he lives and works and with the island of Mindanao where he was born. "I have a strong fascination with figures and how they are affected by a given environment. I am inspired by my hometownâ€™s lush vegetation. My world is populated with plants, wildlife, and entities from folklore, all within an atmosphere of contentment while living in harmony with nature and small communities. . . . I believe man's behavior is influenced by his surroundings, while at the same time that his presence leaves a mark on his dwelling places. Itâ€™s always a symbiosis. "My collage activity is a commentary on commercial advertising, whose purpose has always been to capture the mind of the viewer by showing a variation of the truth. In my utilization of printed images is where I engage them with my point of departure, namely the belief that our society is bombarded with them every day, dictating how we should behave. My subjects are familiar images of people and birds and plants as projected in the media, yet still, If we take time to look
closely at them and feel their essence, we can notice their natural strangeness."
Mideo M. Cruz, Buy More, 2019, acrylic, industrial paint, resin, found objects, 120" (height) x 9" x 10"
Remember Japonism in Western art? In his entries for Apropiacion, MIDEO M. CRUZ reverses the situation. In these bricolage pieces using elements from Japanese dolls and McDonald's and Walt Disney toys, Cruz presents a post-World War II Japan, likely from the 1970s to the present (the first McDonald's store in Tokyo opened in 1971), a Japan mesmerized by McDonald's products and Disney cartoons. In Reflection, a figure in a meditative sitting pose becomes a Mickey Mouse-headed symbol of Westernization, more devoted to the happy promotion of the self as brand than to any Zen or Empire nationalist condition. In Price and Fries, samurai Mickey raises what looks like a price potato head while holding a clan banner carrying the prideful insignia of french fries. In Thirst, a black Mickey Mouse may be paying homage to the representation of black American soldiers, but soon we realize that it's just another apolitical bawdlerization of the Japanese warrior as a sucker for Coke. Convenience, meanwhile, sees Ronald McDonald this time as a Japanese citizen (male or female) in the meditating pose, wearing a kimono; he/she has exchanged a typical serious sushi-eating face for a happy white one, celebrating what could be a 1977 McFeast's triumph with convenience. In Hades, the seriousness of the mythology concerning the god of death and the underworld turns happy, kidding around with samurai Ronaldâ€”here with a red head (red meat?) and a banner carrying McDonald's number one colorâ€”raising a smiling geisha's head on his spear. Trophy, meanwhile, is a martial artist whose grave-faced head is replaced by a head-hunting Ronald McDonald's smiling white one; oh, beware the wars of McDonald's parlor games! All of this is underlined by Cruz's tallest piece here, titled Buy More, which features Ronald McDonald in the finest kimono, raising the American banner and slogan "Buy More!" for surplus production and an advertising philosophy favoring a consumerist Japanese future.
Simkin de Pio, Avatar, 2019, acrylic on canvas, 36" x 36"
SIMKIN DE PIOâ€™s acrylic piece titled Avatar references the computing avatar as a graphical representation or alter-ego of a computer-engaged individual. The image here takes off from Juan Luna's 1895 painting La BulaqueĂąa, over which de Pio appropriates the wink emoticon to denigrate, or even misrepresent, whatever the girl in the Maria Clara gown may represent, simply through the instant and lightheaded expression of computer culture. We may actually remember that the original meaning of "avatar" involves a Hindu deity who has descended unto earth, like Jesus, and that the computer term "avatar" may actually have hoped to see users representing or projecting their personality with or through it, including religious or
political personality. In short, de Pio is making a statement about how things formerly deep or of-a-long-story may have turned shallow, even fake, projecting falsehoods. He could also, in fact, be making a statement about appropriation itself, especially in the instant world of Googled images and information (including light or false information as well as light or false understanding). Notice, for instance, that the computer avatar here is a woman in a Maria Clara gown, and Maria Clara was often made a symbol of the educated, witty, but patient, as well as prim and proper, young Filipina of the 19th century (read: woman with the correct behavior and training). That her portrait is here overwhelmed by the wink emoticon already posits the use of the Maria Clara figure as a possible irony, albeit just as educated a use. Unless, of course, the person who has used her in this narrative may actually have used her through unintentional catachresis, taking only a part of her symbolism but not the part concerning Maria Clara's good education, the user being perhaps unequal in educational achievement compared to the Maria Claras of old. De Pio is another young painter who has made the rounds of galleries with a number of group shows and one solo show, has been diskurso.com art magazineâ€™s managing editor during its launching phase, and as a student at the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Fine Arts in the 1990s was a winner in several art competitions. In 2014, he was chosen as a delegate to the Langkawi Art Biennale. After having shown works consistently allusive in their avoidance of excessive expressionism or surrealism, he was chosen as one of a number of painters tasked to paint one large history painting each for the permanent exhibition of Philippine history paintings at the Gateway Gallery (the Siningsaysay exhibit). De Pio situates many of his works around ideas about language, history, and the human condition, and has consistently flaunted his respect for both figuration and abstraction as producers of signs. He started painting at an early age and exhibiting in his teens, learning by observing techniques in figurative and portrait painting from his father-
painter Gig. In 1996, he was awarded an honorable mention at the Shell National Students' Art Competition for his painting Siete Noong Setenta, and in 1997 garnered an honorable mention once again at the Shell National Art Competition for his painting Julian. De Pio opened his first and second solo exhibitions in 2007 at Galerie Astra and The Room Upstairs.
Jojo de Veyra, A Pedophile's Symphony in White, 2019, acrylic on canvas, 18" x 14"
While his March 7 to April 28, 2019 solo show continues to run at Altro Mondo at The Picasso on Leviste Street, Salcedo Village, Makati, boasting of paintings rich with appropriated imagery outside and within their original contexts, JOJO DE VEYRA here gives us a sample of his kind of quoting from art history, in this show in a smaller scale. In the above acrylic piece, titled A Pedophile's Symphony in White, de Veyra reconfigures James Abbott McNeill Whistler's 30" x 20" oil piece Symphony in White, No. 3 to display what look like girls quite younger than Whistler's women, and of a race that could be Filipino. As its title suggests, the painter challenges the Whistler painting's ostensibly apolitical position, supposedly dedicated to sheer whiteness and the harmonizing of whiteness' several shades in various shapes/forms accompanied by other colors; de Veyra replaces all that formalist stance with a political direction for his "symphony in white" variant.
In this mini-symphony (little girls, little symphony, get it?), de Veyra introduces the concept of pedophilia and here positions Whistler's color white for the production of various meanings. For one, it could reference foreigner pedophiles commonly identified in local news reports as belonging to the white race. However, should that be taken as racist (aren't there cases of Japanese pedophiles caught here, too?), the painter then offers that the white could simply refer to pureness (purity) or prepubescent or pre-menstrual virginity. Clearly this is a painting influenced by Marxist criticism that not only hits Whistlerian formalism but transforms or transgresses Whistler from within, even if Whistler, albeit a bit of a mistress collector, is not the pedophile alluded to in this new social or political narrative contrived by de Veyra to deny whiteness its neutrality. In fact, to say that this act by de Veyra denigrates Whistlerian formalism and denies apolitical stances their right to exist in favor of de Veyra's political ends would seem to forget that Whistler himself, advertently or inadvertently, helped to develop white as the color of the elite, satirically at first and then not so, even introducing white as the ideal color for elitist gallery exhibitions. De Veyra, signing as Veyra or veyra, is diskurso.com art magazineâ€™s editor and permanent critic. A UP College of Fine Arts dropout, he left painting to ventureâ€”through and after training at the Silliman University Creative Writing Center and the UP Creative Writing Centerâ€”into poetry and fiction writing. He worked in the advertising and publishing industries at various times, tried to push his band Groupies' Panciteria into the limelight, and, failing there, made a bit of a name for himself as a cultural, social, political, and art criticism blogger working on the fringes as well as an advocate for direct democracy with Switzerland as a model. He made his late-blooming debut appearance as a painter in last year's Allegoria group show at the encouragement of college buddy Marcel Antonio and some others, building in his reluctant return to the art his own brand of contemporary allegorical or narrative or essaying sort of painting.
Juliet Lea, part of the series Colourblind Disasters, 2008, mixed media on pine, each panel 48" x 48" (Clockwise from top left: Trinity New Mexico, Hiroshima, Nagasaki; Maralinga, Malden Island, Christmas Island; Religion Bomb; Montebello Islands, Elugelab Island Enewetak Atoll, Nevada Test Site)
Still on political concerns, undervalued Australian artist JULIET LEA contributes to this show a part of a 2008 installation of paintings titled Colourblind Disasters, appropriating the Ishihara test image and how this relates to panels with pictures of nuclear bomb tests. The numbers on some of the panels in that series correspond to the years the bomb tests mentioned in the respective panel titles occurred. In this series, Lea is asking: Is your vision normal? If so, can you see a vision beyond the black and white photographs of nuclear bomb tests, or is your imaginationâ€”like most of humanity'sâ€”blind to it?
Notice, too, if you can, that most nuclear bomb necessities are inspired by color-sensitive racisms in the form of nationalisms or theonomisms or otherwise by a defensive pose against such nationalisms. Additionally, the Ishihara test motif would relate, in Lea's installation or series, to the dot paintings of the Papunya Tula painters, where the dots would represent memories of heavy clouds, sparks/fire/lightning, or rain. Interestingly, in the Papunya indigenous people's paintings, the dots represent an imagined view from above coming from a people with little access to planes. Contrast that with the narrow realist view of the educated urbanite with access to maps and NASA shots of the planet, yet still unable or unwilling to look at things from above or beyond via the already ready human ability to imagine. Lea lives in Hamilton Hill, Western Australia with 2 chickens. She used to exhibit a lot, but now works in a library.
Noli Principe Manalang, Crowning Glory, 2012, watercolor on paper, 24" x 30"
Speaking of leaps of the imagination, hyperrealist watercolorist NOLI PRINCIPE MANALANG is an admirer of Hieronymus Bosch, among other painters from that century, and Bosch's "hallucinations." But Manalang, being a kid of our own century, would take in the imagery and contextualities of those previous artists for our contemporary
time's pop concerns and force a connection or commonality. In Crowning Glory, for instance, he positions one idol of our generation, specifically a beauty pageant winner, in the center of the picture, and then surrounds her with characters from Bosch's Christ Mocked, reconfiguring the original images slightly. True, Miss Universe is no Jesus. But that doesn't mean that she would be exempt from what usually befalls heroes and heroines. In Crowning, Manalang turns Christ's mockers into present-day critics and corruptors, possibly even enablers of hero-making, such as managers who would employ beauty-enhancing surgeons, trainors, and coaches. And if in Bosch's painting Christ was mocked by wealthy and powerful supporters of the Sanhedrin and the Roman imperialists, in Crowning Miss Universe is either mocked or exploited by the same sort of corrupt motives. Manalang, a volunteer Catholic church worker, has indeed imbibed the layman preacher's or catechist's ability to catapult archaic situations into present-day pop ones.
Noli Principe Manalang, Enter from the East, 2019, watercolor on paper, 28" x 44"
The same thing happens in Manalang's 2019 Enter from the East, a variation on Bosch's Hell panel (in Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights triptych). In this piece Manalang transforms Bosch's Hell into what he avers is how a China-invaded Philippines would look like. The title Enter from the East not only imagines an invasion from where Douglas MacArthur re-entered the Philippines, a surprise landing perhaps, but alludes to Bosch's east panel. It could also reference another invader from the East rather than an erstwhile couple of imperialists from the West (Spain and the United States of America). Manalang is a BS Architecture graduate from the University of Santo Tomas and is a master at using imagery appropriated almost verbatim, so to speak, for his own pop narratives. He was a recipient of a Freeman Fellowship Grant from Vermont Studio Center, VT, USA in 2004. Among his recognitions include a Jurors’ Choice award in the Philippine Centennial Painting Competition in 1998; a 2nd Place award in the Shell National Students Art Competition of 1998; a Finalist award in the Philip Morris Philippine Art Awards of 2001; Honorable Mention awards from the Metrobank Young Painters’ Annual National Painting Competition of 1998, 2001, and 2002; the Second Place award at the Art Association of the Philippines Painting Competition of 2003; the Second Place prize in the Metrobank Art and Design Excellence contest of 2004; the Gintong Kabataan Award (Golden Youth Award) for his contributions and achievements in the field of visual arts in his native province of Bulacan in 2006; a Jurors’ Choice award in the Government Service Insurance System Painting Competition of 2008; a Finalist prize in the 1st Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Painting Competition held at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila in 2018; and recognitoon as the youngest artist to be elevated to the hall of fame in Kulay sa Tubig, an invitational watercolour competition sponsored by Gallery Genesis, for having won the competition in 2002, 2003, and 2004. Manalang also bagged the Grand Prize at the Jewelry Guild of the Philippines’ 6th HIYAS Jewelry Design Competition in the Non-Traditional Category in 2016.
He has held two solo exhibitions, in 2005 and 2014, and has participated in numerous local and international exhibitions.
Jason Moss, Menu Card, 2019, oil on canvas, 48" x 24"
Also treating of the China issue, for the show JASON MOSS came up with a variation on Matisse's Dance, thence stamping Chinese characters onto the picture that translates to "Dignity: Yours." According to Moss, his appropriation of Dance aims to "depict a dance of death using Matisseâ€™s figures for it. I wanted it to look like a signage for frogs being sold in a Chinese restaurant," thus his title, Menu Card. Obviously, Moss did more than that, coming up with a resulting horror picture version of what he initially intended. Here, it's as if Moss is sneering at our love for Chinese food, among other things Chinese, that may render us weak to the gradual invasion of our culture by a hegemony with an evil intent. Perhaps that's a racist thing to say and may qualify as fearmongering towards any migrant Chinese individual, even to Chinese Filipinos who may not have any sympathy for Xi Jinping. But one may also allow that it may actually be nothing more than a Churchillian sort of sense towards what may indeed be a future truism over a developing aggression. That developing reality could, in fact, shock us, in much the same way Japan shocked Manchuria once upon a time, and we could all at any time be the ones mocked like frogs
being cooked in our own pan, with Chinese characters nailed onto our bodies through INRI-like placards as we dance our dance of death inside that prison arena or pan, finally dramatizing our people's having surrendered their dignity for the indignities that that hegemony would soon allow. (Our allusion to the pan was triggered by the story concerning frogs slow to react to heat in a pan). It might also interest one to know that Matisse did his hedonist Dance for Russian businessman Sergei Shchukin, whose collection deriving from his affiliations with "bourgeois" culture would later be appropriated by the Russian Revolution (but nonetheless hypocritically kept and every now and then displayed at either the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts or the Hermitage Museum). Moss was born in Metro Manila in 1976. A painter, sculptor, installation artist, and veteran of the literary-visual art of illustration, Moss already had a first solo show in 1993 at the age of seventeen. Despite that headway in the field, he chose to take up a Fine Arts Advertising degree at the University of Santo Tomas, graduating in 1997. When he decided to continue painting, therefore, he had to teach himself the techniques and lexicon of the art and has since then been prolifically exhibiting both in and outside the Philippines. Mossâ€™ subjects deal with various themes in contemporary art, often allegorizing the human condition.
Alwin Reamillo's boxes for his San Andres Bukid piece, from the 2012 Saint Andrews Field series, before installation at the show
San Andres Bukid (alternatively Sand Res Bukid) is ALWIN REAMILLO's variation on his 2012 Saint Andrews Field series composed of four Perspex box frames containing shredded banknotes. To Reamillo, whose every work as an installation and bricolage artist is composed almost entirely of appropriated images and objects, the co-optation of the very shredded banknotes in these very boxes was to him an act of saving the imagery from a condition of inconspicuousness within a government-owned field in Pampanga. That very act of saving them from being hidden again, after their having been found by farmers digging holes for whatever reason, the banknotes' disuse notwithstanding, is to Reamillo a statement by itself that the artist further heightened by keeping them in transparent Perspex boxes, in full view of interested viewers to whom the sight of shredded money may be discomforting (as it may also recall for them the illogic of much government spending). For a fuller appreciation of the piece, Reamillo points us to the key word in the title: "field." The notes, after all, were found by farmers (workers of a field) buried in a nearby materials recovery facility (a field of secrets). Add to that fact, Reamillo noticed color segregation among the sacks, which gave him the idea to construct approximations of color field paintings not unlike those by Mark Rothko, Kenneth Noland, et al., which could be achieved by simply displaying the found material in a minimalist presentation from behind transparent frames or thin boxes. What resulted was politics and aesthetics continuing to battle it out upon the image. Bourgeoisness and political awareness in art became a living issue in the work. In 2012 Reamillo displayed his four cross-shaped boxes diagonally on a wall, thus that series' title, Saint Andrews Field, to reference the Saint Andrews cross. He contrived the cross element to play with the fact that the shredded banknotes were "buried," and then found by farmers and "exhumed," perhaps just out of curiosity. The decision, however, to make the cross a Saint Andrews cross instead of the more familiar Greek one is personal to Reamillo, having been born and grown up in the San Andres Bukid (Saint Andrews Field) district of Manila City, currently a poverty-stricken saturation area for drug
busts and suspected extrajudicial killings. San Andres Bukid is also a low level part of Manila prone to flooding (often buried in water). Reamillo is a stalwart flaunter of metaphors and semantic puns who has managed—all through the years of his art practice here and abroad—the art of appropriation quite well. Constantly aware of the context not only of his works and the tiniest details of these but also of the space of his works’ locus as well as of the materials that build them, he has also ventured into social sculpture.
Alwin Reamillo's installation piece San Adres Bukid (or Sand Res Bukid), installed below Jon Red's painting Sa Isip, Sa Salita, at Sa Baha at the show. The piece can be dated 2019 as a variant of Reamillo's 2012 Saint Andrews Field wall installation. The boxes contain found shredded Philippine banknotes in Perspex box frames, each box 48" x 48" x ½". Other objects of the installation include a toy boat placed between the two boxes, an origami cricket atop the boat to symbolize Pampanga where the shredded banknotes were found, LED candles, bullet shells, and a pail of rocks
Detail of Alwin Reamillo's San Andres Bukid piece, with a bullet shell on top of one of the installtion's main Perspex boxes containing shredded currency bills. According to Reamillo, the bullet is there to dramatize what has happened to San Andres Bukid, Manila, of late. The piece's alternative title, Sand Res Bukid, points both to the fact that San Andres Bukid has always been flood-prone (sand, get it?) and that now a different kind of shell could be found on that sort of "sand"
Detail, Alwin Reamillo's San Andres Bukid shredded banknotes installation with LED candle and bulet shell.
Detail, Alwin Reamillo's San Andres Bukid shredded banknotes installation with toy boat, origami cricket, and LED candle
Detail of Alwin Reamillo's San Andres Bukid installation: a close-up view of the shredded banknotes
Jon Red, Sa Isip, Sa Salita at Sa Baha, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 48" x 24"
Like Reamillo's, JON RED's two works in the show also appropriates language, particularly platitudes. In Sa Isip, Sa Salita at Sa Baha, Red takes off from the line in the Philippine national pledge of allegiance that goes, "sa isip, sa salita, at sa gawa" (in mind, word, and deed). The sudden swerving of the last word to a pun-cum-parody ("gawa" becomes "baha" [flood]) turns the whole thing into an examination of whose mind it is that is engaging with the issue of constant flooding and whose words are acknowledging this new normal. Definitely, the absent "gawa" has been all too obvious.
Jon Red, Satsat at Ratrat, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 48" x 48"
Meanwhile, Red's Satsat at Ratrat takes off from the platitude that goes, "puro ka satsat" (you're all talk) and "ratratin mo" (silence him with a gun). Ratrat may also refer to an unceasing machine-gun mouth, or a long dressing-down or criticism, which we suspect Red means to allude to a current presidential signature. Red explains his work this way: "one man's senseless talk & triggers. curses & crime. grunts & guns. vulgarity & violence. blasphemy & brutality. blahblahblah & bangbangbang." Red studied painting and visual arts at the Philippine High School for the Arts and then at theUniversity of the Philippines. He is no stranger
to the ramifications of language, especially the narrative type, having attended a film workshop at the Mowelfund Film Institute after which he directed independent films and TV shows including Es, a 1988 video which won the Best Jury Prize at the Mondiale de la Video in Brussels, Belgium. An expressionist sort of filmmaker, his other short works, likewise possessing some resultant heaviness, include Tiempo and Trip, both produced by Mowelfund and both Best Short Film awardees at the Gawad Urian in 1992 and 1993, respectively. Still Lives, a pioneering digital film screened as an Official Selection at the 2000 Singapore International Film Festival, and ASTIGmatism, which won the Silver DV Award at the 28th Hong Kong International Film Festival in 2004, are some of his notable longer works. He has exhibited paintings and videos in various group shows and is one of the 25 recipients of the first Indie Bravo (presented in 2010), a Philippine Daily Inquirer tribute to independent filmmakers. His latest films, Pirata (2013) and Ginoong Maria (2018), also have political themes and are likewise commentaries on urban violence. The latter is available for free viewing on YouTube.
Raul G. Rodriguez, The Manila Haemorrhage Project, 2018, oil pastel on 23-ply newspaper construct, 22" x 45" lateral space occupied
Raul G. Rodriguez, Saan Ka Pupulutin (Pagkatapos ng Lahat ng Ito)?, 2019, oil pastel on 23-ply newspaper construct, 26" x 52" lateral space occupied
In RAUL G. RODRIGUEZ's entries to the show, the artist presents a part of the art explorations he is currently doing for his thesis for the
UP College of Fine Arts' Master of Fine Arts program. What we have here are shaped configurations, specifically handmade papier-mâché constructs using tabloid pages, which serve as his drawing/painting ground. The shapes form two scaled-down maps of Metro Manila. By his appropriation of both the tabloid page and the metropolis' familiar map shape, Rodriguez is able to narrate about the metropolis' having been both the centerstage of the fury of the Duterte government's war on drugs and, at the same time, its being "the metaphorical victim of its virulence." The textured tactile surfaces of the works depict the terrain of the land, but, when viewed from afar, also make the artpieces appear as organisms, microbes, perhaps even as "detached membranes being eaten alive by a governing entity supposedly mandated to administer justice and goodwill," says the artist. What else is appropriated here are the forces that deform human life, as contained in daily tabloid news, appropriated for a revelation of truth. The smaller work is entitled The Manila Haemorrhage Project while the bigger one is called Saan Ka Pupulutin (Pagkatapos ng Lahat ng Ito)? The latter title, says the artist, "plays with the idea of appropriation as an act of scavenging materials in order to import into one’s visual representation a catalyst element. On the other hand, this term also suggests the act of salvaging, a word corrupted during the Marcos regime to refer to summary executions being meted out on perceived enemies of the State to short-cut the process of justice which we now call extra-judicial killings. Where will we be found if the city itself has been thrown into the maelstrom of state-sponsored violence and political carnage?" Rodriguez is a Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate (batch 1984), major in Painting, of the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts in Diliman. His thesis show was an exhibition of paintings and constructed objects, held at the Vargas Museum. He worked as an animator in Burbank Animation and Fil-Cartoons for nine years. He also earned a master’s certificate at Alliance Biblical Seminary from 1995 to 2002 while serving as a church minister, a service that lasted for 17 years (1994-2011). As a pastor, Rodriguez organized an artist
collective and spearheaded ARTALK forums in the church that were open to the public. Even before earning his BFA, Rodriguez had already participated in numerous group exhibitions in various Metro Manila venues which included the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Sining Kamalig, Pinaglabanan Galleries, West Gallery, Finale Art File, Duemila Gallery, MO Space, and group shows abroad (Berlin, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore). He is currently pursuing a masters degree under the UPCFA MFA program. He is married to Addie Rodrigo-Rodriguez (UP BS Psychology graduate and UERMMC medicine graduate). His daughter Maura Isabel Rodriguez is currently the social media editor of Preview magazine. According to Rodriguez, his vision as an artist "is centered on what Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote in his book The Little Prince: 'What is essential is invisible to the eye.'" Apart from his art training under the tutelage of painter Benjie Cabangis and conceptual artist Roberto Chabet (who radicalized his art discipline and direction), his pursuit of visual meaning has also stemmed from his interest in avante-garde art, Dadaism, Neo-Expressionism, jazz music, rock music, history, politics, and spirituality. An epiphany in 1986 temporarily shifted his focus to seeking spiritual fulfillment in a local church to "serve the Lord." But "a rolling stone gathers no moss, so to speak, and thatâ€™s exactly what I am doing here," adds Rodriguez, "experimenting further with all possible means to make visible my experience of life and the dynamisms of the inner life grappling with the issues of the day. I am growing out of merely painting canvases and gravitating now towards irregularly-shaped art forms incorporating objects as well as interventions/interferences in actual space."
Deatail of Rodriguez's The Manila Hemorrhage Project construct
Angelo Valmoria Roxas, Fashion Business, 2019, acrylic on altered polyester cotton shirt, dimension of a standard-size XXL shirt with 20-foot sleeves
Meanwhile, for the piece Fashion Business, new exhibiting artist ANGELO VALMORIA ROXAS painted an image of an armless female mannequin on the front of a black XXL shirt and altered the
sleeves of that shirt to make them 20 feet long. The piece was placed high above the gallery wall, with the sleeves left hanging to reach the gallery floor. To Roxas, the image of the armless female mannequin here, even the image of real mannequins without arms who are also often without heads, can be used to allegorize the people in the fashion world who, although they have very useful physical arms, are actually defenseless as fashion-industry wage slaves, unseen, hidden from the lights that flood runways and display windows. In contrast, what they produce collectively pump up the giants (the higantes) of the industry and the holding companies that have control on policies, including labor policies. The artist here presents his own counter-higante carrying that blackest of industry truths. Roxas says that this is all personal to him, having started as a teenager in the shirt-printing business. He became designer Bobby Novenario's apprentice and tried to learn fashion design so that he could merge the artform with gallery art. His shirt-printing cottage business has since become his family's business, and his piece for Apropiacion is supposedly his intro piece to what he intends for his business in the future: wearable art pieces self-critical of the industry he wants to belong to. The female image in the piece may seem apt for this womenâ€™s month of March, considering that the majority of workers in this industry are female, . . . but we must be warned that women at the top of this industry may also be party to the oppression of their own gender in the industry's working class, while Roxasâ€”a man and alternative-fashion business ownerâ€”is one who wants to represent that working class' voice.
Brian Sergio, four Untitled pieces, 2014, acrylic on chromogenic print, all 36" x 24"
Four Untitled painted photographs by BRIAN SERGIO explore the concept of appropriation itself. Can one still be said to be appropriating when he "appropriates" his own works? And, what are the materials that would qualify as appropriated materials for the act of appropriation? Or, rephrased, what are the sort of materials that are accepted for the definition of appropriation and what cannot be? More specifically, if one can appropriate the urinal for the gallery space, can one appropriate paint itself for the photograph? Would that still be accepted in the art definition of appropriation? Yes, Sergio is appropriating his own photographs for these four "paintings". And these are photographs that themselves appropriate imagery from BDSM culture, a culture that in itself can be considered as full of its own traditions, even cliches, that appropriate conditions from sexual reality. Or one can reverse it. Sergio is appropriating painting for his photography. Furthermore, he is appropriating paint and the colors in paint for his colorless photography, recontextualizing his photograph's original monochrome. To Sergio, the painting act upon these photographs mimics a false representation, since one may not remember what were the original colors of the subjects and objects photographed in black and white.
Mimic, we said, because the painting process is here aping the artificiality of the photographs' black and white representation. The world is not black and white, after all. Hmm, and the same thing could be said about the work's sex subject/theme, can't it? Sergio (b. 1980) is a photographer, painter, and graphic designer. He studied painting at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts from 2002, trained as a painter and a conceptual artist, and had a few local group exhibitions between 2000 to 2008. He then worked as a graphic designer and art director for a couple of advertising firms before deciding to focus on photography full-time. His solo exhibitions as a photographer includes Pak! (2014) at Galerie Astra and Kidultery (2011) at West Gallery. Sergio's work has often been described as raw, transgressive, and irreverent. In the artist's words, his method has always been about "energy and movement, taking a gamble, getting involved, and going with the flow without diffidence." In 2017 he released his first book called Pak, published by Dienacht Publishing. The book was based on "a collective rebellion against inhibitions and acceptable behavior, an attempt to expose the world behind the faรงade that most Filipinos aspire to."
Clairelynn Uy, "this too shall pass", 2018, oil on canvas, 40" x 40"
Clairelynn Uy, "there's more to love", 2017, oil on canvas, 48" x 84"
CLAIRELYNN UY's "this too shall pass" appropriates the Barbie face to parody the smile on it. The work seems to push the smile as an apathetic response to the bad influence concerns hurled against the doll, which issue Uy here extends to the area of battered women. It's as if Uy is saying, if "beauty" and your anorexic look is all you would bother with, then it is likely that you would also have no stand on domestic violence perpetrated on you, along with the other issues listed as your bad influence on women and girls. Finally, Uy's piece "there's more to love" offers a humorous take on her not-so-thin Barbie variant, laying on the table the dictum of "more is more," apart from the other dictum that says "there's love beyond beauty, especially the beauty peddled by the fashion media or a sexist hegemony." :)
The online catalog of the 19 March - 5 April 2019 Apropiación show at J Studio, Pasillo 18, La Fuerza Plaza, 2241 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati...
Published on Mar 18, 2019
The online catalog of the 19 March - 5 April 2019 Apropiación show at J Studio, Pasillo 18, La Fuerza Plaza, 2241 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati...