They Speak To You By Association

6-27 AUG 2016

Exhibition Notes by Lisa Ito

Converging Contemporaries

This annual group exhibition brings together works by select Filipino artists working in painting, printmaking, mixed media and installation, casting a compact arc of contemporary expressions.

This year’s show features works by Felix Bacolor, Mariano Ching, RM de Leon, Jonathan Olazo, Yasmin Sison, and Trek Valdizno. Organised by de Leon, the show is a meeting of different art practices all connected by common affinities: unusual juxtapositions and configurations of forms, a certain sensitivity to scale, or the element of surprise or whimsy for instance.

Named after one of the paintings in the show, They Speak To You By Association alludes to how art makes possible a multiplicity of interpretations, connotations and explanations, continually susceptible to being referred to or associated with something else beyond itself. The individual works diverge in terms of directions and exploration, yet it is precisely this same state of unevenness that allows for a certain sense of playful yet productive tension, to take place within the exhibition.

De Leon harness the figurative nature of illustration, for instance, in a series of acrylic on paper works titled The Simplest Things Can Be The Most Difficult Task. Each work depicts an illustration of a hand offering small, simple bouquets, surrounded by a field of pure color: yellow, a color that simultaneously evokes elation and also caution. The optimistic soberness of de Leon’s work can be contrasted with Felix Bacolor’s sets of installation pieces, which as a humorous nod to the anxiety of present socio-political shifts. This balance between explorative play and formality is also seen in Ching’s mixed media contributions exploring the use of assemblage and silkscreen on black iron as a ground.

Mariano Ching / Hippity Hop / 2016 / Mixed media / 30 × 25 × 25 cm / 11.82 × 9.85 × 9.85 in

The seemingly polar natures of figuration and abstraction, on the other hand, are diffused and seamlessly merged within the exhibition. Yasmin Sison, for instance, offers The Still Room, an oil and encaustic work from her distinct series of figurative images, partially obscured by flat fields of color. Jonathan Olazo and Trek Valdizno, on the other hand, demonstrate the wide expressive possibilities of abstraction in two divergent ways. Valdizno’s massive foray into gestural abstraction offers a view of the power at work in the ghostly gestures of the hand, scaled to extraordinary proportions. On the other hand, Olazo’s series of abstractions centre on the aesthetics of scribbled and textural forms.

Whether encountered by the viewer as a formal or symbolic experience, the artworks in the show offer a glimpse of converging contemporary conditions. In this tension between abstraction and figuration, play and form, the exhibition underscores the connotative power and fluidity of both material and image. •

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