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Vertical and Horizontal Dreams
by Johanna Labitoria

Joe Bautista's comeback show slated at Galleria Duemila features twenty-six (26) paintings and two (2) installations, garnering his inspiration foremost from the architecture of Japanese self-educated architect Tadao Ando, born in Osaka, Japan in 1941. Joe Bautista takes the structural forms of the architect then dives into the realm of conceptualism

Joe Bau as he is commonly known, graduated with a degree in Advertising from the University of the East. In these new set of paintings, he utilizes a flat medium and is drawn to seemingly bright and eye-catching colors like in advertorial signages complete with different doodle elements that are meant to stun and hold your vision for much longer.

Inclined to the linear vertical capacities that human being has made, the young Joe Bau was drawn to the height of the walls that make up a building.

According to Masao Furuyama in a book entitled, Tadao Ando, published in 1996, geometry takes strictly ideal form and is the visible representation of a concept. Architecture operates on the same level as conceptualism in art in which an idea takes precedence over the actual aesthetic or material concern. The foundation in which Joe Bau has built his compositions are on the structural plans of Tadao Ando's significant projects like the Church of the Light in Osaka, the Theater on the Water in Hokkaido and the Museum of Wood in Hyogo, all located in the country of Japan

Abstract heights, a 4 x 3 ft work, are composed of rectangular shapes piled onto each other in a brown background, finished with organic, curvilinear elements resembling doodles of a child just learning to write on the guidelines on an elementary notebook, finishing a little bit off the grids. Piled high enough, just ending before the painting is demarcated, the gesture of upward stacking tickles the imagination of the artist, relating it to the grand structures that Tadao Ando has made. Viewing these forms in physical reality stimulates our consciousness and as a result, elicits emotion the way conceptual art elicits thought and intrigue.

Church of the light, one of the 26 paintings done in acrylic, is a fitting retribution of one of Ando's most striking minimalist works, with just a slit forming a cross that displays natural light in the daytime. Joe Bau utilizes an aluminum L-bar to emphasize the length of the form and to show the three-dimensionality of the work. The physical space fixates and draws to where natural light will enter the same way the artist has focused on utilizing an aluminum L-bar to capture the attention of the viewer.

A small pencil sketch of the plan on the upper left part of the painting Church on the water is a testament of the artist's natural sensibility to draw forms and giving into the creative flow. Organic shapes are continuously flowing without inhibition.

In Underground Landscapes I and II, he utilizes a fluorescent light with a thin film of doodle glued onto an opaque glass, allowing the viewer to look into an ubiquitous landscape, hidden yet significant, an otherwise playful and dynamic take on our upfront reality.

Joe Bautista welcomes the art of the accidental. He will flip, reverse, knock down or angle to the side certain forms to see what it would look like if not in a conventional way of seeing it. These can be referenced to the artist's early influence in architecture: Frank Gehry who in 1978 surrounded his own bungalow with corrugated steel and "split" it open with an angled skylight.

It is important to note the artist's history of conceptual art: the rooftop (Bubong) symbolizing Manila's slum districts originally made for the exhibition entitled, Five Contemporary Sculptors for the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 1979, the Frigidaire filled with bottles that has the face of the ostentatious Imelda Marcos plastered all over them that eventually gets frosted exhibited in K-Lahi in Fiesta Carnival in Cubao, Quezon City in 1974 in an exhibition entitled, Basta Hindi Ganon 'Yon (Translated to: That's not how it is) and finally, the patch of grass called The Bermuda Triangle accompanying an environmental commentary displayed in the preview exhibition of Pinaglabanan Galleries in 1984.

In a time of meandering in the 1960's-1970's, he has met his contemporaries such as Gus Albor, Lao Lianben and Red Mansueto in the university. Afterwards, he met Roberto "Bobby" Chabet, then Yola Johnson, Rodolfo Gan, Jose "Boy" Perez Jr. and Fernando Modesto. Together with Joy Dayrit, these aforementioned artists formed a group called the Shop 6. In 1972, Joe Bautista was eventually awarded the Thirteen Artists award along with Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi, Danilo Dalena, Johnny Manahan, Justin Nuyda, Romulo Olazo and Ibarra Dela Rosa just to name a few. It is succinct to note that art production at their time was experiencing a rebirth, a churning of ideas and a desire for information ready to be made into personal and social statements.

At present, in Vertical and Horizontal Dreams exhibition, Joe Bau has laid out his thoughts and aspirations on canvasses, allowing his background on conceptualism mix in with his advertising aesthetic. Joe Bautista's artistic production are composed of several frameworks that are inevitably intertwined yet uniquely played out, resulting into paintings and installations that are not to be taken on the superficial side but always in a three-dimensional depth, in both the literal and figurative sense.





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