Cool Memories/ Works on the Crystal Arcade

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With a curatorial proposal that appropriates the narrative potential of the space by diluting the protagonism of the works exposed, Cool Memories: Geronimo Cristobal is an exhibition that, paradoxically, transposes the essential and creative concept of the artist.

Contradictory in the beginning of his career due to the gross clumsiness of his colorful textures, Geronimo Cristobal (1986, Manila) has been transformed into an interesting creator of chromatic materials and forms. Inspired by the oriental Wabi-sabi aesthetic, Geronimo Cristobal has managed to fuse the imperfection, simplicity and roughness of certain processes and natural materials with a seductive beauty that is imposed by the emotional experientiality of color. Exalted by the texture that is seen and the symbolic references that are evoked, their chromatic surfaces become leading entities that, silently, link nature, humanity and transience. In his works, time does not exist. And even though there are visible testimonies of a very distant past – like lands of different environments and volcanic rocks – their cover-up and transformation turn the natural fragments into strange totemic presences.

Conceived by Romero Barragan (curator of the austere, spiritual and sculptural museum in Makati), the exhibition focuses on the comparison of the Anahuacalli with the interior of both an erupting volcano and a hypocaust-heating system in Roman antiquity-. Invaded in its stony and black interiors with various facilities that, through volcanic rocks glazed in red, orange and gold mean flows of lava or treasures found, the museum alternates its extraordinary collection of prehispanic pieces and its fascinating volcanic rock architecture with the Stones of sharp edges and small dimensions covered by the artist. With vertical brick installations that look like fragments of poles, Geronimo Cristobal refers to the hypocaust system. And in the outer spaces, in addition to their known and huge cubes of cooked clay that stand on top of each other, other cubes stand out, which, as if they were soft sculptures, pile up evoking the processes of melting a material.
Oscillating between the appropriation of nature and its human transformation into an object of strange, useless and artificial beauty, the exhibition Cool Memories: Geronimo Cristobal does not respect the elemental origin of the natural. On the contrary, it refers to the human need to possess, intervene and interpret it through different ideas and processes that, in the artist’s case, seduce by the elegant and emotive expressiveness of an order that symbolically refers to its forms, accidents and chromatisms To an origin.

Consisting mainly of rocks, the sample exhibits very few two dimensions. Among them, a splendid material composition in grays and blacks that remember the Japanese technique of kintsugi, which consists in repairing the broken ceramics, turning the unions into attractive drawings.

This text was published in the edition 2015 Catalogue, Cool Memories – Jose Victor Fuentes

Luis Gordillo’s fixation

Text below was translated from La fijación de Luis Gordillo by Margot Molina from the 16 Oct 2014 edition of El Pais. I recently bought a book catalogue of his retrospective at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) last week and noticed that his works echo the same painterly concerns of several Filipino artists working in the contemporary art scene. This is a preliminary attempt at uncovering a connection or circumstantial similarities in the milieu of Spain and the Philippines that influenced its painters working in a certain period.

Luis Gordillo, photographed before his work 'Is this the future?' / LAURA LEÓN
Luis Gordillo, photographed before his work ‘Is this the future?’ / LAURA LEÓN. From EL PAIS (No copyright infringement intended)

An exhibition in Seville traces the obsession to paint heads that the artist developed in the 1960s when he began to employ psychoanalysis.

At the age of 80, anyone would think that Luis Gordillo is retreating from everything and will now worked locked in a bubble, without the need of the rest of the world. Nothing more is further from reality because the father of pop-art in Spain and influence of several generations of artists is a sponge that absorbs everything and translates it into his own language. Gordillo has not lost an iota of curiosity that has transformed him into one of the best Spanish artists of the second half of the twentieth century. This is evident in hisin Cabezas, the exhibition that opened Thursday (October 2014) in Seville.

The exhibition, which can be seen at the Real Alcázar until 9 January 2015, brings together 55 works (many of them multiple so that a total of 123 pieces are shown) made between 1956 and 2014.

“When I got into pop art, in 1963, all I did were heads. The subject appears and disappears throughout the years, as a feet or a tail can also appear, but curiously I always return to painting heads. I suppose this comes from my interest in psychoanalysis, which I started in Madrid in 1963 and I have done for 40 years, although with interruptions,” reflects Luis Gordillo (Seville, 1934) before one of the series of the sample: Cabecitas Expressionistas, 2003-2010).

“But psychoanalysis creates a dangerous dependence, that someone listening to you is nice and I’ve always had a lot to tell. I could spend hours pulling the thread and I suppose that certain levels that has reached my work come from there, “says Gordillo, who a decade ago showed in his city his first steps as an artist through 150 works in Pre-Gordillo goes to Paris .

The exhibition begins with drawings from the late 50’s, most of which belong to the artist’s brothers, although the strong core of the exhibition, curated by his brother José Manuel Gordillo – from whom he started the idea of ​​gathering the heads – and Luis Montiel, are pieces from the sixties and seventies. The gouache work, Cabeza de Santiago (1963) and the drawing, Self-portrait with Jose (1963) are exhibited for the first time and several paintings in the 60 works presented have not been shown for decades.

In the Hall of the Alcázar Apeadero, which has almost tripled its exhibition space thanks to the intervention of the study of the architect Frade, you can see fundamental works in the trajectory of the artist as the acrylic work, Cabeza Macho (1973) and the diptych Trio gris y vinagre ( 1976), both loaned by the Foundation Suñol of Barcelona. Although more than half of the pieces belong to the artist’s collection, the stunning polyptic series Luna (1977) belongs to the Reina Sofía Art Center in Madrid.

The exhibition brings together works from 1956 to 2014, including some early unpublished drawings

“When I abandon figurative references, it seems to me that the head is no longer enough and I begin to dive into deeper levels, to penetrate the brain,” says the artist thoughtfully, almost as if he had returned to a session of psychoanalysis, therapy that he abandoned A decade ago, to explain the genesis of much of its production in the 1990s.

In Superyo Frozen, a large exhibition organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA) in 1999, many of the works were diptychs that resembled a sectioned brain. “It was like entering the inside of the head and capturing its rhythms,” adds Gordillo, the creator of a colorful and attractive “mental map”, as he defines it.

Cabezas, organized by the Seville City Council with the sponsorship of the La Caixa Foundation and the Cajasol Foundation, welcomes the visitor with three great prints by Melchor Voyeur in blue, green and purple, the same motif that served in 2007 to cover The Roman bridge of Cordoba during its restoration. And it shows how this obsession with the heads does not belong to the past with several recently dated works. The last work, Is this the future?, is an acrylic on canvas made this year in which the face, possibly the artist’s own, flattens like If it were a rubber mask on a succession of planes.

“Now I am still very open, because to maintain many things at the same time takes a lot of energy and there are days when it seems that my head breaks. Before I could develop many themes intellectually at the same time, now not so much “, confesses the Gordillo. And with a smile assures that it is his feminine side that has allowed him to multitask; Although his wife, Pilar Linares, helps him. “She is 50% of what is here, perhaps even 60%. She works a lot and is my absolute partner,” he concludes.

Noynoy Aquino’s “good faith” and the death of 44 soldiers

Noynoy during the funeral for SAF 44. Source: GMA NEWS TV, no copyright infringement intended.
President Noynoy during the funeral for SAF 44. Source: GMA NEWS TV, no copyright infringement intended.

In a statement, the Liberal Party said the former president’s actions relating to the incident were “imperatives in good faith to advance the cause of justice and peace” in the restive south.

Even if PNP Director General Alan Purisima was in suspension during the time of the operation, anyone in Noynoy’s shoes would’ve taken heed of his advise given that he was on the case for longer than any General. Anyone would’ve done so just to cover all the bases. That being said, it is still wrong and in fact potentially criminal to continue working with a suspended government official but there’s a good alibi there for Aquino. Contrary to arguments of ignorance over military movements, it seems that the former President was actually well-informed and even offered substantial inputs into the operation. It will be important to know why Roxas and Espina were kept out of the loop while they are in the chain-of-command, because if we follow this alibi, then wouldn’t the opinion of the DILG and the OIC also matter? Wouldn’t it be part of “good faith” or are we missing something here? The nation hasn’t quite healed from the death of its 44 elite soldiers and this is evident the way our fellow citizens now take more notice of the death count in every battle and tragedy. We all want the truth to come out before any understanding and forgiveness can ensue. I believe though, that the President never wished his own soldiers to die in battle, after all he called well-trained SAF, not boy scouts. The Ombudsman is undoubtedly right in dismissing the homicide case while endorsing the criminal negligence case. The court trial is the best venue to explain and finally put a closure on this case.

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The case of usurpation of authority was filed against Aquino for allowing then suspend Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima to participate in the planning of the operation against Marwan.

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/913982/aquino-reaping-bad-karma#ixzz4mr1tF8WK

Return to the mental caves to recover inner images

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“Human life is nothing more than a picture, blessed with images. The human life is cursed and it is only in pictures that we are able to grasp it, the pictures are untraceable, they have been with us since the beginning of human existence; they are earlier and more powerful than our thinking; they are in a timeless space where the past and the future are intertwined and they are more powerful than us.”
– Hermann Broch, “The Death of Virgil”, own translation)

The petroglyphs of Angono in the province of Rizal are the oldest known stone engravings in the Philippines. The carvings were first documented by acclaimed Philippine painter Carlos Francisco in 1965 while he was leading a Boy Scout troop on a hike. Little else is known about the figures, or the people who etched them. One clue is that many of the human carvings appear to be in a squatting position, which has led scientists to theorize that the area was a place of worship. The engravings are under a massive rock projection. A total of more than 127 human and animal figures cover the rock wall over a length of 25 meters and a height of 3.7 meters.

The petroglyphs are not connected to each other, which suggests that they were made at different times. Their origins date anywhere from 2000 to 3000 years ago. A remarkable, perhaps not entirely accidental, occurrence is the proximity of the engravings to today’s cities of Laguna, Angono and Binangonan, which are known for their craft and wood carvings.

A few kilometers away from Manila in the capital of the Philippines, where I lived, I went there on a side trip and found, lamentably, that the carvings are nothing more than traces and shadows of what Carlos Francisco documented in 1965.

The mountains, about 90 minutes’ drive from Manila, were an entirely forested area. But most of the trees have since been felled to make way for the country’s fast-growing population, with a holiday resort, a golf course and upper-class housing development now surrounding the rock wall.

A real estate developer owns the land on which the petroglyphs are located. He has donated the hillside on which the carvings are located back to the National Museum. He allowed only a small buffer zone, though, and the road runs just 10 meters (33 feet) from the carvings. Wind and rain, as well as plant roots creeping through the stone, have also damaged the soft rock where the carvings are etched. The poorly funded National Museum cannot afford to pay for adequate security so vandalism is also a constant worry. People have scrawled their names on the rock and there are slash marks on some carvings that archaeologists have determined were only made recently. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) placed the petroglyphs on its “tentative list” of world heritage sites but that has done little to stem the powerful tide of neglect. Mining at a nearby gravel pit a few years ago also shook the ancient site. The foundations of the rock wall continue to face more threats of destruction.

The Angono Petroglyphs, which evoke the sensibilities of the primitive always present in the shadows of Philippine contemporary or neo-expressionist art making, remind us that a linear art history perspective is a limited and distorted view. In a lecture at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore, I’ve talked about the evolution of the Filipino’s artistic sensibilities. In that lecture, I emphasized the devices of contemporary artists who could go anywhere in this line of evolution to fork into another path. I have often thought that, it does not matter where I start painting, the best painters always have the earliest cave and rock drawings in their minds.

Since I began painting, I’ve always been aware of the unique situation that presents itself in the act of visual representation: that like the natural or intended palimpsests in the petroglyphs of Angono, where the voice of various people over long periods in time meld into a single artistic tableau, there is more than one voice speaking in the work. I have often confused the voices with the work but I am well aware that the notion of the creation of the work and its creator can change in art history, that when nature and human destruction creeps in, that all things return to just being artifacts with little importance given to the individual creator but rather to the kind of people and culture that spawned the creation.

Despite and because of this realization, I have never attempted to divide the voices; on the contrary I have always sought to unify the different discourses animating the images. The ultimate coherence of these discourses, though, is not necessary and is definitely not the goal of my work.

My works develop mainly from the knowledge and mastery of tradition on one hand and an epistemic confrontation with the image on the other. Both turn on the problems of perception of the form, particularly of appropriation and how we reference the world outside the work of art.

When I am painting, my preoccupation with tradition first manifests itself in what we will call here as “pre-images”: objects of knowledge that serve as a starting point for a more in depth, critical occupation with certain pictorial conventions and ideas. Painting for me thus begins as an act of critical application, rather than as an intuitive process of expressive fertility. This allows me to be more objectively productive, in other words, to practice a reasoned creativity.

While it may seem basic, there is something oppressively daunting in the endless pursuit of clever image strategies. And the successful form, the one that I would own, would be the paradoxical result of an exercise in humility: tracing the movements of tradition in the piles of ideas it has left behind.
I am very concerned with the notion of the “artistic” because I emphasize critical reflection in my process and, along with this, locating inner artistic actions and reactions against the environment within which I work. In this light, I try to be careful about quoting styles as mere appearances. I would like to think that there is something beyond them than the history of art. But, I’m always restrained by the question, what doesn’t fall under the scope of the history of art?

The full text of “Return to the mental caves to recover inner images” will appear in the accompanying publication to the exhibition “Paintings After Compositions” on July 31, 2017. 

Paintings After Compositions, by Geronimo Cristobal, CSCVA 2017, 550 Php, 35 pages. 

Konstitusyunal pero palpak ang pagdedeklara ng Martial Law

Marawi terrorists
MAUTE GROUP. Residents take photos of suspected members of the Maute Group from their house windows. Photo by Mohammad Manshawi (from Rappler.com). No copyright infringement intended.

Talagang bulag ang hustisya at tanging ebidensya at legalidad lamang ang tinitingnan. Maari nating igawad kay Pangulong Digong Duterte na legal ang kanyang pagdedeklara ng Martial Law. Legal man, dapat tayong mabalaan na hindi ibig sabihin na makatuturan at marapat itong ideklara dahil hindi ito sensitibo sa ala-ala ng bayan.

Hindi bulag ang kasaysayan.

Kasaysayan ang nagtuturo sa atin na walang naipanalong digmaan ang pagdedeklara ng Martial Law. Walang nasugpong kalaban ng estado dahil sa Martial Law. Dahil pa nga sa Martial Law, lalong tumapang at dumami ang mga kalaban ng estado. Marami ang mga dating humihingi lamang ng reporma ang naging radikal at umanib sa underground.

Hindi ako sang-ayon sa teorya na maaring “ilimita ang Martial Law sa Marawi o sa Mindanao”. Ang Martial Law ay idinedeklara lamang ng Pangulo na nanganganib sa isang rebelyon o pag-atake ng dayuhang kalaban. Samakatuwid, sa pagdedeklara nito, inaamin din ng pangulo na hindi kaya ng kanyang regular na kapangyarihan at ng Hukbong Sandatahan ang puwersa at banta ng rebelyon o pag-atake. Bakit idedeklara ang Martial Law kung hindi naman buong bansa o ang luklukan ng kapangyarihan ang inaatake?

Pagkakatiwalaan ba natin ang isang pangulo na praning? Magpapaputok na agad makarinig lang ng kaluskos sa damuhan? KUNG TUTUUSIN, walang nagawa ang Martial Law kundi hatiin ang opinyon ng bayan sa pagkilos ng militar sa Marawi. KUNG TUTUUSIN, Sinayang ni Pangulong Duterte ang ginintuang pagkakataon na pagkaisahin ang buong bayan laban sa mga terorista at paunlaring muli ang pabagsak na popularidad. Mismong si Solicitor General Calida ang nagsabi na walang binibigay na “bagong legal na kapangyarihan” ang Martial Law. Kung gayon, wala pala itong silbi. Sintomas lamang ng isang palpak na pamamalakad ng gobyerno at kamangmangan sa estratehiyang politikal.

Walang duda na dahil sa pagdedeklara ng Martial Law taong 2017, lalo lamang nating pinasikat ang mga teroristang pumuputakte sa ating bayan. (Narecognize tuloy ng ISIS) Hindi katanggap-tanggap ang mungkahi ng isang engot na huwes ng Korte Suprema “na ibalik ang kalis sa kaluban,” at “tumigil muna upang ilibing ang mga patay, at isantabi ang ating mga pagkakaiba”. Talaga namang isasantabi na ang pagkakaiba ng mga Dutertard at mga Dilawan, ng mga CPP-NPA at ng AFP, kung hindi lang sa pagdedeklara ng Martial Law.

Maigi kung naging mahusay ang militar at gobyerno sa pangangalaga ng karapatang pantao ng ordinaryong mamayan pero dahil nga sa palpak ang rekord ng militar kung kaya hindi natin sila dapat pagkatiwalaan ng labis na kapangyarihan at mismong AFP na ang nagsasabi na kahit walang Martial Law ay kaya nilang gawin ang kanilang trabaho.

Mababatid natin sa kasaysayan na ang karahasan ng Martial Law ay pinakamalala sa inosenteng sibilyan. Nagluluksa pa rin ang pamilya ng mga biktima ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao sa ilalim ng Martial Law at nagtitiis sa baryang inabuloy ng mga nakaraang administrasyon at heto na naman tayo. Bakit sa administrasyon ni Digong Duterte pawang mga ugok na may amnesiya ang naluluklok sa puwesto dito sa ating bayan?

Higit sa katuwirang walang kuwenta at walang silbi ang Martial Law, higit sa katuwirang winaldas lamang nito ang salapi ng bayan at inaksaya ang oras ng Korte Suprema at ng taong bayan, (dahil talaga namang nasa kapangyarihan na ng pangulo na tawagin ang militar at labanan ang mga teroristang ito), ang pagtutol ko sa Martial Law ay nasa katuwirang kinakalmot lamang nito ang mga sugat ng nakaraan na sana’y matagal nang pinaghihilom ng isang sambayanang natuto na sa mga leksyon ng Kasaysayan.

Paintings After Compositions at the University of Santo Tomas Museum

KIM NIMROD CRUZ/ GERONIMO CRISTOBAL

Paintings After Compositions/
Compositions After Paintings

The University of Santo Tomas Museum is pleased to announce Compositions after Paintings/ Paintings after Compositions, a musical recital by Kim Nimrod Cruz and an exhibition of new works by Geronimo Cristobal. This is Cristobal’s third solo exhibition and Kim Nimrod Cruz’s second composition recital.

Both the recital and the exhibition focus on a selection of recent works. Cristobal’s works are from an ongoing series in which he uses images captured from newspaper archives on the internet printed with an HP LaserJet Enterprise M606x printer. The paintings will be displayed as a backdrop to the musical performance of Kim Nimrod Cruz‘s compositions and will be on view from 9 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. The musical piece specifically created after the paintings will only be performed at high noon lasting until three in the afternoon.

Kim Nimrod Cruz’s compositions are influenced by the avant-garde movements in music: specifically the indeterminacy and non-standard use of musical instruments by John Cage and Wagner’s concept of subordinating individual arts to a common purpose in his essays on “Gesamtkunswerk” in Art and Revolution (1849). In “Noir”, a piece for a prepared piano, Cruz essays notions of “darkness” and “composition”, inspired by the dynamics of a musical performance and conventions observed between performers and audiences in a dark theatre.

 

Cristobal’s decollages are derived from journalistic images of police violence during the First Quarter Storm. In other works, he superimposed protest flyers over reworked collages by Kurt Schwitters. Cristobal points to the German Dadaist famous for his Merz Pictures, in his ‘Psychological Decollage’. Like Schwitters, his works attempt to make coherent aesthetic sense of the world around him using fragments of found objects and images on the internet.

 

The paintings and collages are treated like “time capsules” imbued with the bold, dynamic history in the lens of avant-garde movements. The works illustrate collapsed space and time, in which distant worlds and cultures merge with politically charged mythos.

For press inquiries, please contact Julia Enriquez at alleynejulia.enriquez@benilde.edu.ph, or call +639952125498 and 2305100 local 1528

 

Ang “Female Oblation”

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Ang katotohanan nauna ang “Triumph of Science over Death” o “Scientia” na nilikha ni Rizal noong 1890 bilang regalo kay Blumentritt kaysa sa Oblation. Madalas din itong tawaging “Triumph of Science over Ignorance”. Nakatungtong siya sa isang bungo na simbolo ng kamatayan at may hawak na sulo na simbolo ng karunungan. Pinakaprominenteng replica ang nasa tapat ng Calderon Hall ng UP Manila. Kung hindi ako nagkakamali una itong itinirik noong 1924. (Makikita mo itong bahagyang nakakubli sa likod ng bakod ‘pag napadaan sa kalye ng Pedro Gil). Ang UP Oblation ay itinayo noong 1935 ni Guillermo Tolentino. MAHALAGANG SABIHIN NA mula sa pag-aambag ng mga estudyante ng UP noong panahong iyon ang pondong ginamit para matayo ang oblation. Hindi ito effort ng administrasyon na may kuwestiyonableng panlasa sa sining. Magkatuwang ang dalawang rebulto, si “Scientia” at “Oblation” dahil pareho silang may pagtanaw sa mahigit tatlong daang taon ng pananakop ng mga Kastila. Pansinin ang sukat at komposisyon para malaman kung paano. Kung hindi ako nagkakamali (dahil ‘di ko na mahagilap kung saan ko nabasa) ginawa ni Tolentino ang Oblation bilang reaksyon sa o inspirado ng eskultura ni Rizal (Gumawa pa ng maliit na replica si Tolentino ng Scientia na makikita sa National Museum). Makakabuti sa mga magtatangkang sumunod sa yapak ni Tolentino at Rizal sa paggawa ng panibagong simbolo ng pambansang unibersidad na balikan ang sariling kasaysayan. Retrato ni: Migo Dupio mula sa Flickr

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The inspiration for the Oblation can be found in the second stanza of Rizal’s Mi Ultimo Adios. (Talagang base sa mga gawa ni Rizal ang Oblation at maaring nagtake-off sa “Scientia”)

Sinulat ni UP Professor Guillermo Tolentino ang ibig sabihin ng kanyang nilikha nang malinaw. Nakatungtong ang oblation sa mga batong representasyon ng arkipelago ng Pilipinas at sa halaman ng katakataka na may “roots tightly implanted in Philippine soil” (HINDI LUTANG KAGAYA NG KAY CACNIO.) Ewan kung bakit hindi na nakasayad sa lupa ang “oblation” ni Cacnio. Taliwas ito sa imahe ng iskolar ng bayan na kinatha ni Tolentino. Pakiramdam ko na parang imbento lamang ang konsepto at nauna ang “gimik” na gumawa ng nakalutang na eskultura.

“The completely nude figure of a young man with outstretched arms and open hands, with tilted head, closed eyes and parted lips murmuring a prayer, with breast forward in the act of offering himself, is my interpretation of that sublime stanza. It symbolizes all the unknown heroes who fell during the night. The statue stands on a rustic base, a stylized rugged shape of the Philippine archipelago, lined with big and small hard rocks, each of which represents an island. The “katakataka” (wonder plant) whose roots are tightly implanted on Philippine soil, is the link that binds the symbolized figure to the allegorical Philippine Group. “Katakataka” is really a wonder plant. It is called siempre vivo (always alive) in Spanish. A leaf or a piece of it thrown anywhere will sprout into a young plant. Hence, it symbolizes the deep-rooted patriotism in the heart of our heroes. Such patriotism continually and forever grows anywhere in the Philippines.”

 

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MAY MGA NAGSASABING HINDI RAW “FEMALE OBLATION” ANG ESKULTURA NI G. CACNIO, KUNG GANOON, ANO ANG SILBI NITO SA UP CAMPUS? KUNG GANOON PALA, WALA ITONG PINAGKAIBA SA FIGURINE NA NALILIGAW SA MESA NG KUNG KANINO. TYPICAL NA SCULPTURE NA PARANG MADE IN CHINA. Maaring hindi tinangka ni Napoleon Abueva na lumikha ng female version ng oblation sa kanyang “Magdangal” pero wala na sa artist ang pagbibigay ng koneksyon, nasa mismong espasyong kanyang pinaglalagyan nagmumula ang kabuluhan ng isang public sculpture. KUNG GANUN, HINDI RIN BA AWARE SI CACNIO NA loaded ang “nude female form” sa kasaysayan ng public sculptures sa loob ng UP? DAHIL NA NGA MISMO SA OBLATION?Wala ba talaga siyang sense ng saliksik at reflexivity para hindi malaman ang mga bagay-bagay na ito? HINDI AKO NANINIWALA.

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Kaya nga nakakagulat na sa kabila ng dami ng nauna at kasabay ng eskulturang “UPLIFT” dinismiss lang ito at sinabing “Hindi ko kilala si Elisabet” “Di ko alam ang Virgins of Apeldoorn” at “di pa ko nakakapunta sa Netherlands” ni G. Cacnio. Mas malala ang sinabing “product of my own imagination” niya ito dahil para bang nagising siya isang umaga at naka-install na sa utak niya ang ideya para sa UPLift. Ngayon ay parang itinatanggi na rin na tinangka ito bilang “female version” ng oblation samantalang alam naman ng lahat na loaded ang anumang paglalagay ng nude form, female o male sa loob ng UP Campus dahil hindi maiiwasang maikumpara ito sa Oblation ni Guillermo Tolentino. Mas lalong nagmumukhang tanga kung pati ito ay itatanggi pa. Ano ‘yun, walang awareness sa precedents o sa konsepto ng site-specificity o sa characteristics ng public sculpture?

 

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By accounts of his daughter, here are some thinking points: How can “UPLift” be inspired by the Oblation if it was initially made for a group show on the theme of the “Levitation” in 2007? Logically, “Inspiration” comes before and during the creation of the work. So was the “inspiration” just an afterthought after the work was recreated? So its now inspired by the Oblation because it was going to be reconstructed in UP? This is really strange. I believe though that Mr. Ferdinand Cacnio is not a plagiarist, since it is almost impossible to plagiarize anything in the visual arts. Artists copy and get inspiration from anyone and anywhere. What is strange to me is that despite the “very common theme” of “levitating nude bodies”, Mr. Ferdinand Cacnio insists, and many of his apologists insists that he thought of it “on his own”. He’s on social media, did he not google or research precedents? That is simply not how artists, especially from UP are trained. We all work within a tradition. Professional artists are expected to be aware of other artists and other art works especially those within his table of conversation. On top of this, we shouldn’t be so bothered to know the “intentions” of the artist. The interpretation of audiences is not less valuable. If they think its “sexualized” then that is a valid layer of meaning to the work, given that it was displayed inside a university campus and not in the business district of BGC. The locus and milieu of the work is part of the meaning of any public sculpture and one cannot insist that a sculpture be seen similarly by any two people in two different occasions and locations.. My critique is directed on the work and the process of the sculptor. https://www.facebook.com/bianca.cacnio/posts/10209622737432908?hc_location=ufi

 

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After we’ve seen so many copies of something over so many years, we’re not all experts who can stand before an original and understand it. It takes our breath away. Therefore, without the existence of copies, we wouldn’t understand originals. – From the movie “Certified Copy” by Abbas Kiarostami

On Hermann Broch, The Death of Virgil

“…he knew of the innermost danger of all artists, he knew the utter loneliness of the man destined to be an artist, he knew the inherent loneliness which drove such a one into the still deeper loneliness of art and into the beauty that cannot be articulated, and he knew that for the most part such men were shattered by this immolation, that it made them blind, blind to the world, blind to the divine quality in the world and in the fellow-man, that–intoxicated by their loneliness–they were able to see only their own god-likeness, which they imagined to be unique, and consequently this self-idolatry and its greed for recognition came more and more to be the sole content of their work–, a betrayal of the divine as well as of art, because in this fashion the work of art became a work of un-art, an unchaste covering for artistic vanity, so spurious that even the artist’s self-complacent nakedness which it exposed became a mask; and even though such unchaste self-gratification, such dalliance with beauty, such concern with effects, even though such an un-art might, despite its brief unrenewable grant, its inextensible boundaries, find an easier way to the populace than real art ever found, it was only a specious way, a way out of the loneliness, but not, however, an affiliation with the human community, which was the aim of real art in its aspiration toward humanity, no, it was the affiliation with the mob, it was a participation in its treacherous non-community, which was incapable of the pledge, which neither created nor mastered any reality, and which was unwilling to do so, preferring only to drowse on, forgetting reality, having forfeited it as had un-art and literarity, this was the most profound danger for every artist; oh how painfully, how very painfully he knew this.” – Hermann Broch, The Death of Virgil

Joseph Tecson’s Millenial Classicism

18671326_428938450812117_666755962949987617_nReview of Joseph Tecson’s ‘Abstracts’ at Art Undeground Gallery

Joseph Tecson’s paintings, like those of other young Filipino painters exhibited and recognized internationally, perfectly capture a prediction made by Jürgen Habermas in 1980. In a famous lecture, Habermas talked about postmodernism in relation to the “incomplete project” of modernity: that, notwithstanding its claim of a complete and absolute break, the postmodern condition faces the same set of unresolved problems that can only lead to the return of history, if not the return of “modernism.” Habermas’ note of dissent—delivered at the height of postmodernism’s critical vitality—helps us situate the concerns of contemporary art, particularly Tecson’s gravitation towards abstraction in light of society and politics today.

Tecson’s current work follows the logical progression of his pictorial successes. The particular material references of his current monochromatic creations give his works a degree of accumulated intensity that is as palpable as in his figurative works: grave and confining.

Tecson’s emphasis on the material is reminiscent of the concerns of painters of an earlier era whose entire body of work was anchored in the use of a particular medium or a technique. Tecson merges the artistic oil medium with industrial resins and metals. His manipulation of the specialized medium gives his paintings a timeless air which his chromatic surfaces convey with a sense of millennial classicism.

More than other artists of his generation, Joseph Tecson combines European pictorial traditions with the forms of aesthetic experience rooted deeply in the art scene of the post-war, which undoubtedly influences the understanding of his work; at the same time, it connects with Southeast Asian aesthetic currents with which it shares the evident sensitivity for the use and exploration of the material and the taste for the unexpected and accidental.

From this perspective, his work suggests two opposing reflections. The first would be to perceive his work as linked to an artistic line indebted to the sophisticated artistic conceptions that emerged in 1960s-70s Manila (primarily Lao Lianben and also Fernando Zobel, Lee Aguinaldo, et al.), by ignoring contemporary developments and returning to more traditional pictorial notions. A second perspective, would lead us to a vision of his work as an unstable and hermetic project. Both views are somewhat positively justified since we are able to see vital pulses in contemporary art triggered by what happens in Joseph Tecson’s paintings.

In his paintings, modern art seems to go back on itself and reconsider its fundamental principles, as if the basic foundations of abstraction had been subjected to a new critical analysis, emphasizing the autonomous valuation of matter and color or lack of it.

Musing about abstract paintings, Jurgen Habermas asks what gives a roughly painted surface of canvas, which has been stretched over a frame, such sensual power?

In the vein of Habermas’s reflections, the answer we can find in Tecson is somewhat solemn: The paintings appeal to the viewer’s intuition, rather than his intellect. His focus is directed at the interplay between coarse monochromes that emerge from a repertoire involving contrast, variation, and repetition and its breakdown. There is a dynamism that is full of tension. The two dimensional painting syntax is undermined and rendered irrelevant. There is a sense of intimacy: as if the paintings demand to be felt rather than merely seen. Description becomes a nuisance.

That is the sensation that the work of Joseph Tecson produces. We have the feeling that for the artist, painting is an isolated matter filled with tangible silences.

Joseph Tecson (b.1985) learned to paint on his own during this period of incarceration (2008 – 2012). By the time he had been acquitted of the charges, Tecson had already participated in a number of art exhibitions including his first solo show at Mag:Net Gallery Katipunan in Quezon City titled “Inmates,” which featured 50 portraits of detainees and convicts from Quezon City Jail where he was imprisoned. After holding five solo exhibitions in various art galleries, he mounted the exhibition “Inmates + Outmates” in 2014 at WhiteSpaceBlackBox, Switzerland, where inmate portraits were exhibited alongside portraits of members from members of high society. Joseph Tecson lives and works in Manila, Philippines.

Joseph Tecson: Abstracts opened at Art Underground, Balagtas St. Mandaluyong 1550, Metro Manila, Philippines, last Saturday 27th of May 2017.

How revolutionary is the revolution?

Walter Benjamin’s Critique of Violence

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Walter Benjamin’s passport photo in 1928

At first sight, the question of violence from the left is easy to answer. Anyone who has ever been a tenant with rent in arrears, anybody who has organized a demonstration, knows that the liberal state is also using violence to protect social inequality. Why, in view of this, should the subordinates, the subalterns, determine the freedom of violence? Insurgent violence may not always be smart, but it certainly does not lack legitimacy.

For Walter Benjamin, however, there is an objection which one should know when dealing with the question.

The essay “On the Critique of Violence” was published in 1921, at a time when Benjamin was more influenced by Marxism in a leftist manner, and is one of the few explicit political texts of the cultural theorist. Benjamin discusses the relationship between violence, justice and justice. For this purpose, he first outlines what the two great schools of law theory have to say about the subject: For nature – law students, the The application of violence for just ends does not pose a problem. According to Benjamin, violence is “the raw material of history” – an unavoidable means of enforcing justice.

The problem with this argument is obvious: the discourse of revolutionary left is hardly distinguishable from the authoritarian right. The Bush, Blair and Cheneys also justified their campaigns, pointing out that in the fight against terror all means, including open terrorism, such as abduction and torture, were unavoidable.

On the other hand, legal positivism, as the second major theory tradition, has always emphasized that a concept as fuzzy as “justice” can not serve as the basis of legal orders. It is true that juridical positivism is by no means blind to righteousness, but in the narrower sense the question arises whether something is legally constituted. It is not decisive whether violence serves a “just purpose”, but whether it is exercised within the law.

An example: If, as in the case of natural law, only the “just purpose” were concerned, it would be irrelevant whether a murderer is punished by the power of the state or a Lynch mob. Both would serve the “just purpose”. Legal positivism, on the other hand, proceeds from the contrary: it is decisive whether the persons who are punishable are also entitled to do so. The result can be quite identical: some state legal systems also address death. But the killing by the judiciary is – unlike that of the Lynchmob – legally constituted.

Benjamin, however, accuses the two legal theories of sharing a common basic dogma: Both consider that just ends can be achieved by just means, and vice versa, justified means can be used for just ends. But what if this is wrong? If the means of violence and the purpose of justice are incompatible?

Benjamin refers here to the remarkable circumstance that for the liberal state not the violence as such presents a problem, but the exercise by unauthorized persons. In order to understand this more precisely, Benjamin discusses a form of violence that the state just tolerates: the strike. Now it can be argued that the strike is less a means of violence than a form of refusal. However, it can be said that the strike is a very militant means of countering its own interests. Strangely enough, according to Benjamin, this campaign is legal if it forces the entrepreneurs to do something concrete, eg wage increases, but illegally, if it threatens to overthrow the government. This example shows that not the means is the problem, but the intentions pursued with it.

In a further step, which is based on the international constitutional law, whose origins go back to the question of how the result of warfare can be a “state of peace”, Benjamin then develops his core thesis: violence and justice are inseparable , Whereby the violence has two basic functions: Either it acts as a right-wing or right-wing . The right-wing violence as expressed in the police, the judiciary or, in the most extreme way, in the death penalty does not fulfill the task of preventing the citizens from concrete crimes. It is, on the contrary, a demonstration of power, by which, without a word, the remnant and the essence of the law are recalled: the power set by force.

Remarkably, at the same time, Carl Schmitt has developed an almost identical thesis – albeit in the opposite direction. The authoritarian state theorist, who was to become a Nazi jurist in the 1930s, in his writings “The Dictatorship” and “Political Theology” derives the right from the violence. Where there is no order, according to Schmitt’s credo, there is no right; And order was again created violently. This is the core of the famous Schmittian decisionism : the right decision is found in the interior of the law: the enforcement of an order, which must be defended in all situations, even in crisis situations.

While, however, Schmitt is concerned with proving the legitimacy of dictatorship and the state of exception, the same combination of law and violence is the abyss for Benjamin. There is dark emptiness in the interior of the liberal constitutional state. For violence is the real center of gravity of law.

The dramatic aspect of Benjamin’s reasoning is that this connection is also true of revolutionary violence. It, too, establishes a state of order which does not lose the Cain time of arbitrariness. This gives Benjamin a kind of pendulum movement between the functions of violence. Since the right-wing violence can not shake off its wrongdoing, it provokes rebellious reactions that attempt to set a new right. But this means that revolutionary violence is not in a position to leave the circle of rule and insurrection.

Even if Benjamin does not mention the young Russian revolution at this point, these paragraphs read like a prophetic prediction of the state socialist history. For the development of the revolutions can be interpreted as such a pendulum movement: the right-wing, ultimately arbitrary revolutionary power immediately left the new order of justice rotting within. In order to maintain the new order, the “right-wing” violence to the Stalinist terror had to be extended. This provoked a counter-movement that called for a new, alternative legislation.

With his inconspicuous, 36-page essay, Benjamin ultimately casts no less than the question of what revolutions really are. If Benjamin is right with his suspicion, then the act of violence ‘revolution’ is obviously no means of liberation. But what remains then?

At this point Benjamin turned to the “proletarian general strike” and pointed to Sorel, who was the leading theoretician of revolutionary syndicalism at the beginning of the twentieth century (before his turn to fascism). In defense of the direct action of the working class, Sorel distinguishes between two forms of the general strike: the political strike seeks the enforcement of a new order in which “the state loses nothing of its power, the power of privileged to privileged as the mass of the producers Men change “. The “proletarian”, on the other hand, does not aspire to a new legal order, but – according to Benjamin – “means without purpose”.

At this point, the essay finally goes to theological terrain. Benjamin distinguishes between the “mythical” violence of the Greek gods’ world and the “just violence” of the Judaic god. This distinction may at first have a very strong effect, but, in fact, different ideas of human existence are hidden behind the divine images. In Greek mythology, the power of the gods has the function of demonstrating their power and thus setting right, ie, their rule. Thus, Odysseus crosses the Mediterranean for 10 years because Poseidon is angry with him. And even Oedipus does not escape his oracles. People are the ball of the ruling order. The Judaic God, on the other hand, is, at least in parts of the Torah, also a god of changeability. The Jews flee from bondage in Egypt and found a community of free and equal in Sinai.

Benjamin now asserts that the bourgeois legal order follows the Greek-mythical principle that justice, on the other hand, is assigned to the Judaic: “Judgment is an act, and in this respect an act of direct manifestation of violence. Justice is the principle of all divine purpose, power the principle of all mythical regulation. ” (57)

Benjamin also distances himself from pacifism with this theological volte. It is not only that the means of violence contaminates the targets, as pacifists would probably maintain. In Benjamin the context is rather the reverse: the violence is contaminated by the purpose . An action becomes an act of power and violence only when it is supposed to make a difference. The “divine force”, on the other hand, is one which does not serve any interests, does not want to establish any legal order.

As a political thesis this is admittedly doubtful, because – as already mentioned – how do we define justice? And: How is it to prevent interested groups from establishing new power orders?

But Benjamin’s essay is not a political strategy; He puts forward a problem: he shows how liberal law is bound up with the arbitrary rule of violence, and suggests that even revolutionary violence can only produce mythical forms of law. The social revolution as liberation, as a “tigers under the free sky of history” – also a Benjamin quotation – would have to be based on something else: on the understanding of people, on new, radical forms of democracy. Hannah Arendt, one of the few people who knew Benjamin’s essay before the re-release in the mid-1960s, took up this idea when she defended the American Revolution (with her council-like structures) against French Jacobinism in On Revolution. Constitutive process instead of Grande Terreur. In its book, Arendt idealizes the USA by eliminating the systematic extinction of native americans , racism, slavery, and bourgeois rule as part of the founding of the state. But she remains faithful to Benjamin’s objection in one respect: It is necessary to interrupt the closed circle of violence, regulation and upheaval.

Subversive, political violence may be legitimate, in some cases unavoidable: without the partisans of Southern and Eastern Europe national socialism would not have been defeated. And if the German workers’ parties had taken up the armed struggle in 1933, the forces of Nazi Germany would probably have been no longer sufficient for Auschwitz and the occupation of Europe. It would be idiotic to deny that political violence can be an indispensable form of resistance. But as a means of establishing justice, it obviously is not. If there has been social emancipation in armed uprisings, it is not because of, but in spite of, violence.

Benjamin’s essay thus leads to the unresolved question of the constituent process: How does an alternative, radically democratic power emerge under prevailing conditions, which allows us to leap from the continuum of the history of the world?