Julius Clar, Not here anymore at Light and Space Contemporary

In bringing collage and assemblage works that recall the twentieth century master, Joseph Cornell, Julius Clar confronts us with two distinct traditions, one rooted in the whimsical visions of Western Modernism and the other in the more politically charged spheres of the Filipino avant-garde aspirations of the 1960s that equally inform his practice. Clar’s world, both inside and outside of his boxes, is one drawn primarily from his quixotic imagination. The humdrum and marvel of his art conceals a reality that is often laden with melancholy and an aversion to connect directly with the world beyond his own memory of people and places. The countless techniques that he practiced over the years formed an alternative language at a time when the artist witnessed the obsolescence of artistic forms in collage and most notably in photography.

Clar has created a wide variety of handmade materials and ephemera largely in the form of book pages, rejected photographs, posters, and memorabilia. As a result, his rarely exhibited works combine his insightful experience as an academic and as a professional photographer.

What is notable of Clar is the articulation of a distinctly personal taste through the respective creation of new visual strategies that teeter on the fringes of what collage and assemblage could be and how they could be read. In this exhibition we find him exploring subjects and themes of travel, nature, antiques, poetry (the title was taken from a verse of TS Eliot’s The Wasteland) and representations of women, from dated documents and artifacts.

Clar’s artworks manifest a fixation with the manipulation of material: his collaging became a means to navigate emotional sites and significant terrains in the margin of the subconscious. By utilizing a range of materials continuously accumulated and scattered about in his home studio, Clar creates visual eccentricities that provoke a rundown of his own spiritual condition. These assemblages wallow in the activity of self-reflection, functioning as fragments shored against the artist’s ruin, examining the internal and external forces that plague and configure the constantly evolving perception of the artist and his surroundings.

About the Artist

Clar is known for employing alternative photographic processes such as the Van Dyke method of printing. He was Chair of the Photography Program at the De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde. In his career spanning over 30 years, Clar has shown work at the Ayala Museum, Lopez Museum, Cultural Center of the Philippines and Art Center, among others. His last solo exhibition was held at 20 Square – Silverlens Galleries in 2008.

Clar is slated to teach a black and white photography class with Light and Space Contemporary this May 2013.

View the exhibition through this website.

Jason Tecson, Terror Decor at West Gallery

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Against the unwieldy physical stature associated with monumental sculptures, Tecson’s creatures appear almost farcically feeble, void of the ostentatious tradition of his artistic precedents and behave more like loaded figurines.  He effectively and a bit roguishly, undermines the canons of sculpture. The superficially solid body is overstated but becomes a flimsy vessel for unworldly appearances. His masks plays upon the devices of function: they are not wearable, unless by one of his elaborate monsters that serves to give a face to a hollow shell of a figure posed in an act of ruin. Drawing reference to a host of styles across sculptural movements, his intentionally gawky forms trade the high and enduring qualities of monumental bronze or marble for the humble aesthetic and manipulability of fiberglass. His sculptures appear physically imposing and powerful in their size and positioning yet fragmented and vulnerable in their construction. To build these works, he begins with a formation of clay and then replicates this as a styrofoam maquette before making the mold and then adds layers of fiberglass. When he settles with the texture, he finishes the work with coats of automotive paint. Some of his works incorporate the burns created by the resin solution on the styrofoam. Intended deformation is turned into decoration as if trying to wrestle a shape from a conceptual form. That each object, whether more human or more beast, stands on a pedestal, posing for the viewers, emphasizes their edified thingness and the tension between what they call into mind and what they actually appear to be.

His subjects lean to the mythological; the rough assemble and haphazard forms both disclose his process and a sense of reserve. Apex, a semblance of a sandman made from Fiberglass resin-soaked styrofoam wrapped over a skeletal support stands as a abject tribute to Jean Dubuffet; while Pipe, literally a blown-up pipe, almost mockingly harks back to Rene Magritte. His works are loaded with things like that and throughout Jason Tecson’s work is ingrained a reinvention of art historical considerations and their connotations, challenging these preconceptions by morphing them together. He creates his own alternative characters, pointing to a more intimate and esoteric source suggestive of our primal fears.

Monstrous yet unthreatening, Apex— part-human, part-beast—is in a midway pose between walking and crumbling, a Goliath weighted on the bulk of its hands and feet. Tecson’s sculpting investigates conventional aesthetic boundaries and artlessness.  The exhibition, Terror Decor, represents both a hopeful addition and a stark reminder of non-ambitious ventures in the sculptor’s production, one that nods affectionately to the contemporary riddles and enduring archetypes chosen from the margins of seemingly familiar monsters and their myths. – Geronimo F. Cristobal, Jr.

Light and Space boys

We are now installing beds in every studio in light and space. Not mainly for the convenience of sleeping inside the studio but rather to make the artists work on their projects as soon as they get up and until the very last hour. So they would have plenty of time to dream of exhibitions and the future of their careers and Philippine art. We’ve opened the mini-library for 24 hours access, the wi-fi shuts down at 6pm to allow for creative time unadulterated by the internet, and for them to take notice the subscriptions we have to magazines and book editions. Once in a while i invite them to come up to the office so we can “talk.” What ensues is a conversation to impinge upon them the roles (burdens) as young and emerging artists, to advance artistic creation. Occasionally I go down to the studios for guidance counseling (we take turns in the counseling) and to view the latest creations. Our residency is not a day-care programme for the young artist, it closely resembles a barracks where the only orders are to do their best and maximize their potential. As each day passes, I get the impression that we’ve been running a little Eugenics programme where the goal is to produce the artists with the most desirable traits, gradually eliminating undesirable elements down the evolutionary line such as non-reflexive assumption of modernist tendencies, our exoticized self-image as Filipino artists, and juvenile stupidity which not a few artists have carried on well into their mid-career. Yes this is a bit fascistic and I may be half-joking but it is a functioning residency. We do not whip the artists to work and neither do we hold anything back for them, no contracts, no peer pressures. We strive to improve conditions so once and for all we rid each and everyone the ills perpetrated in art schools and artistic cliques, to finally shake pretensions and expunge the shame and inferiority complex that we so unconsciously display whenever we showcase our artworks in international exhibitions. The world owes us nothing because we are in the third world.  Wow, the bed cushion feels really nice.