The Shift of Desires

Review of ‘It’s about the end that keeps on coming’ by Jay Ticar at West Gallery

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One of the works in Mr. Ticar’s latest exhibition at West

It’s a distressing and shattered world, if you read into the paintings of Jay Ticar, but one that is not without hope or room for contemplation. In his paintings and drawings the Manila-born, Toronto-based artist unravels a surreal world of a falling dream sequence in which liquid forms are melded with the domestic mess of medicinal pills, plates, shoes, and magazines. The objects appear in detail, and figures both deciphered and fantastic complement with each other. The paintings resemble a haunt; the menacing side of an otherwise mundane life that we try to file away at the back of our minds.

Hung bare inside the confined middle room, this exhibition at West Gallery takes in a selection of Ticar’s drawings in blue acrylic which harmoniously coalesce with graphite and ink to create a tangled tableau. The crudeness, in both the execution of the works and his persistent themes: depiction of his material possessions and reconfiguration of his environment runs through all of the works.

The pencil drawings come across as earlier works by a Malaysian artist I once adored, Jalaini Abu Hassan, whose real as well as imagined memories are mixed in the immediate present of his canvas. While Ticar’s works largely explore themes in Filipino diaspora, Hassan’s works reference elements of traditional Malay and modern global culture.

Mr. Ticar has sustained an artistic career as a painter, lecturer, and researcher being awarded prestigious fellowships, most notably as an Asian Public Intellectual, which allowed him to travel and live in different territories. I’ve always seen him as a cut above the rest in his batch at the UP College of Fine Arts but the opinion of those who followed his work is that, he has been out of sight and out mind in his mid-career. It’s a surprise since, Mr. Ticar has always been a formidable painter, albeit one who has kept a tangential participation in the Manila Art Scene. The Japanese Gallery, OTA Fine Arts and the Singapore-based Richard Koh currently represent him.

Like Jailani Abu Hassan, His semiabstract pictures are often based on home interiors, and domestic spaces, but in Ticar, the human figure rarely appears. Mr. Ticar has written that he’s “had problems with his painting,” finding it “ponderously operatic in its imagery though oddly indeterminate and unresolved in tone.” He says he is not interested in figures but don’t mind if they come out naturally in the process of painting. His recent work at West Gallery seem to have this problem all figured out and makes a stronger impact, partly because it takes vacillation as its premise (the end of something that keeps on coming could very well be the process of painting) and builds on it, as if castles forged and washed away on sand.

We can see this in the way he repurposed his painting’s idea. Earlier this year, Mr. Ticar began to work on images of houses that he had come across while visiting parts of the Philippines. He began to add to it, bit by bit, ruminating on the nature of migrant dreams and the shifting of desires that determine the final outcome of the design of Filipino houses. Its work of this sort— convalescent, tentative, derivative— that we see in this exhibition at West Gallery. When his paintings were exhibited last February at Art Fair Philippines at the booth of Richard Koh Fine Arts, everyone took notice of his painting’s resemblance to the ruin left by Typhoon Haiyan. While Mr. Ticar has accepted this as premonitory since he had began painting the series after the Ondoy Flood, the paintings are actually depictions of unfinished houses, which reflect the Filipino aspiration of having the ideal house for the family. These were also done at a time when Mr. Ticar was migrating, giving his work a slightly sentimental tone. According to the exhibition curator, the works are not about destruction, but rather about “reconstructing things as life happens.”

I have observed thus, that drawing falls into the very heart of Mr. Ticar’s practice, although, the pencil drawings in this set have become inscrutable, acting chiefly as compositional elements. When he takes up a black marker, it’s more with a sense of urgency (to fill up the space more rapidly) than intention, and within the swipes and sprinkle of acrylic there’s a pulse of movement and force. They appear as sketches in their lack of detail and the opacity of the ink seem bold and quickly executed like graffiti. Each of the show’s seven pieces, has been treated as a kind of giant sketch pad, which the artist covered with scribbled names and notes to self, and marginalia, preserving the everyday refuse that has passed through his mind and through his house throughout time. The drawing has become like an inventory of objects one keeps in the periphery of memory. The amassing isn’t wholly unfettered. Traces of the original sketch are still visible and to some degree determine what it was he wanted to make in the beginning, and what added objects went where. But over all the new mixed-media pieces come across as open-ended exercises in improvisation, with the process concluding almost arbitrarily. I have commented how his pieces don’t have a single look, to which he retorts, “Iba-iba naman talaga works ko e, walang isang look” (My works are always different, there’s no single look). Mr. Ticar does not aim to pursue a uniform approach to painting or drawing.”

Unlike the bleak and sleek opaqueness of his paintings in Art Fair Philippines, Ticar’s drawings are mistily transparent with forms prowling within a glum palette. But still working on a similar subject, these paintings offer a narrative of confusion, introspection, and ambiguity set in a world suffused by pallid blue with sinuous unreadable forms.

In his artist statement for his exhibition with Richard Koh, Mr. Ticar has said that the objects he has drawn are a “reflection of the socio economic situation” of his subjects. The underlying travails of characters behind the objects are the real subjects of Mr. Ticar.  The drawings act as a personal archaeology; a list of the remnants of his identity that have washed up along with the floods and typhoons and shifts of desires and ambitions. The objects seem like they had been with him in the gulf of lost time, and survived less altered than he is. In my observation of his works, I deduce that they ought to mean something, laden and grave as they were with the mystery of the artists’ own transient existence.

Jay Ticar’s exhibition at West Gallery will run until  24 May. 48 West Avenue, Quezon City . Contact +63 2 411 0336 or info@westgallery.org

Agnes Arellano eating a pizza

Agnes Arellano’s Flying Dakini at MO_Space

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Tonight was the opening of Agnes Arellano’s Flying Dakini at Mo_Space in the Fort. One of my favorite spaces for the reason that when I used to go there, you can get a doughnut downstairs at Krispy Kreme, sometimes for free. I had such fond memories of MO_Space, not the least among them was that show by Pow Martinez of his arbitrarily done sculptures of wood and clay ala Franz West and an inverted surveillance camera. I know when I truly enjoyed a work of art when its meaning has the capacity to grow over time. There was also that fateful night when I accidentally saw Roberto Chabet’s One thousand and one isthmuses and decided to post a status message about it that he liked. That really made my day for vague reasons. Looking back, nobody had an idea what it was about but people always had something to say about it. Perhaps the body of work informs the individual piece as if meaning surfaces over several reiterations. In Philippine Art, there are few artists who have done only masterpieces. Agnes Arellano is one of them. I think I have never seen any minor work by this lady.

I have never been to an opening of a show by Agnes Arellano even the one held last night for the simple reason that I was busy manning that small little gallery on the corner of 4th Avenue called Light and Space. Friends passed by that night and told me about it and I was naturally interested. I thought I heard Flying Bikinis but my ears have often failed me for better or for worse.

The main piece in ‘Flying Dakini’ is a recast of the image of the goddess, which according to the exhibition notes by Ringo Bunoan, is a metaphor for spiritual insight. This is actually the cast of Arellano’s own body done in the late 90s.  Also in the write-up she mentions that the Dakini is shown holding, in her right hand, the scimitar  (a short sword with a rounded blade common in the middle east) to symbolize the “cutting off of defilements – illusions that must be destroyed with a sharp discernment”. On her left hand, she holds a skullcap filled with wisdom and blessings. All lovers should be devotees of the Dakini but I suppose her true believers are either eccentric or extinct people, otherwise this wouldn’t pass off as art. Religious images always undergo modification or mockery before being displayed as art, as if distilling the divine and condensing it with the mundane, except in such arcane cases for a totally estranged audience.

In order to understand the nature of this exhibition and my subsequent opinions, allow me to indulge you in a bit of story telling.

It has been 30 years now since the opening of Pinaglabanan Gallery, which Arellano used to operate. Wasn’t it a week ago when I was sharing a beer with Ronnie Lazaro and he was telling about the awesome things they did there. I couldn’t say anything but nod because I knew little of art history in the 80s or about performance art.  But basing from his story, I have the impression, that the art scene was much more cohesive then and there was more interaction between writers and visual artists than how it is today. Pinaglabanan was not only of skirmish but also a place for exchanges where artists befriended other artists. For this, the Gallery is a kind of legendary institution in Philippine art and for the short time it has lived (1984- 1989) it exhibited some of the best. The gallery literally rose from the ashes when the original Arellano home burned down, along with it killing the Architect and members of his family. The name itself is indicative of the politically charged location, it was the site of armed struggle during the 1896 revolution and the struggle of advancing contemporary art at time of regime transition and institutional patronage was in collapse. I heard from a little bird that it was here where Danny Dalena slapped David Medalla in one of his performances out of ‘trip.’ Roberto Chabet also served as curator of the space and was the last person to exhibit there with his Cargo and Decoy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith this context in mind, it’s no wonder Arellano paid homage to Chabet by making an altar where one can offer prayers to him. Mo_Space, after all has been the stomping ground of Chabet babies since its opening and Agnes Arellano is perhaps among the eldest of the bunch. In a 1989 review of Cargo and Decoy, Juaniyo Arcellana noted how Chabet, the professor didn’t want to be talked about so I initially thought the whole altar was a misguided tribute and a bit maudlin. But who am I to judge? I wasn’t active in that era. Arcellana also noted how Agnes Arellano used to wear a t-shirt with a print by Bobby Chabet, which he remarks, probably says a lot about her opinion of her professor. Arellano credits Bobby Chabet as her mentor at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts and curator of the exhibition where she created her first inscape, Temple to the Moon Goddess at the Museum of Philippine Art in 1983. He was also curator of the first and last exhibitions of The Pinaglabanan Galleries. Her altar for Chabet contains her offering of casts of a human skull and a thighbone painted with red polka dots in reference to Chabet’s cloth-wrapped Bakawan. It is evident, that the exhibit at MO_Space harks back to two eras which are important in recent art history, one is the era of artists run spaces during the regime transition as embodied by Pinaglabanan Galleries and second, the era of artist-run spaces as represented by artists like Ringo Bunoan and spaces like MO_Space that successfully transitioned into commercial art galleries.

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Despite the change of times, the art of Arellano has evolved little. One can even go as far as calling this exhibition a mere rehash of her earlier works. It seemed like a blown-up figurine. Far from the phallic sculptures of large M-16 bullets displayed a few years ago at the circular node of the Lopez Museum in Ortigas.

Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that Arellano’s own spiritual search and personal experiences direct much of her artistic practice.  Her body of work has become no more than a visualization of her lifelong ‘investigation ‘of the feminine in religion and spirituality. As she has gained a following for a body of work consisting of female bodies as demi-goddesses in plaster and cold cast marble that appeal largely to feminists and the advocacy types, fans of classical sculpture, and to some extent, the horrorific in art. I agree with Bunoan, that they are highly sensual and foreboding and they are powerful evocations of the feminine mystique. This is the best quality of her work. What is usually easy to like, though, is always predictable. Arellano’s masterpieces are replete with things like that.

j7uvIt is a good development that endeavors of artists of her caliber have come to the fore over the last few years. But I’ve always wanted to see something more mature about her work, the kind of art that buries secrets or struggles rather than manifesting them. I long for art that gives something up without insisting on what that something is.

Yet it seems that her works, especially with the blunt agenda, have become a para-religious indulgence. The shamanism exhibited by Arellano that appeared so fresh and en vogue only a decade ago has thawed into a tedious game of pretentions, resulting in a repackaged and, for the most part, awfully trite doctrine: work that “explores” personal issues or “investigates” a social problem. Her sculptures work best without any of these claims.

Arellano is in the stage of her artistic career when each move has been burdened with imparting bromidic messages of social or artistic significance. With exhibitions like Arellano’s Flying Dakini, the art scene has become one big charismatic prayer meeting in which everyone insists on having her say before an audience of witnesses, believers, converts, and penitents.

I doubt if Flying Dakini is really a manifestation of the artist’s own transformation. She remarks how she used to be an iconoclast, but have now become an iconographer.  She was actually both at the same time. Isn’t the expropriation of religious images into contemporary art, also a form of iconoclasm?

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After finishing my routine in the office, I decided to have a nightcap in Stella where I occasionally hear good electronica music. It’s not my regular cup of tea but you have to try and appreciate, find out why other people like such things, much like works of other artists. Upon entering the door, I saw a woman looking at me, but a bit evasively, while alternately slicing and sprinkling salt on her pizza. Spread out on the table before her is a beautiful still life, consisting of plates, a blue pitcher next to a glass of wine, and a silver tray containing a half-eaten roll, a family of salt and pepper shakers beside a silver canister. More pizza was being served. The lady who met my gaze was Agnes Arellano and around her were friends and family. The scene looked straight out Da Vinci’s Last Supper and it was elegant.

Normally, I wouldn’t write trivial details about artists but I guess there’s a point to be expounded here. With all the mystique shrouding her works and her revered image in the local art scene, one would not picture her simply slicing pizza and eating it. In my mind, she would be fed by a multitude of servants off the platter while being fanned by eunuchs, perhaps entertained by a hundred lyres, as Nefertiti would be in Ancient Egypt. Agnes Arellano would have not intended it herself but her sculptures have become her. Being both Pygmalion and Galatea, Arellano has cast not only her physical qualities but also her character in the plaster goddess. The Dakini, with all its spiritual and erotic connotations, make it seem as though Arellano not only offers insight and blessing but her devotion as well. Her views of art are not unlike my reading of Chabet as a Greek God who is omniscient but also flawed, causing tragedies and capable of all too human mistakes. Arellano fancies herself not only in the image of a Dakini but also among the Pantheon of the dead greats. #

 “Flying Dakini,” opened last April 12, at Mo_Space, third floor, Mos Design Bldg., B2 Bonifacio High and 9th Sts., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. The show will run until the 11th of May.

Don Dalmacio and the manual of painting

Review of Don Dalmacio’s Condensed and Evaporated at BLANC

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Too late for today, Too early for tomorrow. 60 x 48 in, acrylic on canvas, 2014. Photo not mine. Grabbed from the website of BLANC. http://blanc.ph/exhibits/

I vividly remember going to the Cultural Center of the Philippines in July 2009 to see the works of the latest 13 Artists Awardees at that time. By now I have forgotten most of the works in that show but the paintings of Don Dalmacio are stuckin my head. It’s been five years since then when I visited Blanc Gallery last week and was surprised to see his works have evolved and greatly refined. Five years ago was all about distortion and understatement. I thought of a word for it: ‘satiation’ or repletion: the state of being satisfactorily full and unable to take on more. The irony of being hollow but unable to contain. His style has taken on a life that is intuitive and honest. Dalmacio, whom I have not met in person but have personally written a fan mail appears the most composed of young artists who exhibited at the CCP during that time, in contrast to the frenetic works by Kawayan De Guia or the hideous atmospheric and round drawing by Christina Dy, Dalmacio’s paintings on the wall genuinely appealed to be simple but profound.

In Jose Saramago’s, The Manual of calligraphy and painting, the lead character is a struggling young artist named H, commissioned to paint a portrait of a influential industrialist named S. In the novel, H. begins to work, but he has conflicted feelings about doing yet another flattering, bland depiction. He resents his client’s success and confidence; he envies him and is fascinated by him. In frustration, H. starts a second, secret version of the portrait, painted to adhere to his own developing ideas of art and truth (from the book’s cover notes). Upon seeing the paintings “Hollow Men” at the CCP Hallway, I imagine Dalmacio as that struggling young artist who was probably in the same predicament. They appear to me as alternate portraits commissioned by egocentric oligarchs. Moving because they seem like characters so prominent during the Macapagal-Arroyo regime.

Because the CCP hallway is without ample floorspace, the works worked better when seen from across the hall or from the corner of the eye. In “Hollow Man,” Dalmacio is like Saramago’s H who emphasized on the hunt for truth and therefore meaning. He has turned to producing secret portraits for their potential to tell the story, relying on silence to tell even the most politically agitated motive, hence the subdued images.

The boundaries of his figuration were so undefined, that it was at risk of being misconstrued as repression. The effect is a temptation to disrobe the socio-political dimension of the artwork. What the artist presents is actually a gesture of reluctance, impressionable, and rather contrastingly not a brave decision on his part but timid or calculated but it came out to me as the most deserving of scrutiny in all the awardee’s works on display because it revives something that was already long lost in the tradition of Philippine painting.

I am not so keen on the title of the show or the way simultaneous shows in Blanc are presented almost without celebration normally accorded to solo exhibitions. In Condensed and Evaporated, Dalmacio seems to have thrown out the socio-political dimension of his work and have built upon his form. The paintings have become lighter and skittish. His subjects have become contemplative and easy; natural.

He has created images that resonate, although, quite ineffectively of his own artistic voice that is now just an inflection from the CCP paintings. Don Dalmacio’s monotone, often mixed with drab colors tells of an even more potent detachment. Not a hint of concern or excitement. This cool attitude has also become the source of weakness because they no longer attempt to push or hold something together even if just an empty space. He has become, contrary to his written statement on the catalogue of the CCP, not a man to riot but of temperament. He has eschewed the tendency to paint in large format, which I regret, because he plays so much on focus; what is visible or what remains? In one of the paintings I recalled, rather than leaving out the face, he erases it, thereby ripping off identity in his assumption that the viewer would psychosomatically associate his portrait with the body. But he hides and refuses access to it. It is emptiness and estrangement that abounds in his work like a tamer Antonio Saura who has dissected and deconstructed the human body only to show its gnawing torture and exhaustion.

What Condensed and Evaporated feels like is none of the satiation I found earlier in his work but a less arduous attempt at tabula rasa. Painting the subject to make it disappear. I would wish to obtain full details of the sketched-out objects in paintings such as ‘Close, Open, Close, Open,’ but it has become apparent that in the practice of Dalmacio, this is not the point. Notice ‘Too much sleep makes you go blind,’ where he is articulating the burden of wanting to say so much in a painting; expressing that there is also a threshold in subduing. Any artist who has worked with the most meager of means knows this. Before concluding that the canvas is never empty, Rauschenberg recognized this same struggle, that you have to always give something to see in order to hint at what is being hidden. The most important thing to notice in the show then, is the opposing forces behind the practice of painting, to be both brimming and quiet, and to ride the trembling. #

 

The exhibition Condensed and Evaporated runs from April 5-26 at BLANC Gallery along Whiteplains Avenue in Quezon City.

Max Balatbat a.k.a. MaxBal and his Action Star Paintings

 

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Photo grabbed from the facebook page of Silverlens. Not mine.

Artists represented by Silverlens are some of the most successful names in Philippine art today. By virtue perhaps of good business practices or critical choices made by its proprietors or the fact that the gallery takes hold of their artists like no mama bear can. In spite of this, I never gave anyone who exhibited there enough attention because I find anyone who ever exhibited in a gallery in Pasong Tamo, a sterile case that no longer excites me. But today, I’ve taken an exemption to Max Balatbat also known by his kontrabida screen name MaxBal (see Silverlens profile), whose decorative abstract creations have not quietly surpassed being awkwardly brusque and jejemonic. Max Balatbat’s attempt at being an artist is more interesting than his paintings but let me just run through it a bit: He creates layers of patterns culled from urban and architectural structures and turns it rote and optically ornate with a quasi-assemblage, Rauschenbergian-like approach to painting. He could actually gather around something quite witty but something that would always seem crass or lacks the irreverent imagination one would expect of any artist.  As said earlier, his attempts at being artistic have become burdened and farcical. He has in the process of painting, made something of a formula to abstract painting that always run short of being called fine art.

The tandem of Balatbat with the tastefully dyslexic paintings of Bernardo Pacquing who was the darling du jour of abstract painting in the 90s to early millenium reveals the attempt of Isa Lorenzo at fashioning the likes of Balatbat into art world superstars whose appeal is largely potent to the unwashed kabaduyan of art collectors looking for a safe middle ground in collecting contemporary art. Something that is absolutely dead in formaldehyde they can rightly fit in their living rooms. Unlike Pacquing who did that kind of painting before the era of smartphones and wikipedia, one cannot quite pinpoint the anomaly of Balatbat as his abstract works actually do a disservice to rebelliousness and push-it-to-the-limit dictum of anyone who has ever practiced abstract art. Nor does he channel the flipside of this, a tradition extended by the likes of Richard Diebenkorn, arguably one of the best in American art.

Balatbat’s world is narrowed not by the poverty of his place but the poverty of his mind. His utterly stupid profile in the gallery website of Silverlens lifted from Utterly Art captures the diarrhea in his creative process, one that stinks of empty pattern making, diminutive aesthetic that has plagued most Filipino artists of recent years.

There was a time when gallerists over and above being managers, or PROs  for the artists saw themselves as gatekeepers for the kind of art that deserved to be publicly visible. When Isa Lorenzo pulled off something like Luis Lorenzana whose seriously over priced creations which at best look like bootlegged Mark Rydens in fanciful frames, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Different strokes for different folks. With excellent artists like Cos Zicarelli and Maria Taniguchi exclusively exhibiting in her gallery though, one would think there’s obviously something fishy about it all. The career of Lorenzana despite commercial success is largely seen as a fluke. No one has actually treated him with critical seriousness much like the careers of other artists like Lynyrd Paras who remain to be an anomaly in the art scene that crudely mistakes market value for artistic value. Gallerists continue to be the most powerful personalities in Philippine art because the space and the machinery to mount and promote exhibitions still determines which artists get elevated from their humble studios to stellar recognition. In this system, the galleries are like small fiefdoms and so much more potent in Manila whose feudal and parochial consciousness have not dissipated from colonial sensibilities.

Although I have seldom attended exhibitions at Silverlens or SLAB, even when they showed artists I truly admire, I’ve always thought that even their best artists have never grown from the kind of art one can simply hack, a bunch of imitators whose practices never graduated from art schools.

Balatbat has so constructed himself as an artist, perhaps too much like one that it appears fabricated to being familiar; one can deduce that this is kind of art that actually pleases the likes of Isa Lorenzo: bland and catering to the less-informed collector. I would never-ever dare think that something like that can fit any living room of any self-respecting art lover. That thing is plain shit.

In my heavily disapprove of MaxBal, I have been ridiculed as an elitist jerk, negative energy dude who can be accused of the same faults I just hurled over the fence of Silverlens. But then again, what more can I expect from a gallery who exhibited the likes of BenCab.

Both BenCab and MaxBal have not only contracted their names for more artistic affectation, they also create works I absolutely abhor but the difference between the two is that BenCab, at least, has a great unpretentious personality that it almost redeems the kind of art he does or the giant signature over his museum in Baguio.

Decades of insufficient dialogue within the Philippine art community have caused gallerists like IsLor to traffic more anomalous names than an illegal recruiter into the imaginary and disputed territory of Philippine Art. I have always tried to see exhibitions with a fresh eye and you know what, MaxBal actually reminds me of works by artists I geek over. That goes to show his art historical adeptness: Robert Rauschenberg, Joseph Cornell, Gerry Tan, and Roberto Chabet but he is not in the class of those people I mentioned. With titles like ‘Balwarte,’ ‘Bahay tagpi-tagpi,’ and ‘Bahay Colorete,’ I don’t think I can ever, not in my most jologs of dreams, consider those things seriously to represent contemporary abstract painting even with the imprimatur of a gallery like Silverlens. Fools, if they think that we easily follow the tune of the Pied Piper.

 

There is an insecurity tucked so deeply in pairing Balatbat with Pacquing. While previously artists in that gallery are celebrated with a one-man show, they felt like they needed to connect the careers of both artists in order to contextualize Balatbat’s abstraction. I feel sorry for MaxBal. He was obviously chosen via the business instincts of IsLor and her cohorts.

In all fairness, the works by MaxBal in SLAB are some of his best. He has improved his processes of using mixed media, making his painting a bit more unpredictable in layering it with a sputtering of earth colors; his compositions and knowledge of material have more piquant and convergence. In the absence of any interesting name in abstract art, these canvasses at least feel honest and less premeditated but we are praying for a miracle if we can expect a Lee Aguinaldo out of MaxBal. Whenever I’m intoxicated, I feel like saying sorry for my hateful thoughts about the paintings. A painting called ‘Bahay Tagpi-tagpi’ shows the sort of materials one would find in an informal settlement but I feel insulted, having lived in one myself, that these scenes are rendered without the stench or the sense of the ghetto and in a damned place like SLAB. There is something wonderful about the patches of olive and the Polkadots, perhaps something of a cross between action painting and Pop-art because the starkness is powerful. Though the subject is obvious enough it speaks because it shows us a timeless form in Philippine Art: that of the barong-barong. His decision to dedicate himself to Abstract art is also admirable, but one that does not ease my frustration. That there are actually better alternatives evokes a pervasive, almost epic malaise and desperation.

In short and simple words, I was looking for the go-beyond in his abstract paintings said to be inspired by shanties in his neighborhood. Had he offered one, the paintings would’ve been worth looking at but this is yet again, one of those exhibitions where in abstract painting was done wrongly because it was reduced to design. It fell back on monotonous techniques; his work turned dull and clichéd like a Pinoy action movie where personalities like Balatbat might have rightly fitted.

I get it. With all the false hopes invested in this guy, I know he is only being naive if not honest. If only he questioned his own modus operandi and views more deeply, his paintings might have actually worked to revive abstract painting to the position it enjoyed in the art scene of Manila during the 20th Century.#