The calm on this side of the border belies the scene on the other side

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Joseph Tecson’s diptych painting ‘Snow Business’ and Jason Tecson’s polyurethane sculpture, Burn-out site exhibited in The calm on this side of the border…” at West Gallery in Quezon City.

In “The calm on this Side of the Border Belies the Scene on the Other Side,” brothers Jason and Joseph Tecson exhibit sculptures and oil paintings which mark a highlight in their individual careers. The paintings were started during Joseph’s stint as a resident artist at Whitespace Blackbox in Neuchatel, Switzerland while the sculptures are part of a series started by Jason Tecson prior to his two-person exhibit with Syrian artist Thaer Maarouf for an exhibition at Sana Gallery in Singapore. The title is taken from a CNN investigative report by Scott Bronstein on the Islamic extremist group known as ISIS. The influence of aberrant psychologies, urban gangs and graffiti, hip-hop culture, terroristic violence, prisons, globalization, waste and consumption on the two artists has never been more keenly felt. Jason Tecson’s approach to form is crude and intuitive, suggesting violence and lending the work powerful emotional and political overtones. The artist draws freely upon the history of art, evoking primitive sculpture, ideological icons, and pre-Hispanic artifacts; indeed, the synthesis of myriad forms is evidenced in his uncanny choice of materials. These media appears aggressive and is a product of an abstract process, one concerned with the integration of structure and social aesthetics. Styrofoam, wood, polyurethane, fiberglass, metal, terra cotta and found objects are among the numerous ingredients Jason Tecson employs in his totems and fragmented figures. Archaeology is an important touchstone for the artist, referencing the raw landscapes of war zones and Manila ghettos. In harmony and contrast to his brother’s sculptures, Joseph Tecson, paints with a roughness obtained from a youth spent in jail, and softness, like the meditations of a troubled Siddhartha under the Bo tree. Joseph Tecson is lenient, even decadent, in his use of paint, and this attitude—in which manner, and ardor for the essential tactility of painting—defeats all other concerns. Channeling the incomparable personal evolution that struggling artists brought to painting, Joseph Tecson’s newest canvases are an extension of his previous series, triggering his series on Philippine and Swiss Landscapes, in which spray-painted pigment shines through gestural layers in the form of the alps and palms done in thick white oil paint. This time, delicate markings recalling handwriting or meandering scribbles à la Albert Oehlen appear on murky diptychs. There’s more direction in his gestures, and no brushstrokes, but every bit of the attitude of an artist who, after saying he experienced both “heaven and hell on earth” in the aftermath of his first solo show with Light and Space Contemporary in 2012, has a gnawing longing for long hours in his studio—with all the intention to break the medium of painting to its limits. Jason Tecson was born in 1982 in Quezon City, Philippines. He studied Fine Arts at the Ateneo De Manila University and Far Eastern University. Recent exhibitions include “Cool Memories” Gallery Planet, Seoul, South Korea (2014); “Radiation,” Chulalongkorn University Art Gallery, Bangkok, Thailand (2014); “Applied Savagery,” Now Gallery, Makati (2012); “Terror Decor,” West Gallery (2013); and “Jason Tecson: Eroded Myths,” Sana Gallery Singapore. Concurrent with this exhibition at West Gallery are sculptural installations at the De La Salle- College of St. Benilde and at the Ayala Museum for Fringe MNL. He will hold another solo exhibition at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in October 2015. Tecson lives and works in Manila, Philippines. Joseph Tecson was born in 1985 in Quezon City, Philippines. In 2008 he was involved in a high profile drug case, which made it to the headlines of local and international media including CNN and Al Jazeera. Drawing from the horrific experiences of languishing in a Manila Jail, he worked on large canvasses in his tiny cell that would then be exhibited in Manila Galleries. His first solo exhibition was held at Magnet Gallery in Quezon City in 2010. In 2012 He was eventually acquitted of all charges and started to work with Light and Space Contemporary as a resident artist. With an exhibition of large canvasses entitled “Over and Out,” he was the last featured artist of the now defunct Manila Contemporary. In 2014, A Swiss gallery, Whitespace Blackbox, selected him as its first represented artist. This year he will embark on a residency, which would take him to different cities from Munich to Mexico to paint various portraits, colloquially called “Outmates series”. Jason Tecson and Joseph Tecson “The Calm on this Side of the Border Belies the Scene on the Other Side” opens with a reception for the artist on Wednesday, 18 February, and remains on view through 21 March 2015. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11AM to 6PM. West Gallery, 48 West Avenue, Quezon City For more information contact: +63 2 411 0336 or info@westgallery.org

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Jason Tecson / Terror Decor at West Gallery

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Apex and Mask, 2013, polyurethane sculpture, Installation View: West Gallery

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.