Tranquility, Ripples and the Absolute

ANNABELLE CADIZ: TRANQUILITY, RIPPLES, AND THE DIVINE

 

          “We are surrounded with things which we have not made and which have a life and structure different from our own: trees, flowers, grasses, rivers, hills, clouds. For centuries they have inspired us with curiosity and awe. They have been objects of delight. And we have come to think of them as contributing to an idea which we have called nature. Its rise and development is part of a cycle in which the human spirit attempted once more to create harmony with its environment.”

          Those were the opening words of Lord Kenneth Clark in his series of lectures on the subject of “Landscape into Art.” Words it would do us well to remember as we join an artist on her “travelling” exhibition.

          Currently on view at the Galerie Anna is a solo exhibition of Dra. Annabelle Cadiz titled “Tranquility, Ripples, and the Divine.” (Those who have seen Cadiz’s show previous to this one, exhibited a couple of years ago, are “in” for a surprise, for these landscape works are at a far remove. Her last show was of a different landscape; “nightscape” may be a more appropriate descriptive word. In those works, Cadiz depicted images of those who work in the night, and through, and that subtle hint should modestly suffice even to those who are more worldly-conscious.)

          This time, Cadiz has found inspiration in her many travels all over Europe, America, and Asia.  Indeed, the exhibition will unreel like a personal visual odyssey, elevating the sights beyond the merely touristy. The works are imbued with a quiet atmosphere and serenity, as if in fact, the artist were all alone when she visited the sites. And though, of course, hordes of tourists were busily snapping away with their cameras and iphones, Cadiz, the introspective soul, “owned” the views, for she sensitively observed, and absorbed, the spiritual energy of the place, and placed her retentive memory at her disposable. While photographed images have their own practical value (excellent for jogging memory!), nothing can replace the sensations one felt at a particular place, or triggered by a specific view, nor the intense emotion that swept her, provoked by the grandeur and magnificence of the vistas that emerged before her.

          At the outset, it should be said that these works have a gentility and mistiness of watercolors, though some are in fact in oils. (It was Cezanne, the forerunner of modern art from whom Picasso saw the origins of Cubism, who treated oils as though the medium were watercolors, as witness his late still lifes.) With her light, felicitous touch, Cadiz creates sensations that are both feminine, lyrical and romantic, for which reason one can call her works “Wordsworthian”, after the poet who wrote a line of poetry which every college student can still remember: I wandered lonely as a cloud…

          And so did Cadiz wander all over the world, filling her heart and mind like a diary, with each page overwhelmed by a welling of emotions. There are views that are grand and lowly: cathedrals, manor houses, and castles are awe-inspiring, the stuff of travel brochures, such classic edifices as the Notre Dame in Paris and the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. There are tableaus of mountains and meadows, beaches and streams and rivers, blossoms and vegetation. Each can be relished quietly in the spirit of tranquility and contemplation, our eyes and hearts lifted to the Divine Creator Who has brought all these into existence.

          Yet again, we are awakened to the realization that certain joyous scenes can be gleaned by turns from the ordinary and the overlooked, the simple and the sophisticated, the homey and the humble. As Lord Kenneth Clark right observed: “In general the popular landscapes are those in which the lazy or uninterested eye is suddenly jerked into responsiveness by an unusually resonant contrast of tone or color. This is  true of the stretch of water lit by evening skies, set off by dark trees; or of the evening sun shedding an orange light on the hill-tops.” For myself, I am drawn towards the fresh appeal of often ignored sights, such as Cadiz’s “The Lady in Yellow”, where an unrecognized solitary woman is seated among white-topped tables, just like a scene at Tuileries in Paris. Another is “The Traveller” which will not really pass muster as a view, but a rather as a vignette, of a place observed and of time unrecoverable. It is merely the sight of a motorcycle parked along a wall.  In both, one feels an underlying narrative, certainly unvoiced, but nevertheless brushes against your imagination. Still another is “Same Time, Same Place”, unequivocally a transcription of an assignation. While all these do not belong in the traditionally accepted notions of landscapes (but why can’t a park not be a landscape?), we have to accept them as the products of the artist’s impartial eye. Even a work titled “The Spirit House”, such as one often sees along the streets of an Asian city, is a moving sight. A humble, makeshift contraption of a small house, laden with flowers left by devotees, awaits the arrival of the Divine.

          For all these, we have to thank the artist Annabelle Cadiz for inviting us along on her journey of discovery.

 

 

 

Reliquaries

EXHIBIT STATEMENT

 

History and geography are witnesses to the myriad funerary beliefs and practices that have arisen. The Egyptians take pride in their pyramids. The Chinese have their tombs equipped with objects deemed necessary to bring in the next life. The Romans boast of their sarcophagi with inscriptions pertaining to the deeds of the dead. The Mesopotamian royal tombs house not only the king but also include his guards and ladies of the court who are to be his companions in the afterlife. Given this variegated society at large there comes a universal chord which embraces all cultures and societies.

 

Temporal life displays giving of honor to the living as manifest in manifold awards, honors and prestige it bestows. However, after some years, if not decades, of existence in the world comes the inevitable reality. Each one has that day when sister death knocks upon his door. There may be a wide range of reactions towards this departure - fear, restlessness, optimism, hope – and yet something common remains. The same respect for the living is extended to the dead, if not greater. Tombs, pyramids, coffins, urns and reliquaries prove the veneration people have for the dead, and in turn, point out to the belief that the departed continue on living. Death signifies not the end; it is only the beginning.

 

The belief in the afterlife shows forth the reality that in a human being there is not only his physical body, but, there is a soul that animates his being. The separation of the soul from the body marks the physical death; nevertheless, the soul continues to linger on. With the belief in life beyond comes consequently the regard put in how earthly life is lived. Undeniably there is always tension and friction in life, a struggle that is persistently waged. The attraction to the good and happiness and the joys and triumphs are invariably present, but common experience tells that there is a constant battle against disorders found in deception, idleness, stagnancy, reclusion and lack of purpose. The kind of earthly life stamps itself in the soul that continues to live on.

 

            In sum, whoever man there is the place to go to after the end of life is one and same. This is depicted in “All Go to One Place” and “Limbo’s Cradle”. The remembrance of the dead is displayed in “Bouquet” and (title of Paul Eric Roca’s works). Man’s care for how he lives his life – a purposeful life – shines through in (title of Vincent Balandra’s works), “Towards a Purpose”, “Hindrance and Obstacles”, “Lady Lazarus”, “Vacant Lot”, “Holy Eucharist Parish Church, Armstrong Avenue, Moonwalk Village, Paranaque City, Metro Manila”, “Villa Sto. Nino”, and “Sacred Hurt”.

 

Reliquaries take this perspective that life and death, and death and Life are realities that are not mutually exclusive.

 

 

 

 

Ara ka sa Dughan

 

          Currently on view at Galerie Anna is an exhibition of works on paper by Negrense artist Nunelucio Alvarado, with the tender titled “Ara Ka sa Dughan”, translated as “You Are in my Heart,” affords the viewer to see an aspect of his prolific creation that is not often seen by the greater audience. Alvarado is one artist whose art aspires for greatness: certainly not in the materialistic and commercial sense of it, but in terms of ambition; again not as a  careeristic or egoistic self-promotion, but in the struggle to use his art to address themes that may seemingly be rooted in his native Negros, but translate to their universal significance and consequences.

          To be sure, the viewer is more accustomed to the more bristling,  more aggressive stance of Alvarado’s art. For decades, since the Seventies, his works were associated with the historical movement known as Social Realism. It was the appropriate decade, remarkable for the fearless denunciatrion of a reigning social order that  unconscionably ignored the plight and suffering of the masses. To say that the trauma inflicted by years of Martial Law still lingers is an understatement. Indeed, the wounds of this inhuman destruction of lives remain indelibly present in the never-ending curse of poverty and persecution throughout the land. Thus artists could only take recourse to their art in order to hold up a mirror that reflects our social realities. Undoubtedly, the tension in  the works of Alvarado is one of unmitigated intensity, of  a sustained pitch that is more remarkably memorable by his distinctive handling of form which enables him to uplift his art to the level of  excellence achieved by Social Realists in other countries, specifically Mexico and  Latin America.

          It is therefore a visually refreshing and solacing experience to see Alvarado tackle themes that depart momentarily from his accustomed images. A long-running series titled “Babaye” - “Woman” –  is a refreshing take on folk genre, depicting the subject - “Inday” – as wife, mother, vendor. Still in his distinctive, characteristic style and brilliantly acidic chromatic scale, the image is redolent of the idyll. Whether selling fish, chicken, flowers, fruits and vegetables (inevitably raising visions of Manansala, Malang and Magsaysay-Ho), Alvarado’s Inday seems made of sterner stuff, of a backbone made sturdy by life’s vicissitudes, unbending to the willful neglect of destiny. Typically, these paintings are invested with brilliant prismatic and primary colors and, more enchantingly, a vibrant spread of variegated quilt-like patterns, with particular patience and persistence on their enthusiastic elaboration. Surprisingly, Alvarado works on this visual activity, traditionally regarded as feminine, being allied with domestic arts, with a total lack of self-consciousness. The prevalent use of patterning, both geometric and arabesque, engenders in the works a welcome liveliness, a dynamic rhythm, and a joyous orchestration of contrasting patterns.

          One returns to the title piece, “Ara Ka sa Dughan”, which depicts the visage and torso of a man upon which is emblazoned a heart, so diffident and disconcertingly hidden, as if quelling its palpitating torrents of love. Is this a portrait of the artist in the throes of an overwhelming emotion? For Nunelucio Alvarado, the human acknowledgment of this universal force remains at the heart of the matter.

 

They Were Among Us

“They Were Among Us”:  Vincent Padilla’s Encounter with Time Past

 

            In her book “On Photography” Susan Sontag writes: “A photograph is not just the result of an encounter between an event and a photographer; picture-taking is an event in itself, and one with even more peremptory rights --- to interfere with, to invade, or to ignore whatever is going on. The omnipresence of cameras persuasively suggests that time consists of interesting events, events worth photographing. After the event has ended, the picture will still exist.”

                                                Raising the Ante

            And if artist Vincent Padilla will have his way, his paintings based on these photographs will co-exist in time together with the images that engendered his artworks. In a series of shows devoted to the exploration of emotional and psychological connections with old photographs, Padilla keeps raising the ante. He has, after all, no choice but to do so: looming large is the legacy of National Artist BenCab’s “Larawan” works, after which paintings based on photographs would be counterproductive, redundant, lame. BenCab had, after all, already claimed the territory, and to such magnificent results.

It is to the credit, therefore, of Vincent Padilla that, despite the daunting challenge that lay ahead of him, he has redeemed himself, for he had neither scruples nor doubts,  that his own photography-based works would reveal what the original photographs never did. He would transform his own canvases as a concealed camera.

                                    Pages of History

            Currently on view at Galerie Anna is Padilla’s solo exhibition, billed as “They Were Among Us.” Padilla focuses his lens, as it were, on notable historical figures, mostly public personalities in the arts and politics, so famous that streets and avenues are named after them. Plucked from the pages of history, they deliberately lose their time-line distance and detachment from us even as we relish our connection with our sense of history, where the past participates in the present. Thus, it seems, History is just a jeepney ride away.

            Understandably, the artist in Padilla ties him, like an umbilical cord, to such luminaries as Fernando Amorsolo and Guillermo Tolentino montaged together, the pioneer professors of the Escuela de Bellas Artes (among them, Vicente Rivera y Mir, Miguel Zaragosa, Teodoro Buenaventura, and Dean Rafael Enriquez), and in one iconic photograph, Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, with Dr. Jose Rizal. History as hero-worship is accountably evident in these works.

Interestingly, Padilla has maintained his characteristic layering of manuscript writing in reverse across the pictorial space, serving much like a subtle running filmic music in this these visual discourses with history. And as the manuscripts are hardly legible, teasingly puzzling and painstakingly handwritten, they seem like forerunners of the contemporary practice of merging words and images.

Other notable historical figures assert their presence: President Manuel Quezon panning for gold, Rafael Palma leading the members of the Philippine Independence Mission, all wrapped in heavy winter overcoat; William H. Taft presiding over the Philippine Assembly (where Padilla has brazenly interposed himself in the scene, painting the proceedings), and the bandolero-hero Macario Sakay, in  characteristic  long tresses, with his band of brigands.

                        Timeless Instrument

The viewer may construe that history may vanish upon the destruction of these photographs, paper being so perishable, for only photographs may prove the existence of a past reality. Vincent Padilla proffers his paintings not merely as a more stable medium of recording the past, the act itself being a reproach to photography, but as a timeless instrument created by man and not by machine.

“They Were Among Us” is on view until October 10.

Bang and Some Other Paintings

 

BANG and some other Paintings

Nuestro’s abstract painting vocabulary take off from creating something new from the very spoils of paintings itself. Behind the entire loop, dangles, sprouting images, textured impastos, transparent veiling, mix add of snippets, prints and spillage of signs and decorative strokes, all those elements are transformed into some observations and amplifications of his personal, political and social concern.  Even the smart titling of this series of works carry his concerns.

The white grain of his paper and canvas are his playground.  Thereafter, he starts organizing familiar abstract images utilizing his cunning manipulation of his medium. The drama unfolds by combining all different familiar painting strokes from hard edge, to free flowing strokes, transparency, text, numbers, print based image making techniques and deconstructive image manipulation inspired by computer graphics.

Bob Nuestro was born in the Philippines in 1967. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree major in Painting from the old Philippine College of Music & Fine Arts, an affiliate of Philippine Women’s University in 1988. 

He has exhibited his works in Manila, Chicago, New York, Singapore and Japan. 

His relevant exhibitions are as follow,   in 1999 at the Lopez Museum Gallery Pasig City Philippines, in 2001 at Cultural Center of the Philippines Pasay City Philippines and in 2008 at the White Cube Gallery, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, curated by a leading Filipino Art Critic Emmanuel Eric Torres.

From 1995 to 1999 he is one of the Artist- in Residence of the Art & Associates Gallery now Avellana Gallery and from 1999 to 2005 he is one of the exhibiting artist of The Drawing Room Contemporary and   from 2005 to 2010 he is the director of his Art Project - Artists –run Independent Art Space, at the same time he is the painting department program coordinator and Art instructor from his Alma Mater now Institute of Fine arts and design {IFAD}.

On February of 2010 he migrated from the Philippines to the United States and became an Independent artist based in Carol Stream a suburb near Chicago Illinois.

 

 

Figuring the Body

FIGURING THE BODY

Bone and flesh, skin and sinew, veins and blood, visage, torso, limbs and extremities: reduced to their physiognomic delineations, the human body is not much different from that of a lowly beast. And yet, by what marvel of Divine creation is the immense complexity of the interrelated workings behind this machine of humankind, itself a perfect work of art but accursed with mortal fate, and which begins to die thereafter the first inhalation of breath.

“Figuring the Body” is an exploration into the aesthetic and psychic identity of the human body, that fleshly terrain of pain and desire, pleasure and activity, energy and debilitation, ecstasy and exhaustion, instrument of bliss and superb engineer of procreation. Finally, in the end, whether ravaged by illness and disease or snuffed by accident or self-destruction, whether consumed by fire or gnawed by earth, this frail vessel of spirit will give up the ghost.

The artists in this show, curated by Robert Besana for Galerie Anna, share the secret of their insights, in varying shades of enlightenment and indeed, puzzlement, each artwork an aperture opening into a region of knowledge that hopefully sheds a ray of light into this most confounding of mysteries: the human body.​

 

Havent Stopped Dancing Yet

 

A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME

 

                        Nicolas Poussin (1594-1605), master exponent of French classical painting, created the work A Dance to the Music of Time, depicting four female dancers, hand in hand swaying to the lyre music of an old man. The four women represented the four seasons and their succeeding  passages through time, here symbolized by the ancient musician. This painting is at the heart of the solo exhibition “Ferdie Cacnio: Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet.” The show celebrates a decade of his dance paintings and sculptures,  with new works now view at the Galerie Anna.

                        To be sure, dance has always been depicted in ancient Egyptian tombs, Greek vases and bas-reliefs, Roman and Etruscan frescoes with their dancing bacchantes, down through the centuries, which saw another French master, Matisse,  depicting the subject in his typical simplified forms in large decorative panels, as well as his series of paper cut-outs, “Dance for Joy.”  The other painter who celebrated dance was Edgar Degas with his ballerinas delineated while in rehearsal, performance, and in repose. In Philippine art, National Artists Fernando Amorsolo and Carlos “Botong” Francisco featured our native dances, notably the tinikling. In particular, another National Artist, the late J. Elizalde Navarro, filled large canvases of exotic Balinese dances after his many visits to the Indonesian isle.

                        What distinguishes Cacnio from these artists who explored dance as a subject is that he himself is an active practitioner of the art. Not of the classical ballet, which has become a trademark of his art, but of modern dance, having done stints on television and the movies, indeed winning in dance competitions. Choreographers from classical ballet groups have in fact taken notice of his impressive height and virile strength and performance, making him a potential premier danseur in their imagination, but their invitations to Cacnio were unheeded. For the artist was keenly aware of his own temperament that will not easily submit to a choreographer’s  imperious will and dictate. Cacnio had taken to heart the words of choreographer Merce Cunningham: “You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no painting to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.”

                        Cacnio is clearly an exception to this understandable recrimination. As an artist himself capable of capturing the power and drama of dance through another medium, Cacnio has already created a still growing body of work, as attested by several exhibitions devoted to the subject.  Of his sculptural works, we have written:

                        “The essential impulse in Cacnio’ sculptures is the pursuit of the expressive gesture, specifically an arrested moment that seems like an eternal pause.  Though still and immobile, the lone dancer’s pose captures at once the elasticity of tension and the repose of isolation --- in the flailing of the arms, in the seemingly fluid rushing of sprightly feet, in the sailing of the body through the air, as if the space itself were the hollowed volume from which the sculptural figure had been carved.

                        Indeed, each part of the dancer’s physiognomy, each detail of her accoutrements, quickens our interest in her. From the vertiginous stiletto heels that look like a pair of dangerous instruments to the compressed flesh heaving beneath a stifling bodice, Cacnio is in control of his material. What awakens the audience to the thrill of her “performance” is the pleasurable vivacity of the vicarious experience, as any minute now, one expects the house to erupt into thunderous applause.

                        With the suavity of a trained stage performer, Cacnio shapes and molds the figure with the musicality of a born choreographer, swept by his own internal rhythm. By turns earthbound and spiritual, his dancers possess the compressed energy and fury of bodies articulating universal emotions ---joy and celebration, grief and despair r---  in the purest and distilled expression that dance can communicate.”

                        Cacnio’s  paintings of  dancers, however, were rendered with intensity and speed of brushstrokes, as though, not wanting to miss a beat, the artist instantaneously grasped the afterimage left by the dancer’s split-second movements and the flurry of their garments or outfits.  Visages and torsos, arms and legs and toes are mere silhouettes which direct our gaze to the motivation of the movement. As dancer-choreographer Doris Humphrey emphasized in her book “The Art of Making Dances”:  a movement without a motivation is unthinkable. Some force is the cause for change of position, whether it is understandable or not. This applies not just to dancing, but to the physical world in general.

                        The challenge and triumph of Ferdie Cacnio’s art has to do with the difficult task of transcending one art, dance, and transmitting its dynamics and energies through another medium. For, as Humphrey, totally self-protective of her art, never forgets reminding her audience: the dancer’s medium is the body, not paint or stone or sound. Cacnio’s  decade-long wonder and fascination with dance has made him its most worthy acolyte. This show is his own dance to the music of time.

                       

 

                       

                       

                       

 

 

 

BULL IN THE HEATHER

Bull in the Heather

Bull In The Heather, the titular song by Sonic Youth, and so named after a real Kentucky derby horse, is poised for this exhibit as a metaphorical open source to the myriad readings on power dynamics, value, labor, craft, functionalism,   mysticism, primal instincts, spectatorship, and performance, especially set on the strength and idiosyncratic vision of the artists involved, as to be an artist requires a considerable degree of conviction as headstrong as a prized race horse.

The song, with the exhibit not entirely being about it and for it, serves as a prompt as well as to embody the fervor and attitude of an inter-generational discourse pop savvy on such issues.  We are after all molded by the music we listen to, the films and TV programs we watch, the books we read, where we mine mostly the meaning of our existence, gleaning from the troubled and awkward age of our first awakening.   The song, however, and its entire inherent connotation, is not to be read through literally, as the lyrics and the way it was performed by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, comes out as a breathy seductive tease addressed ambiguously to neither man nor animal /creature /being :

Tell me that you wanna scold me
Tell me that you a-dore me
Tell me that you're famous for me
Tell me that yr gonna score me
Tell me that you gotta show me
Tell me that you need to sorely
Time to tell yr love story
Time f'r turning over and over
Time f'r turning four leaf clover
Betting on the bull in the heather

“Time to tell your love story “. For this exhibit it, is a love story as an op-ed confessional, broadly expressed as dainty wispy pen strokes of biomorphic expulsions , as sensuous lines streaming into rivulets of mane and waves of nymphs, as finely cut embroidered appliques of pre-pubescent girls, as  dense as a rubber tires bound by netted lace,  as vivid splashes of purple and tangerine on writhing bound bodies, or as brash as a glittered banner extolling anatomical proprietorship.

We thus embolden you to take on this exhibit as a Trojan gift horse to be looked on in its mouth, its ears, its teeth, its full form, inside and out, lest it gallops away with all your bets, for this art show will be gone, too soon.