Life and Love, Death and Godin “Broad Strokes”
“Humankind cannot bear too much reality.” Thus the words of the greatest poet of the 20th century, T. S. Eliot. The burden of existence carries just so many complications that challenge human endurance and resignation, leading nowhere but to misery, despair, and ultimately, both physical and spiritual death. This was in fact the essential conundrum behind Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land,” the title of which aptly describes man’s existence laid waste, irretrievably and with finality.
In the visual arts, it is the medium of painting that has carried the burden of visualizing and reflecting on the human condition, in all its vagaries and confusions. Thus, the procession of art movements that explored, in a succession of revolution and counter-revolution, the different facets of humanity, in all its gloried celebration and puzzling meaninglessness. Indeed, after the fascination with such novel approaches to art-making (think installations, digital and performance art),have waned, painting is once again in the ascendant, resurrected from the graveyard from whence it was once consigned by trendy and, yes, novel art brokers.
In the current exhibition at Galerie Anna titled “Broad Strokes,” painting, as though in an act of restitution and compensation, makes up for the neglect to which it has been subjected. A dozen artists, all determinedly and predominantly figurative, paint with a resolve that tackles all the perpetual themes of human existence.They are Brian Teves, Lester Rodriguez, Efren Carpio, Fernando Antimano, Marvin Quizon, Jonathan Castro, Mel Cabriana, Janelle Tang, Jeffrey Salon, Mark Lester Espina, Dawn Arcamo, and Arman Jay Arago. These are the soul-searching artists whose canvases are saturated with the fervor and vehemence of their conviction.
Brian Teves’s “Bring Me To Life” and “Chasing the Light” both pull the viewer by the seductive explicitness of the subject. Both are tangible appearances of two women, one naked and the other ethereally robed, but both are invested with angel wings; the nude, with elegantly tattooed wings on her back; the other, in ecstatic flight to the Source of Light. Several works of Teves in the past have already mined the angelic image as a propelling force in his art.
“Cold Play” by Lester Rodriguez is like an eerie still life of a dump-yard where a litter of plastic toy soldiers, in various arrested motions of battle, becomes a metaphor for the themes of war, violence, destruction, and death. The work is a searing reflection on the fact that childhood is the breeding ground for the acceptance of war as mere child-play, writ large with real weapons of destruction.
An enigmatic work by Efren Carpio is a serial imagery of a young girl,with a burst of blossoms emerging from her mouth, suggestive inevitably of childhood’s favorite cotton candy, but bears, to be sure, a far less saccharine message, judging from its sardonic title: “Sugar Coating.”
“Lady with Piglet” is a comic and affectionate send-up of “Lady with Ermine.” It is attributed to Da Vinci. In FernandoAntimano’s amusing work, the artistic process of appropriation, beloved of the young, rears its hydra-headed countenance, sending off sparks of meanings that only a wily or perceptive viewer can decipher.
Marvin Quizon takes us on a not-so-jolly joyride as we reflect on “ A Reserved Trip to the Carousel.” Circuses, clowns, and carousels are mythical devices for sinister and horrific goings-on, deceiving the audience, and feigning the innocence, delight, and fun-house world of childhood.
A dig at the Pinoy penchant for affectionately addressing personages of importance is the title of Jonathan Castro’s work: “Papa God.” Rough-hewn, like a wooden sculpture of the Christ, with his hand pointed at the aflamedSacred Heart, the work intriguingly provokes guilt and repentance.
Mark Espina’s “Smile” is a portrait of a seated woman, with the artist’s purported intent of merely displaying the model’s appeal and pulchritude. The artist, however, stands the art of portraiture on its head, by ingenuously depicting her dress as a multilayered impasto application of white pigments, thereby effectively effacing the achieved illusion of the subject.
“Swatches” by Janelle Tang invites us to a perception of a self-contained world as a virtual collage of experiences filtered through a feminine, more specifically, a domestic sensibility. Studiously delicate and gentle, a pastel-colored universe, the work is gracefully underscored by images redolent of flowers, fairy tales, and womanly crafts.
Dawn Arcamo’s “Descend” conflates a welter of bold geometric patterns, stripes, fractals and Escher-like illusions, startled by a flight of birds. The presence of a woman in the central area surrounded by all the spatial paths strengthens its lineage descended from Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical urban landscapes.
Three works by Mel Cabriana might at first seem like each has gone on a diverging separate path, but all in fact share a collective glimpse of reality, with a manic resolve to evade it. “Ilusyon” depicts an amorphous figure behind a white shroud struggling to set itself free. Likewise, in “Fragile,” a female nude is trapped within a constricting bubble-wrap. In “Hidden Smiles,” thick foliage and vegetation serve as camouflage for unseen forces leering at the viewer. (Try hard enough and
An unlikely vision worthy of a comic Magritte, the Belgian master of surrealism, are the two works of Arman Jay Arago, respectively titled “No Waste” and “Shrimp.” A voluptuous nude reemerges with the head of a chicken and a pink crustacean.
GalerieAnna presents“Broad Strokes” as a show that depicts humankind struggling to bear the curse of too much reality.