Should we ever compile a Philippine version of Art Review’s annual Power List, these ladies will surely make the cut. Nona Garcia, Geraldine Javier, and Yasmin Sison first burst into the Southeast Asian art scene via their show Silent Declarations at Valentine Willie Fine Art in KL nine years ago. They helped pave the way for Filipino emerging artists to seep into the consciousness of audiences outside Manila’s cocoon. A few years later came the auctions, and with a little help from Sotheby’s and Christies, the three ladies firmly established their reputations as art superstars. Together with Elaine Navas, a Singapore-based Filipina painter (who the three have all professed boundless admiration for) they headline West Gallery’s offerings for this month:
Nona Garcia, Before The Sea
When Nona Garcia chooses to go big time, she goes massive. One work makes up this show, a finely painted view of the sea that extends 20 feet long, covering the long wall of West Gallery’s main space.
In tones of black and gray, the oil on canvas piece must be seen in its actual state for it to make an impact. You don’t get a sense of its scale from photographs, nor can you appreciate Nona’s delicate strokes unless you stand before it. In keeping with the artist’s recent series of works, she has finished the painting in a specially commissioned black wooden frame that also supports the piece’s light source, both duly magnified to fit the painting’s size.
In the darkened gallery, lit only from the bulb attached to the painting’s frame, the viewer catches the sea perhaps at the break of day, perhaps right before nightfall. Nona has painted a calm sea that stretches endlessly onto the distance. In the cramped windowless space, she has transported you to the shore.
To highlight the exaggerated proportions of her painting, Nona has juxtaposed it with its mini-me: a foot-long maquette of the gallery with the painting inside, identical to her installation to the last detail.
Elaine Navas, Interiors
In contrast to Nona’s monochromatic sea, Elaine Navas’ impastos explode with color and texture. Her large-scale paintings recreate Robert Polidori’s celebrated photographs that document the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina on homes in New Orleans.
Polinari has received both praise and rebuke for imbuing disaster with beauty, glorifying tragedy and death. We get a sense of that in this show of Ms. Navas’ paintings– the incongruity of bright pinks, greens, and yellows amidst chaos and destruction, the pull of pockmarked walls scarred by whipping winds, the allure of a dining table teetering as it holds the remnants of what could have been a family’s last meal.
Geraldine Javier, 2012 Inventory
Yasmin Sison, Storybook Collages
Coincidentally, both Geraldine Javier and Yasmin Sison decided to pursue collages for their exhibits. Yasmin’s collages are more familiar. She has shown them intermittently in the last few years. Gepetto’s Workshop and Thumper’s Song made use of images cut out from pages of Disney books. This current series, made from kits that kids put together to build castles, deliver the same sense of lively innocence.
In November 2011, Geraldine mounted her Museum of Many Things at Valentine Willie Fine Art (vwfa) in Singapore. The show marked a departure from her previous work in that her paintings did not take center stage. She showcased natural history specimens and objects, dressed up and embellished with embroidery and tatting, framed or installed in glass vitrines. This show seems to keep to that vein.
Originally, Geraldine meant to simply fabricate collages from prints acquired in Paris and a sizeable trove of knick-knacks. After her pieces had been framed, she felt they needed something more. Assemblages from found objects, injected with elements made from traditional craft making techniques, add an old-fashioned, folk art naiveté to her work.
Before The Sea Nona Garcia, Interiors Elaine Navas, Geraldine Javier 2012 Inventory, and Storybook Collages Yasmin Sison run from 9 to 27 October 2012 at West Gallery, 48 West Avenue, Quezon City. Phone (632) 411-9221 or 411-0336 or visit www.westgallery.org