Three generations of contemporary artists make up the Silverlens Galleries’ offerings for the month: a celebrated Filipino artist in his 50s who now lives in France, a painter in her late 30s from the seminal group Surrounded By Water returning to performance art, and a young artist barely two years out of university experimenting with abstraction.
Taxonomy, Lyra Garcellano with Jeff Carnay
Lyra Garcellano’s recent paintings have dwelt on the notion of memories and their imprints. For Taxonomy, her exhibit now running at Silverlens, she carries through with this fascination, but chooses to do so through a medium she has not worked with in ten years.
“This has been in the back burner for a long time. I did a show at Surrounded By Water, then at Jogjakarta, both in 2002, using postcards with the body as a frame of reference. I wanted to go back to that. And I wanted to also explore the idea of a collaboration. I feel that being solitary always in my art work, well… it’ s an arena I also wanted to move away from.”
Lyra met Jeff Carnay, best known for his performances, five years ago, but they never found a project to do together. When she zeroed in on the idea for this show, she asked him to come on board.
For six months, they worked together to produce this highly amusing collection of portraits. In the tradition of Cindy Sherman and Morimura Yasumasa, Lyra and Jeff assumed various imagined personas from a typical high school class. The nerd, the bully, the tomboy, the flirt—they all find a place in these simulated yearbook photographs. Fifteen black and white photographs make up one piece, each one simply called Yearbook. All in all, they created more than a hundred character sketches.
Jeff explains, “ I felt that we basically made indirect studies of an ecosystem that talks about identities. Most of my performances are about character building, so I wanted to work with Lyra on this.”
While the two had a lot of fun completing the pieces for the show, Lyra described the process as a form of negotiation: respecting their individual paces without infringing on the other. Jeff concurs, and jokingly declares: “Part of the process was not biting each other’s neck too much!”
White Spirit, Gaston Damag
When Paris-based Gaston Damag came home, he went straight to the Mt. Province, in Northern Philippines, where he grew up. Gaston has always anchored his work on his Ifugao roots. We see the fruits of this homecoming in this solo exhibit.
“I always try to find a deeper relationship between the forms you find in Ifugao and contemporary forms and thinking”, Gaston comments as we survey the various pieces that resulted from his month-long sojourn. “This time, I focused on the language of modern design, from the 1920s.”
Heart, for instance, is a wall-bound sculpture from Balangga, Ifugao steel knives, welded together. Chair and Mortar 1 and 2 are from century old wooden mortars, used for pounding rice, set upon steel chairs that echo Gerrit Reitveld, the Dutch designer who championed simple forms for mass production. Ifugao Red 1 and 2 are paintings from chewed betel nuts, spit on the canvas, then subsequently varnished.
“Design is a form of commodity”, continues Gaston. “And these tribal objects become commodities; they don’t have sense anymore once taken out of context. They become like exiles, practically.”
The Mystery of Abstract Jogging, Catalina Africa
How does a 20-something artist, one whose aesthetics lean towards the lowbrow, tackle abstraction?
For her third solo exhibit, Catalina Africa wanted to do something different from the videos, objects, and installation pieces that made up her two previous outings. “It’s my first time to do a painting show. When I was thinking about the kind of abstract painting that I wanted to do, I studied all kinds of abstract painting— abstract expressionism, collages. I tried to do all those approaches. Hindi ako kuntento na one style lang, so I decided to adopt all those techniques.”
Room With Multiple Views, a 3.5 x 4.5 ft painting confronts the viewer, the first thing that welcomes you into the 20 sqm. exhibit space. Catalina painted an abstracted version of her whole exhibit, and this piece contains bits of all her works for the show, a room within a room. “Look at it like a puzzle”, she instructs. “Everything is deliberate, try and put everything together.”
Taxonomy, White Spirit, and The Mystery of Abstract Jogging run from 25 October to 24 November 2012 at Silverlens, 2F YMC Bldg. 2, Don Chino Roces Extension (Pasong Tamo Extension), Makati City. Phone (632) 816-0044 or visit www.silverlensgalleries.com