Dashing Through Manila’s Art Scene (ie Catching What I Can)

Annie Cabigting, Warhol's grave, for "Black and White Under A Shroud of Gray and Gray"

Apologies for the sparse postings, but somehow, a project we undertook a few months ago has morphed into Art Fair Philippines 2013, and now it seems that every free minute of the day has been devoted to that beast!  For more information—yes, shameless plug!—please do check out www.artfairphilippines.com or https://www.facebook.com/artfairph Continue reading

Catching Up On Manila’s Art Scene: Troy Ignacio at The Drawing Room, Ley Hunting at Silverlens, An Auction at Finale, Spanish Artists at DAGC, and Erwin Leano and Wataru Sakuma at Art Informal

Wataru Sakuma, "Roxas Blvd" at Map, Art Informal

Doing the rounds of galleries gave way to other projects these past few weeks, but this weekend proved a good time to catch up on Manila’s offerings: Continue reading

At Finale: Yason Banal, Soler, and Liv Vinluan

Photo on canvas, image from Strikeanyspace Whatever Trading

Manila does not see new work from an international roster of artists everyday. Those eager to experience current work from name artists making waves in the global scene must head to Finale Art Gallery, where Yason Banal delivered the art experience of the week.  The gallery has lined up an interesting trio of shows for their patrons this month—just the thing for this spate of holiday weekends. Continue reading

Kiri Dalena’s Washed Out

Kiri Dalena, "Washed Out", video still and installation view

Trust Kiri Dalena to bring recent history home to us without resorting to horrific images of tragedy and destruction, but by making us feel the power of the river at the heart of a natural calamity. Continue reading

Yasmin Sison Explores What’s Underneath The Sky Plus Alternative Collages and Nikki Luna’s Menagerie of Lilies

Yasmin Sison, "Haraya (Underneath The Sky)"

Yasmin Sison revisits familiar elements in this solo exhibit, her first in Manila since her 2009 show, Into The Woods, at SM Art Center.  She returns to her portrayals of children.  This set brings them indoors, away from the forest and the shore that have served as settings for her more recent depictions of kids at play.  These hark back to 2007’s Gingerbread Girls, with the kids seated against a plain backdrop, looking squarely at the viewer. Continue reading

Manila Welcomes Natee Utarit

Natee Utarit, "Economy Lesson"

For many of us who keep abreast of the Southeast Asian contemporary art scene, Natee Utarit is a rock star.  Arguably Thailand’s best-known painter, he enjoys the same stature that Manila accords Ronald Ventura or Geraldine Javier.  Like them, he is a familiar presence in the auction circuit.  Natee has exhibited extensively throughout the region, including solo shows in China and Korea. Last year, the Singapore Art Museum mounted a mid-career retrospective of the 41-year-old’s work. Continue reading

Mark Justiniani Goes 3D

Mark Justiniani, "Impasse"

As he prepared for this exhibit, Mark Justiniani would wake up excited every morning. “A little nervous too”, he added, “as if I were a young artist just doing his first show!” Five notebooks and his iPad had been filled with scribbles in black ink. The sketches served as studies and ruminations, his preparations for the series of works now making their debut at Finale Art Gallery. Continue reading

Lyra Garcellano’s Epistolary

Lyra Garcellano, "Aria"

After disappearing for a year, spending six months of 2010 in an Asian Cultural Council grant in New York, Lyra Garcellano has come back with wonderful new work.  In Epistolary, her solo exhibit at Finale Art File, Lyra has treated us to five paintings she describes as imprints.  Faint figures whisper from her canvases, barely discernible through her loose pastel strokes.  All of women, their floral frocks blur into the background, creating sheer, almost abstract, patterns.  Her paintings have always stood out for their delicacy and softness, and evoke a sense of romantic melancholia.  This set keeps to that sensibility,  progressing naturally from her previous pieces.  To me, they seem to project a more confident Lyra.

Continue reading

Nilo Ilarde Thinks About Paintings

Appropriating Kippenberger: Dear Painter, Paint For Me

So what exactly is a painting?  That seems to be the question that Nilo Ilarde asks us to consider as we make our way around the colossal pieces of Painting As Something And The Opposite of Something, his solo exhibit currently on view at Finale Art File.

On a visual level, the show is spectacular.  We get that wow factor without feeling overwhelmed by the number and the size of his work. While we see treatment that recall past pieces (words scraped on the wall, empty tubes of paint), we come upon surprising additions.             

We all know that Nilo puts his curatorial stamp on a good number of shows in Manila.  So he knew exactly how to work with Finale’s expansive Tall Gallery.  But we also know that Nilo challenges on another, more cerebral, level.  And his exhibits engage all the more because of that.

For starters, we have been asked to suspend our conventional notion of paintings, and accept the five pieces he has on view as his paintings, unorthodox as that may sound.

The first of those five immediately catches our eye. Scratched out in gigantic letters that fill most of the gallery’s long wall, Nilo appropriates Martin Kippenberger’s cheeky request:  Dear Painter, Paint For Me. The line comes from the title of Kippenberger’s seminal suite of works from 1981 that also turned painting on its ear. Kippenberger had a sign painter execute his portraits in various stage-managed tableaux.  In Nilo’s piece, the statement on the wall is itself the finished product. You have a painting, albeit one that had undergone the reverse process from the norm.  Paint has carefully been stripped off wood, rather than brushed on it.

At the foreground, "The Void Speaks In Each Painting, Between The Brushstrokes"

Across from this, we see a glass receptacle that houses hundreds of used paint tubes.  We saw about half this amount in 2009, as I Have Nothing to Paint, and I’m Painting It.  Now with double the number collected from various artists, Nilo has transformed the piece into The Void Speaks In Each Painting, Between The Brushstrokes. Here we see the response to Kippenberger’s plea:  Nilo’s colleagues, dear painters all, have indeed painted for him.  Composer John Cage once said that the gap between the notes can also be considered as music.  Discarded paint tubes make up a painting’s gap. Thus, these repositories of paint, from which several paintings had been created, collectively make up a painting too.

Beside the amassed tubes hangs a boxing ring’s old floor,

A closer look at the collection of empty paint tubes

resurrected, with much cajoling, from the Elorde Sports Center storage.  This massive square of printed canvas acts as Nilo’s third painting.  He installs this as a diamond, a nod to Mondrian’s Victory Boogie Woogie. Filled with drips of sweat accumulated from the numerous boxers who have sparred on it, their DNA served as the paint that completed the piece.

The Boxing Ring

How can we miss The Road To Flatness? A crushed blue car suspended high above the gallery’s far wall and installed just as a large-scale painting will definitely receive its share of attention. A hired pay loader went to work on an old Volkswagen Beetle until the car had been completely squashed.  The pay loader mimicked an Abstract Expressionist, levelling the car’s figure, obliterating all but it’s basic form.

In Making Nothing Out Of Something, Nilo goes further than merely scraping off paint from the gallery’s walls.  With the intent to start afresh–he uses the term Tabula Rasa– he completely removed all traces of what had been in that portion of the wall, layer by layer, until only empty space remains.  But the irony is, because the emptiness gives us a peek into what we did not see before (Finale’s backroom), he hasn’t really created nothing.  We get a framed look at more paintings—Nilo’s final painting of stacked paintings.            

“The paintings are about paintings thinking about paintings”, is how Nilo explains his work.  We could probably say the same thing about his impact on us.  Once we’ve gone beyond the visual feast, the show gets us thinking about paintings too.  Well, it did me.

Painting As Something And As The Opposite Of Something runs from 9 July to 2 August at the Finale Art File, Warehouse 17, La Fuerza Compound, 2241 Pasong Tamo, Makati City.  Phone (632)813-2310 or visit http://www.finaleartfile.com


Nilo Ilarde, "The Road To Flatness"

Nilo Ilarde, "Making Nothing Out Of Something"