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Thursday, January 8, 2009

RELEEGIOUS PAINTINGS


Romeo Lee

ReLEEgious Paintings

10 January - 5 February 2009

The world becomes his oyster, especially for one who habitually inserts himself in the thicket of oft-quote phrases and in the surfeit of popular imagery. The so-called realm of the divine is not even spared. The painted picture becomes his own created world. This is as reiterated once again in Romeo Lee's latest solo exhibit ReLEEgious paintings opening at the Mag:net on January 10.


He treads on the path he knows too well and twists it a bit for his trademark irreverence that puncture not a graven hole but one that rather pinches at cheeky butts.


As he would so often do with his shows, he claims words as titular pun novelties on his name (e.g. Normalee, Leeing - a play on the movie title The Ring, Monay Leesa, etc,), his face photo-shopped over postcard reproductions of renaissance paintings, donning wigs or hats at times, resulting in hokey impersonations of clich
es that have become ubiquitous with the throwaways and refuse of thrift shop retailing, a trade which Lee after all has full mastery of.


The paintings, rendered in his perfunctory way of laying down pigments as lurid as the situations he portrays, casts himself as the Virgin Mary emitting fluorescent glow under a floating text that spells IMAGINE, or as Saint Francis tending to pets by his feet, his head glowing with the radiance of a nuclear fall-out amidst a mountain range neatly lined by power grids, the word LOVE spelled out in a font that ends ambiguously as bone joints or hearts. In one work, he paints himself as the Sto. Nino hoisted up in a ghostly Halloween procession and flanked by Chief Blue Meanie and Nowhere Man, characters from the animated Beatles film The Yellow Submarine. In another, he appears as a resurrected Christ descending from heaven and appearing to a lone woven-hatted figure in the foreground. All these sport no less Lee's characteristic cleft chin, easily surmisable as part vanity/part hilarious poking at creationism, a Sistine chapel pirated transcription lost in the subtitling.


This suite of works he calls as releegious paintings, but the other works mixed in to rouse up the m
elange and deftly expose the sham of the genre with paintings of wrinkly crones bending over with their flesh hanging loose, crouched beggars contorted to resemble apples rotted through by plump worms, and a smattering of fleshy bums shitting over flowers or just flagrantly exposed as lumps of coiled fatty tissue - these all seem to suggest a sardonic punch line on where humans must have really come from.


It's all downright farce, to look for a moral here is absurd. It is after all a painter's lone attempts in ingratiating himself to his own private Valhalla, as religiously as he would with his craft.
The stuff of legends is no truer than the gods molded with their own dreams.


ReLEEgious Paintings will be on view until February 5. Mag:net Gallery is located at 335 Agcor Building, Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City. For details or inquiries, contact the gallery at 929-31-91 or email info@magnetgalleries.com or visit www.magnetgalleries.com.

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