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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

INDESTUCTIBLE BABIES


Miko Sandejas
Indestructible Babies (New Drawings)
23 May - 25 June 2009

Alive and dead the graphite awaiting signs of life the drawing hand marks the line between the living and the dead perhaps some wishful thinking that these images of catatonia could switch from being "still life" to playthings amusing the imagination some distant imaginings which may still be budding and precocious to conjure games, dreams and more toys of the mind. These could be the telltale clues that preclude all art, though inanimate, may one day take the sensuous forms of sculpture, of murals and monuments as though living testimonies of life shaped by the creative. But momentarily the prowess lies on the power of the lead tip to bring back to 2-dimensional existence the vagaries of the 3-dimensional.

This first solo exhibition of Miko Sandejas belies the fact that artists summarily execute their genius by the tip of a Mongol or a Steadler, for that matter. Drafting is the mother of all recorded art. The things we see in our mind's eye will soon be unleashed by the mere contact of lead on paper surface. Miko, if you have talked with him for more than 3 instances on art, would come across to you as a thinker sifting through volumes of art information with a kind of indiscreet crusade to save painting, at least, from mindless inauthenticity. You would conclude by then on your 4th or 5th conversation with him that on the works presently displayed he had modestly chosen the medium of pencil to sparingly funnel onto paper the massive ricocheting ideas he had been brewing up in months. Someone who had studied seriously painting (especially under Roberto Chabet) in the UP College of Fine Arts and earning units in art history can be likened to Don Quixote braving an art world in full swing in its marketability and more so plummeting into commercialism. Miko's works would strike as one rare fish swimming upstream against the tide of the sleek and the likable art we commonly see nowadays. He would be a lonely soul up for grabs, not on the bargaining table, but on what matters in art. The pencil shall speak as powerful as oil paint, canvas, bronze, marble or any expensive vehicle to connect things of the real to the unreal, between life and the lifeless.

Miko had referenced particularly these images of dolls he copied by hand based on photographs. But that's not all. He mentioned that in this imaging process a Paul Klee image the Angelus Novus (or new angel, perhaps angel of what is novel), a lone floating figure from a nebulous domain of unreality, arrived as a convenient visual nexus point. Klee as master draftsman of childlike naivete may have marked significantly in the conception of the show simply to present evidence that no amount of pigmentation nor technical justification (as can be seen immediately in the color translucency and definitive drawing axis in Klee's art) may run counter to the inarguable supremacy of drawing as the first line of conception in art and maybe the last interpretative grid when looking at a picture. The Thinking Eye Klee's magnum opus book may strike a chord to Sandejas' works since, like Klee, there is something more than the image that fascinates the eye. The "whys" stirring the inquisitive thought more than the "how's" that lays premium to precise technique is where the aesthetic balance rests.

For Miko the whole set of drawings, when hanged, should be viewed as a set of disconnected diagrams. In addition, diagrams from the craft of paper folding figured in his production. Paper folding diagrams shape the 2-dimensional into a half-step higher close to 3-D and yet retains its lovely flimsiness. In drawing you could play with the image, with your hands, with the paper you draw on. The graciousness of drawing's freedom is its own law. In explaining why dolls for a subject matter, Blade Runner, the cult sci-fi flick of dark future, was also discussed by the artist. The movie highlighted lifelike robot dolls as artificial flesh. This then would correspond, according to Sandejas, to paintings as depictions of artificial life, like vinyl dolls.

In my conversation with Miko, he looked back to Holbein's warped hidden skull in The Ambassadors along with musings on the "still life" as reminders of death. Behind every still life hides a skull; the sign of decay. The still life motif ("vanitas") as painting and drawing epitomizes life's vain preoccupations and desires, reminders of our fleshly mortality. Life can be dead still. Collectible dolls reverberate as grotesque signs of vanitas and stiller life. Inversely, artificial life/dolls are visions of immortality too. These drawings reverberate in that way.

The nuances of the lightness of touch, the gravity of shading, the density of tones and the varied directions of strokes from Sandejas' hand may show drawing's unique virtue to simulate life from a dead object. This is the living drama of drawing. Artists draw to draw life even from cadavers. We may conclude on this note: Not by our innate fascination with what snuffs out life but with what drives us to rise above dark death shall we find the gift of drawing as a lasting itch (that won't go away) artists would scratch for years to come. Come to think of it, the art of drawing doesn't die so easily.

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 infor@magnetgalleries.com or visit www.magnetgalleries.com

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