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Monday, November 23, 2009

AMBIGUOUS ICONOGRAPHY


"Ambiguous Iconography", Vincent Padilla and Grandier
Your Friendly Modern Painters Live Next Door
By Jay Bautista

For art historian Erwin Panofsky, a significant work of art must be able to distinguish as to what the viewer sees or what he termed as appearance from whatever pre-conceived meanings or any second or deeper reading of the image on the art work itself. It is to this basic premise that Vincent Padilla and Grandier have conceptualized their two-man show, Ambiguous Iconography.

Padilla continuous with his obsession with overweight subjects as slobs represents the excessive nature most of us may probably imbibe. In exploring this common culture of overindulgence, Padilla reflects this to us in an in-your-face reminder of what we could possible be. He has remained confident, effective and fun with this distinct style.

There is something in the air of Antipolo that makes artists out of its residents and in Padilla, being the youngest member of the Salingpusa art group, the influences are still evident although he has managed to have his own particular brushstrokes. In Barong Tagaalog and Baro’t Sayang, he places an opaque texture and a very detailed callado-finish of our traditional Philippine attire against the voluptuous body of the bearer. An ambiguity indeed and the contrast and the direct contact of the jusi with the one’s skin send shivers to those who view it. Admittedly, even if you are wearing our national costume it doesn’t guarantee your patriotism. It could just be skin-deep for many have already used, abused, and overused the manner of wearing them with unpatriotic thoughts in mind like corruption, lust, sloth or greediness. Padilla even coined it as “public free service.”

In Laughing Bondat, “slobness” is more than being a glutton or obese, that you may not even be fat but you could be a certified blue slob with how you perceive or are perceived by people. Even in thoughts one can be full of deceit and caprice.

For Grandier, one’s sense of uncertainty may not necessarily equate to ambivalence. As one advances in life, confusion may not necessarily mean indecision on his part. The more man exists the more he is confronted with questions and even more choices. “One cannot ignore the present harsh realities we encounter around us, the burden of living and surviving affects us all. Amidst these circumstances, we are left to ourselves to comprehend and determine our course of action.” Grandier emphasizes.

How Grandier depicted man’s ambiguity in the melancholic piece The Present Scheme proves the point. As fate would have it, as he was preparing for this exhibition, recent events like the victims of typhoon Ondoy got him on another level of anxiety. Like a true artist, one witnesses man’s vulnerability and impermanence of one’s existence as we observe the said work.

With absence of negative images, Grandier relies much on the realism of photography as an approach for his message to come across. In Past Descending, evident in the withdrawn emotions, darker hues and the shadow of concern abound as the hyper-real expressions makes an effort to reflect in a mirror-like manner the many tensions within him. As it connotes, the past are what he perceive as earlier contentions and learning points in one’s life. It could be our degrading environment, useless governance of our public officials, or as basic as the security of one’s family.

After ten years as an art director, like an old true love, he comes back to painting. Noticing the personal and social changes in his career have started to seep in, Grandier is at an emerging phase of his artistry, the show is another way of testing another artistic style or a creative act of questioning.

With crumpled paper representing his meaningful experiences, Grandier comes out hopeful with Future Ascending as the ironic clear depiction and positive gestures of his main representation, as opposed with the other two works. “We have to make sense as to the clutter that surrounds us” Grandier eventually points out.

Padilla and Grandier are the chroniclers of our time and maybe in our neighborhood. By forced circumstance, they do not have much choice but to do what an artist is obligated to do – to paint the dilemma as a continuous struggle for resolution and fulfillment.

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