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Friday, January 1, 2010

ANIMA ORIENTALE


About the exhibition:

Elmer Roslin and Dexter Sy present contrasting glimpses into the subconscious in Anima Orientale.

Roslin departs from his usual local street scenes and billiard halls teeming with bystanders. Utilizing his somber acrylic and oil palette, this time he focuses on individuals caught in introspective pauses. His figures, pensive and deadpan, are usually submerged in water, a known symbol for consciousness simmering beneath the surface. In “Embrace,” “At Your Service” and “Afloat”, their heads are cut out--clearly showing us what is on top of their minds. It may be a female figure, a commanding authority, or a man using a telescope to afford a better view of something far away. The artist invites us to take a deeper look into the human psyche with the muted voices that argue within, the varied selves we are all burdened with, as if coaxing them to speak out.

Sy encrypts tattoo-like skeletal images seemingly culled from Santa Muerte illustrations on canvas. With a palpable fascination for death, the artist uses macabre symbolism in skeletons, coffins, snakes and flowers combined with twisted halos and disproportionate angel wings. Vibrant colors make his depictions of hellish scenarios visually appealing, with patterns that invite the viewer’s eyes to take a closer look at the sordid yet clever details. In “IX”, “XII”, and “XIII”, Sy juxtaposes a flaming, thorn-wrapped sacred heart with a barb-tongued angel, a skeleton in priestly vestments with an intricate pattern of objects anchored by hands clasped in prayer, and all-seeing eyes which appear to be everywhere, never blinking.

It is in this sampling of works from these young Filipino artists that we perceive what is not easily known, with haunting images that come from extreme depths of the imagination, traversing the fine line between the lucid and the subliminal. Elmer Roslin and Dexter Sy may be artists from the Orient, but their explorations on canvas show their visions beyond the physical realm bound by cultural and geographical borders. By dissecting these layers of consciousness, their artworks guide us on an image-laden path to intimacy with our more intuitive selves.

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