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Monday, March 1, 2010

OROQUIETA


EXHIBITION NOTES
By Dave Lock Jr. and JCrisanto Martinez


Sigwada Gallery, an emerging alternative art venue, proudly presents an exhibition of the works of four upcoming visual artists. Titled “Oroquieta,” the exhibition features the works of Burog Alvarado, Indigo Narra, Wayan Narra and Dee Sarno.

Opening on March 2, 2010 at 6:00 p.m. and continuing until March 17, 2010, “Oroquieta” is a compelling journey that travels through the conjunctions, contradictions and convolutions of the cultural terrain that has endured seasons and systems. If we are to illustrate the contours of a preface of the contemporary arts in the street called Oroquieta in Sta. Cruz, Manila, we foreground the enduring careers of some artists/artisans/craftsmen who can best serve not so much as archetypes, but as criterion and exemplification of broader propensities in the aesthetics of the Oroquieta Street.

The images of Burog Alvarado rendered in pen and ink drawings come as negra-blanca, illustrative of the thin line that traverses the maximalist elements of chaos in his drawings and the integral calm meditation that engulfs the artist at work. Alvarado is in full control of the medium, with the lines and illustrations forcing themselves straight from the domain of his ideas. His series contains a central apparition reminiscent to the infamous Santisima Dela Muerta, and the image of the Virgin Mary, as Oroquieta is made popular for its merchandise of hand-carved icons. Burog retains his personal identity through the incorporation of the elements that he usually employs within his masterpieces: skulls, guns, and monstrous, alien-like creatures swarming around the four corners of his work much like the tattoos that inhabit his skin.

Dee Sarno is a young rising artist who plays with his fondness of piercing and tattooing incorporates it with his flesh-colored bone-like reliefs, causing a highly-detailed representation of penetrated dots into his resin medium. Sarno examined the symbols that lay in the path that sprouted as Oroquieta Street. Relic-like, Sarno’s pieces detailed a personal interpretation of the symbiosis of land, locality and communion creating artworks which are visually more than epidermal and are very much calcified like a skeletal fragment hardened by a solid pack of osteocytes. And it is in this unique style of presentation and representation that Sarno as visual artist successfully expresses his identity, flesh-colored bone-like. Perhaps it is natural, emanating from his inherent sense of art. Perhaps because it is pure.

The pictographs of the past become visible in the rendition of the “common tao” in the figurative expression of the portraits by Indigo Narra and Wayan Narra. Evoking a sense of nostalgia, the images in the canvases of the Narra brothers are dark, solitary figures with deep, penetrating gazes that attempt to catch the viewer’s eyes. These are the figures that are hungry to converse and wanting to tell their stories. Yet beyond the nostalgia, the Narra brothers rendered their artworks in mixed media over canvas. Thickly impastoed, the paintings convey the continuing development of a race-moment-milieu were the dominating sepia-based color palette run in contrast/complement with the modern medium and mode of execution. This transference is substantiated by the integration of socio-cultural-political concepts by the artists in their artworks, deepening the conversation between the viewer and the impastoed figures on the canvases by an interrelation of the common desire of both audience and these figures in the continued wanting for change and development/improvement.

The achievements that can be gained from and in Oroquieta are for those who are adept of seizing the opportunity, to research, view, listen, hear, taste, feel, read and comprehend its history, to examine its meaning, and redirect them proactively and positively in a medium of expression. Oroquieta must continue to procreate so as to give birth to artists and works of art. It shall endure interpretation and reinterpretation just as its reality has been upheld with the tinge of tradition, history and purpose both from within and beyond.

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