NEWS

Sunday, April 18, 2010

BUNTONG HININGA


Buntong Hininga by Leslie de Chavez
April 21, 2010, Wednesday
6-9 pm

For the first time in seven years, Leslie De Chavez releases his frustration and disappointment in the Philippines' history of struggle and shortcoming in the Philippines… and this time with a big and loud sigh.

Philippine socio-politics has been the keystone of De Chavez's art since 2002, and he expresses it without words or sound, but with images and colors that blare out very strong ideas and resonating emotions. This show,entitled Buntong Hininga, realizes (what he feels is) the Filipino reply to socio-political reality: the collective sigh. De Chavez describes it as “for the most time, the immediate or probably the only thing we can do” when faced with such dim situations.

It is without coincidence that De Chavez’s work comes at a most fitting time. With election fever on its final and most crucial course, De Chavez fills the three exhibition spaces of Silverlens Gallery with paintings, installations and video projections with themes only too familiar to the Filipino people. With the cancers born from colonization, poverty and disorder firmly embedded in society, Filipinos are more than aware of the corrupted state of Philippine socio-politics.

Using symbolism, set within his characteristic quiet, dark and ghoulish backdrop, De Chavez creates a narrative that is critical, but is also searching. In the painting, Front Acts, De Chavez fills the large canvass with allegorical references – from the words ‘Bahala na (So be it)’ spelled out with pieces of bone sprawled on the floor for the world to see, to the hypocrisy of a man who covers his face from the smoke he himself is emitting; from a priest, whose head is a beach ball, holding a faceless Sto. Niño to a man with earphones that have bound him in the wrists.

With ideas of “self-preservation, spiritual decay, dissatisfaction, corruption, and culture of impunity”, Buntong Hininga reminds Filipinos of the inspiration Philippine social and political history never provided, and gives a glimpse of the possible future. We sigh at what is, and mourn for ‘what could be’.

While Buntong Hininga is De Chavez’s “breathe-out of accumulated sentiments, experiences, disappointments, observations and imaginations about [Filipino] contemporary life and its imperfections”, it is at the same time, De Chavez’s plea.

De Chavez aims to create productivity and possibility where Philippine socio-politics remains wanting. Buntong Hininga is to stir up various emotions and opinions, and be an “opportunity to re-think [past and present]”. And above all, one should wonder if one can do more than just sigh.

Buntong Hininga by Leslie De Chavez opens on April 21,2010 at Silverlens Gallery SLab.


Words: Bea Davila, Image: Leslie de Chavez, Front Acts, 2010

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