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Thursday, September 15, 2011

HEAD SERIES COLLAGES – ROBERTO CHABET’S WORKS ON PAPER





Head Series Collages - Roberto Chabet’s Works on Paper

In a series of collages, Roberto Chabet used an iconic headshot of 1970s supermodel Lauren Hutton by renowned photographer Irving Penn as the base layer for each composition. Although her face and characteristic gap-toothed smile never becomes visible. Only her mud-drenched hair and the page number, “89”, are discernible on the perimeter areas. These collages were produced in the late 1980s (between 1986 to 1988) and were first shown in 1995 as part of a group exhibition titled Unglued held at the West Gallery (West Avenue) and curated by Nilo Ilarde. Unframed and mounted in a grid, the works were then identified as 52 Untitled Collages. Over thirty works from this group now form the Head Series collages but this time pinned neatly on board and boxed in a simple wooden frame.

Collage making has been a significant part of Chabet’s artistic practice since the 1960s. In many ways, its aesthetics and process also resonate in his site-specific and installation works that assemble together found and fabricated objects. Collages are pictorial compositions made by gluing scraps of paper and found objects. Although it may seem spontaneous and arbitrary, its elements are cautiously and consciously selected. One may ask such questions as what sort of combination, what kind of scraps and where did they come from?

Collages have also been correlated with the act of collecting or may be deemed as a collection. In the case of Chabet, his materials come from the multifarious piles of paper, memorabilia, and mundane objects kept through the years. But unlike the typical collector, he is not concerned with keeping objects in pristine condition that inevitably suppresses the conditions of how they were acquired. For example, a letter envelope from a relative is hastily opened by hand, a page from a magazine torn quickly. These objects already function as signs of the passage of history, very much like a diary. Thus, a collage becomes a social document.

After a closer and intimate view of each work, one can decipher Chabet’s references to art history through images of works by Renaissance masters and early 20th century modernists. It is fitting that he incorporates a work by German artist Kurt Schwitters, known for his thousands of collages and sculptural assemblages known as Merz constructions. Images of political events are juxtaposed in the form of graphic accounts clipped from newspapers, such as one documenting the toppling of the Lenin bronze figure in Latvia in 1988.

The exhibit of Chabet’s Head Series is a joint project of the Galleria Duemila and King Kong Art Projects Unlimited as part of the yearlong Roberto Chabet: Fifty Years project.

The exhibit opens on 3 September, Saturday at 4 pm and will run until 27 September. Galleria Duemila is located at 210 Loring Street, Pasay City. For more information, call 8319990 or visit the website www.galleriaduemila.com and www.kingkongartprojects.org.

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