Monday, November 30, 2009


Roma Valles

About the Exhibition
In Voyage, Roma Valles presents five works in oil that depict man’s journey through life. Painting large-scale everyday scenes and images in realistic, photo-like detail, Valles notes that each of the five pieces “shows a parallelism to everyday challenges and circumstances that we go through.” One of the works, titled “Next in Line” (oil on canvas, 36” x 72”), features a woman waiting in line. “It is a part of life,” observes Valles. “We react to it differently, and how we react to it, patiently or not, gracefully or not, ends up uniquely as a result of our actions.” In “Options,” Valles takes us to a parking lot where there are two cars parked, as if the drivers chose to be early birds. Then, there is “5 a.m. (oil on canvas, 48” x 48”),” where we only see a silhouette of a woman routinely walking through the dark at 5 in the morning. “It shows that familiarity can make our daily lives flow flawlessly, or it may also mean that familiarity can make things very boring.” Valles provides the setting in which viewers can come up with their own stories as the images presented mirror everyday circumstances.

Manok Ventura

About the Exhibition
Manok Ventura, who is exhibiting his works in Gallery 2, draws inspiration from unpleasant experiences and transforms them into aesthetic masterpieces on canvas. Titled “Yesterday,” the exhibit aims to bring the beauty out of the ugly, reversing and restating those undesirable events into works of art, and inviting viewers “look beyond what the naked eye can see.”

Olan Ventura
"Negative Light"

About the Exhibition
Olan Ventura, fresh off an exhibit in Singapore, returns with Negative Light, a telling depiction of vice and deviance in society. Ventura displays such breakaways from social convention in “negative mode,” playing with the tonal inversions of his subjects’ light and dark areas. Inspired by conversations he’s held with people who work in nightclubs and bars, Ventura notes that the themes presented in his works are really happening and that he is painting them as he saw them. Culled from studies of “positive” images, Ventura reverses them into X-ray-like images where viewers could see them in a different light, and then revealing them as the original positive images through a video presentation. He says that he didn’t need to make any new adjustments in the approach; he just needed to find a reason, an outlet in which he could interpret these “taboo” situations, including a large-scale installation of cigarette butts made from plastic resin and acrylic paints. “I try to discover what is new to me, what I learned from my experiences and the experiences of other people,” says Ventura.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Art N(e)w
1-15 December 2009
NCCA Gallery
Intramuros, Manila

Art: N(e)w, Art New, Art Now

What is art is a question oftentimes asked and to answer that question now is difficult, if not impossible.

Art in the 21st century is a loose canon.

In his essay “Artists: Modern and Postmodernism”, Prof. Christopher Witcombe describes the impossibility of a single definition: “Art in the latter half of the 20th century has deliberately placed itself beyond the limits of control. Today, art historians and critics – we might call them the art police – throw up their hands in dismay in the face of contemporary art.”

Almost anything could be considered art says Arthur Danto, professor of philosophy at the Columbia University and art critic of The Nation, in his book “Art After the End of Art.” He, nonetheless, provides a clue to what postmodern art is.

But first the distinction between the terms contemporary and postmodern: “Contemporary art would for a long time continue to be ‘modern art produced by our contemporaries.’ At some point this clearly stopped being a satisfactory way of thinking, as evidenced by the need to invent the term ‘postmodern.’ That term by itself showed the relative weakness of the term ‘contemporary’ as conveying a style. It seemed too much a mere temporal term. But perhaps ‘postmodern’ was too strong a term, too closely identified with a certain sector of contemporary art. In truth, the term ‘postmodern’ really does seem to me to designate a certain style we can learn to recognize, the way we learn to recognize instances of baroque or the rococo.”

Danto then proceeds to provide parameters in identifying postmodern art:

“There is a valuable formula in Robert Venturi’s 1966 book Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture: ‘elements which are hybrid rather than ‘pure’, compromising rather than ‘clean’, ‘ambiguous’ rather than ‘articulated,’ ‘perverse as well as interesting.”

Visual arts after modernism therefore, Danto writes, is “defined by the lack of stylistic unity, or at least the kind of stylistic unity, which can be elevated into a criterion and used as a basis for developing a recognitional capacity, and there is in consequence no possibility of a narrative direction.”

The ambiguity of postmodern art is the ambiguity that the exhibit entitled “Art:N(e)W, Art New, Now” finds itself in.

Taking a cue from Danto, this exhibition illustrates the definition of “postmodern” to denote a style, a rebellion against the tenets of modernism such as unity and grand narratives and ‘contemporary’ as merely being a function of time, as in any art made in the present times.

The exhibit finds itself, quite fittingly in the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Gallery for Contemporary Arts. A venue, that according to its own mission opens itself up to explorations of young artists with new tendencies “on the edge of current art making.”

This exhibition provides a survey, a cursory glance if you may, of postmodern art in a contemporary world.

The works appear almost dissonant even disconnected with varying styles from figurative to abstract paintings and in some a combination of both. But this incoherence is exactly is its coherence.

Young and emerging artists are participating in this exhibition. They pick up from various styles and modes of production of the past, as scavengers if you will, but equipped with an entirely different objective from their predecessors.

This dynamics was what Las Vegas Art Museum James Mann referred to in his essay “Art After Postmodernism”: “The fundamental premise of art after Post-Modernism is that since the various art forms of high culture have been analytically dismantled, fully picked apart and broken down – the important, unavoidable, inevitable work now confronting serious visual artists, writers, and composers, is to pick up the junked pieces and put that culture back together again in limitless new ways.”

The operative words in this description of the task of a contemporary artist are “limitless” and “new” because artists now must not merely repeat or rehash the past.

Mann further explains: “The logic of art after Post-Modernism is that if artist are to avoid merely perpetuating the late-dismantlement esthetic, which has now reductively dead-ended, then the only valid direction available to them is to reclaim innovatively the lost and abandoned resources of technique and content in their different artistic disciplines. Yet they must do this while further observing the lessons of the 20th century's analytic dismantlement, so as not to simply rehash or recycle the cultural and artistic past.”

He thus envisions an artist working in the 21st century as one having the tools that have roots in the past but with an entirely different perspective; the tools being used for an entirely different objective.

“…art after Post-Modernism includes some painting which looks fairly traditional in a representative sense, yet which grasps, assimilates, and employs more diverse cultural sources and resources than art has done heretofore, in previous ages. Only a shallow perception of this particular sort of painting would inspire the adjective "retrograde" in a critic's hasty judgment.”

We have touched on techniques but what of content?

Stephen Hicks in his essay “Why Art Became Ugly” offers these explanations. Postmodernism, he says, “reintroduced content – but only self-referential and ironic content.” Postmodernism also is about a more ruthless deconstruction of traditional categories and mixing styles is its strategy.

“It will be an internal commentary on the social history of art, but a subversive one. Postmodernism allows one to make content statements as long as they are about social reality and not about an alleged natural or objective reality and—here is the variation—as long as they are narrower race/class/sex statements rather than pretentious, universalist claims about something called The Human Condition. Postmodernism rejects a universal human nature and substitutes the claim that we are all constructed into competing groups by our racial, economic, ethnic, and sexual circumstances.” Mann writes.

“Art:N(e)W, Now” supposes a period of contemplation, a collective pause before a detour. Detour to what? No one knows, for sure, but the artist is a creature of his/her surroundings, a function of his/her (personal) history and the road is wide open for exploration.

Participating artists include: Camille Asuncion, Ralph Barrientos,Dodge Carpio, Fidel Castrence, Dianne Concepcion, Dawani Deleon, Kat Fallara, Jasmin Gabagat, Jazz Gabriel, Alee Garibay, Cara Gonzalez, Clara Herrera, Mylene Lising, Ana Mata, Joseph Morong, Maridann Pedro, Paulo Pascual, Isaac Sion, Isay Rodriguez, Jo Tanierla, Katrina Taule, Tanya Umali, and Jocel Yabes. The exhibition is curated by CCP 13 Artists Awardee and UP Professor Jonathan Olazo. Exhibition is on view from 1 – 15 December 2009 at the NCCA Gallery.

For enquiries please contact Ethel Buluran at (632) 527-2192 or email us at or visit our website at . The NCCA Gallery is open Tuesday to Friday at 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. (JT)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Notes by Dave Lock

The profundity of Jonathan Olazo’s investigations into the issues of art-making and its meaning advances one step forward in “Answers where poetry should not exist”. According to the artist, his recent anthology of works do not simply explore the concept of abstraction itself, but also the different varieties of textures that constantly permeate his new set of paintings. Olazo is regularly known for his bold, contemporary experimentations with non-representational art and its genre’s versatility with a diverse array of available existing elements. The artist believes that the detachment to worry from composition creates a certain faculty of enlightenment and crafts a feeling of rawness and naturality, in which art is exulted in its truest, most unadulterated form. And it’s through this reason that sometimes, composition acts as a constraining mathematical cage, putting the aesthetic value of one’s work above artistic concept and significance. This probably is also the main reason why abstract art has often been viewed as the end point of art, and sometimes a functional or decorative arrangement. It’s the primary reason why he keeps on pushing abstraction to its limitations, in both technicality and concept, in order to preserve its true essence, if not, just to keep it untainted from the raunchy commercialist exploitations of a visual world.

“These works provide an exploration into the different casts of personalities breathing inside me” the artist says. Perhaps, these painted images might evoke a specific sense of nostalgia, because some of the works here go way back into his older attempts in handling the genre. Basically, this set is a reinvention of his earlier works on a fresher perspective, offering his audience a wide range of surfaces at hand. “These are models for thinking, it doesn’t necessarily have to induce emotion” Olazo explains. Indeed, it is always up to the viewer because for a reason, abstract paintings are abstracts because they are open to an extensive range of interpretations and definitions. Sometimes, the presence of a figure creates a sturdier, contextual representation in concept, at a point that it further seals the investigation in searching for the painting’s meaning. The artist’s masterpieces, perhaps, creates an anti-thesis of this notion, because on the contrary, his works challenges the restrictions of form and content, positioning his audience into a deeper trance-like condition of cerebral activity and philosophical questioning.

“Abstract art can be something else than just a beautiful object on a living room wall. It can be symbolic hopes and dreams, and our anxieties.” Jonathan Olazo quotes to end the interview.

"Answers where poetry should not exist" opens at 6:30 p.m. on November 26, 2009 at Whitebox Studio, Stall 59, Cubao Expo, Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines. The show runs until December 9. For inquiries, please call 437 3839 or email

Monday, November 23, 2009



"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.

Monday, November 16, 2009


“HARAYA: An Exhibition of Contemporary Works
by Hong Kong-based Filipino Artists” at the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre

Opening Reception: 17 November 2009, 5:30 - 9pm

The 4th Philippine Arts Festival, organized by the Philippine Arts and Cultural Society and the Haraya Visual and Media Arts Society, with the sponsorship of the Hong Kong Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) and support of the Philippine Consulate General, continues with the forthcoming “Haraya: An Exhibition of Contemporary Works by Hong Kong-based Filipino Artists”.

Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre
7A Kennedy Road,
Central, Hong Kong

Aldrin Monsod (Overall Coordinator)
4th Philippine Arts Festival,
Philippine Arts and Cultural Society (Hong Kong),
Haraya Visual and Media Arts Society
Tel : (852 ) 3118 2902


Rachel Rillo
November 18, Wednesday
Rachel Rillo Breaks It Down With ‘GRAIN’

Rachel Rillo opens her latest photography exhibit, ‘GRAIN,’ on November 18, 6pm at Silverlens Gallery.

Her latest work is a meditation on paring things down to their material source: plaster, wood, plastic. Objects photographed are small figures that are visual representations of something real. With the use of light alone, Rillo intentionally alters and deletes backgrounds and other contextual hints. Size, the environment and any other relationship the object photographed could have outside of the material from which it is made and what it symbolizes has been negated.

“Photographically, this particular work was a challenge because I had to get rid of all clues surrounding the object. The task was to make the photographs as minimal as I could get them to be without touching them up or altering them with light,” says Rillo.

GRAIN is a glimpse into the quiet truths in the most basic of equations. A cube with a triangular top is instantly a symbol of a house. A rounded figure on a shaft is a bust symbolizing a human form.

There are installations of photographs of religious iconography paired with a small plastic bag of ground, melted, pulverized, and pulped material. Assuming that the bag holds part of the subject, the photographer posits the questions: Has the idol, icon, or symbol lost its meaning? Is it sacrilege? Is it a gram of dirt or a holy gram?

GRAIN is a meditation on the elusive gestures of form and material - the nuanced expression, the violent confrontation, the abandoned and scarred. It is a reflection of the disjunctive spaces between symbolism and spirituality, memory and possession.

About the Artist

RACHEL RILLO graduated from the Academy of Art College, San Francisco. In 2000 she moved to Los Angeles to work as a freelance photographer for the television industry. Her clients include FOX TV, UPN, CBS and NBC shooting publicity photographs for the news and shows. Her photography has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, La Opinion, and other major publications in the LA area. In the15 years of living in the US, Rachel Rillo has shown her fine art work in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston. Her work has also been shown at the Silverlens Gallery in Manila, UTS Gallery in Sydney, Australia, and will be shown in Pulse Miami this December.

Image: Rachel Rillo, House 1, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009


"Signal no. 2"
at Le Souffle Restaurant & Wine Bar

Tala Gallery invites you to One Man Exhibition of Howard Jao entitled "Signal no. 2"
Opening cocktails on Monday, November 16, 2009 5.00 - 7.00 pm
at Le Souffle Restaurant & Wine Bar
Top of the Citi Makati

100 Scout De Guia St. (nr. Tomas Morato), Kamuning Quezon City Philippines 1103
[02] 441 1267 +63917 606 3222


Isa Lorenzo
November 18, Wednesday
Isa Lorenzo, 004: RELEASE

Largely a meditative reaction to her time as a recipient of the Japan Foundation Jenesys Program Creator-in-Residence at Tokyo Wonder Site, Isa Lorenzo’s ‘RELEASE’ explores the underside of the Japanese cultural identity – one that prioritizes homogeneity and conformity - and probes human expressions for “letting one’s hair down,” and “blowing off steam.”

Using the Philippines as her reference point, the artist observed that the assimilated group identity in Japan supersedes the individual’s identity. They have a saying: the nail that sticks out is hammered hardest. As a reaction to societal homogeneity, their “expressions for releasing control are extreme in Japan through subcultures—fetish, cosplay, and wota. As the title suggests, my work for this show takes off from this premise of releasing control,” says Lorenzo.

The photograms in RELEASE are from printed material ubiquitous to public spaces: tear sheets, exhibition flyers, performance advertising. They are layered aesthetically and printed correctly with the corresponding tonalities. Half of the pieces in ‘RELEASE, she leaves unaltered. They remain controlled. The other half, she disrupts the perfect layering and printing by using micro explosives - a release control from the darkroom.

Followers of Lorenzo’s work will notice that each piece is titled with a word or two – a marked departure from her pattern of leaving works numbered or dated. Lorenzo says, “the series is a set of traditional and universal symbols but are also personal talismans to move ahead in life”. ‘RELEASE’ is a collective set of accidents and mistakes, of images disrupted, of spontaneous signifiers.

Isa Lorenzo’s RELEASE will run from November 18 to December 12 at Slab’s 20Square and will be shown alongside Rachel Rillo’s ‘GRAIN’ at the Silverlens Gallery across the bridge.

For inquiries and more information on RELEASE, please contact Cathy Paras-Lara at or 816-0044.

Image: Isa Lorenzo, Empress, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Talk on Creativity with Gilda Cordero-Fernando and other artists
November 14, Saturday
Bridging the Arts and the Sciences

Be here when the arts and sciences walk and talk a common path. In a rare conversation, a panel of artists and scientists will explore with the audience what it means to be creative in their respective fields.

Do they both experience eureka moments? If they do, do these moments come with a big bang or lightly on tiptoe? In what measure is creativity genetic or nurtured? Is it absolutely essential that society support the artist and scientist so they can excel at what they do?

Maria Isabel Garcia, curator of The Mind Museum at Taguig, will mediate this risky rendezvous between artists and scientists. Gilda Cordero-Fernando will conduct a creative exercise-join panel discussion. This activity caps the art exhibit Philippines, Oh My! Philippines of GCF.

The event is free of charge but reservations are required. Please contact Leonore Casuga at 8160044 or email us at

Image: Gilda Cordero-Fernando, Miss Philippines between Two Colonizers, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


The Philippine Embassy in Singapore would like to inform you that the annual Philippine Art Trek in Singapore will open in November with the anchor exhibit In the Eye of Modernity: Philippine Neo-Realist Masterworks from the Ateneo Art Gallery at the Singapore Art Museum, from 14 November 2009 to 14 March 2010. Co-organized by the Philippine Embassy in Singapore, Manila-based Ateneo Art Gallery, and the Singapore Art Museum, this major exhibit showcases the seminal paintings and sculptures from the 1950s to the ‘60s that helped revolutionize Philippine visual arts.

The month-long Art Trek will feature six exhibitions organized by six galleries in what has become the largest annual exhibitions on Philippine art overseas. Philippine art specialists Artesan+Studio, Galerie Joaquin Singapore, Sunjin, Utterly Art, Valentine Willie Fine Art galleries and the Ateneo Art Gallery will take visitors on a dazzling visual journey, as they unveil in six separate but related exhibits, new and iconic artworks by Filipino masters and emerging artists.

The Chinoy Connection, organized by Utterly Art, presents the works of young contemporary Filipino artists J. de Juras, J. Vicente. J. Mangobang Jr., M. Bonayog, R. Ambagan, R. Adeva Jr. 4-15 November 2009 at Utterly Art gallery.

Valentine Willie Fine Art showcases the new works of young artists Constantino Zicarelli, Dex Fernandez, Electrolychee, Ferdz Valencia, John Torres, Maria Jeona, Mark Salvatus, Martha Atienza, Mica Cabildo, MM Yu, and Tatong Recheta Torres in the exhibit Forever and Ever and Ever and Ever. 6-29 November 2009 at ARTSPACE@Helutrans.

Sunjin Galleries will feature the works of Clairelynn Uy in the exhibit System Revisited. 7-21 November 2009 at Sunjin Galleries.

Artesan Gallery + Studio features Nessun Dorma (None Shall Sleep), new paintings by Lyra Garcellano. 20 November - 2 December 2009 at Artesan.

Celebration is Galerie Joaquin Singapore’s salute to the Filipino Neo-Realist and contemporary masters. 25 November-9 December 2009 at the BMW Perfomance Motors Showroom Event Hall.

For more information about Art Trek and the exhibits, please do not hesitate to call Ms. Pearl Camento, Cultural Assistant of the Philippine Embassy, at 6737 –3977, local 101 or email to

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Art Flood
An Art Collectors' Sale for the Benifit of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC)
November 12-14
Silverlens Gallery

Acknowledging the profound impact of the recent typhoons, Silverlens/SLab would like to invite you to ART FLOOD, an art collectors’ sale of modern and contemporary pieces that will run from November 12-14, 1-8PM at Silverlens Gallery.

ART FLOOD seeks to display and sell modern and contemporary pieces at reasonable prices. Silverlens has chosen the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) as its beneficiary. In addition to helping rebuild the lives of displaced Metro Manila residents, ART FLOOD will also provide an opportunity to bring affordable art to new collectors.

Artwork by Gus Albor, John Bautista, BenCab, Benjie Cabangis, Ronald Caringal, Ernesto Carratala, Mariano Ching, Louie Cordero, Marina Cruz, Kiko Escora, Alfredo Esquillo, Dina Gadia, Marciano Galang, Joe Geraldo, Mia Herbosa, Riel Hilario, Geraldine Javier, Erwin Leaño, Gilberto Magpantay, Joven Mansit, Lito Mayo, Leeroy New, Justin Nuyda, Jayson Oliveria, Renato Ong, Jim Orencio, Mikel Parrial, Cid Reyes, Rene Robles, Reynaldo Rodriguez, Elmer Roslin, Susan Stair, Jose Tence Ruiz, Rodolfo Samonte, Jaypee Samson, Yasmin Sison, Wire Tuazon, Mark Valenzuela, Roy Veneracion, Chris Villanueva, Costantino Zicarelli and a growing roster of new and established artists' work will be available at ART FLOOD.

The highlight of the event will be a live auction at 6PM on Nov. 14, Saturday. A number of hand-picked pieces by collector partners and gallery partners will be auctioned at this time by auctioneer and performance artist, Carlos Celdran. The proceeds will maximize the impact of ART FLOOD on PNRC's efforts in disaster relief throughout the devastated areas in Marikina, Mandaluyong, San Juan, Pasig, Makati, Pateros, Las Pinas, and Muntinlupa.

In solidarity with Silverlens, Galleria Duemila, blanc, and Art Informal will also be selling pieces from their individual gallery collections.

For collectors and galleries who are interested in participating in ART FLOOD, or for more information on the event please contact Cathy Paras-Lara at or 816-0044.

Image: Alfredo Esquillo's Monsters in the Orchestra 2, detail

Saturday, November 7, 2009


By JCrisanto R. Martinez

Race. Moment. Milieu.

The contemporary conditions stirring every Filipino’s psyche and sensibilities vomit a variety of pictography of a crisis-ridden society. As issues are scrutinized so does the art and artform analyzed and are bundled in its socio-political contextualization where restrained sarcasm and paradoxes flourish. The imagery assembled is that of a society and people gasping for breath while attempting to free themselves from the savage web of appalling oppressing power and poverty.

Two Filipino visual artists Pol “Indigo” Narra and Vonn “Wayan” Narra, in their first two-person exhibit, collected these meanings and identities and created a visual reinterpretation of these realities on canvases, burlaps and acrylics. It is an exhibition of paintings showing their individual unique styles as they communicate in the present-day language that defines the sense of true identities and centers their perspective as Filipinos. Thus, “Esquinita” is born and continues to be reborn.

“Esquinita,” that cramped alleyway found in every nook and cranny of this archipelago, becomes the focused locale. Confined in nature and restrictive in essence, “Esquinita” presents its people, in its time and in its setting. The diverse characters of and in an “esquinita” distilled in the artists’ thoughts amalgamates into both the typical and the individual characteristics. (Pol Narra is a practicing architect and interior designer while Vonn Narra is a graduate of Optometry and is likewise a practicing interior designer.) In “Esquinita,” both artists infused a rich complexity in their paintings blending such components as physical appearance, expression of behavior, apparel, and surroundings. The nature and creation of their figures recount the plight of a people.

Expressing the human condition is at one end of this exhibit while on the other is the patronage for pictorial art. The attempt is to speak out consistently and eloquently in their powerful canvases from this alleyway mirroring its people’s daily grind. Such comes in placing premiere importance to portraiture. In executing this, each artist’s work reflects their professional background: the clear cut definition of perspectives of Pol Narra’s paintings almost like an architectural draft as opposed to the subdued hues and moods in the paintings of Vonn Narra who reflects much on character execution much like in interior design. However both artists’ works/portraiture rendering reject the self-conscious poses of the prettified and the beautified.

Potent emotions rendered into images and symbols invite a reflective moment to ponder. For as real as their circumstances so does the projection of real-life drama of the “esquinita” portrayed on canvases and burlaps mirror the undeniable – that anywhere in this place we call home, the archipelago we embrace as homeland lies these images of a people; that everywhere lies this typical alleyway.

So we encounter the characters: men lined up in various roles like those engaged in the typical drinking spree in Von Narra’s “Tagay” ironically ready to sacrifice his well-loved pet for “pulutan” in “Best Fried.” Pol Narra’s stark contrast between the dominant alpha male whose number of kids is inversely proportional to his daily income comes to life in “Tatay Sipag” as opposed to a dutiful father with no other means to earn a living cooks up some broth in “Gotohan.” The eyes of the hopeful glimmer in Pol Narra’s “Mang Tubig,” that street vendor peddling bottled water. Yet the same sparkle shine in the eyes of a “parlorista” in “Gusto Ko Sya.”

We stumble upon “Damaso,” a priest in a nearby chapel executed by Vonn Narra who vehemently preaches the choice for life yet for fear of procreation uses a prophylactic which is anti-life. This is opposed to “Yosi,” with the young boy’s striking glance as he continues to try to fight for life. Yet perhaps the starkest contrasting artworks by Vonn Narra would be his women: “Sarsa,” the unthinking lady willing to surrender her body and spread her legs to answer any call of lust suddenly impregnated by who-knows-who and the woman who contemplates first before surrendering her body in “Pain.”

Yet every Filipino is hopeful. “Balikbayan Box.” Pol Narra’s painting of a family whose kin painstakingly trying to earn a living by working on third-rate jobs overseas then sends a box of First World goodies so her family could get a taste of the “imported,” comes as a “split-second enjoyment of redemption.” And the hope of the future is likewise hopeful. “Bulaklak” and “Barong-barong” by Pol Narra and “Yosi” by Vonn Narra portrayed the youth all lustfully hopeful for a future to come perhaps much different from the alleyway they inhabit at the present.

“Esquinita” after all remains to be a hopeful locale. With its populace and circumstances the daily grind revolves and evolves. Despite hard-times those characters in an “esquinita” continue to embrace the karaoke and the videoke if only to shriek out their frustrations. Much like the Filipino visual artist: that despite the hard times, we continue to strive and make our art sing.

Friday, November 6, 2009


In Loving Memory:Bottled Memories of Our Beloved Dead
by Ioulene Grace Intano, Ignite, Sacred Heart Parish Newsletter Editor-in-Chief

How do we keep the memories of a departed loved one alive? I can think of different ways: to keep the things they treasured most when they were alive or to share anecdotes whether it be funny or sad. But most especially we keep them alive by how they touched our lives and by imparting the lessons learned to others.

But at Sacred Heart Parish, Fr. Jason K. Dy, SJ project coordinator of In Loving Memory thought of something much more artistic, lasting and personal. It begun with 300 empty recycled bottles which the parish was giving away for free. Each artist or non-artist parishioner got to decorate the bottle to his/her liking as a way to remember a loved one. Those bottles are now on display at the parish’s parking space turned exhibit hall. Those who were not able to get hold of a bottle, may write the names of their departed on a piece of cloth mounted at the entrance. Each wall and corner of the exhibit hall is filled with uniquely decorated bottles. Each bottle has its own story.

I was lucky enough to hear first hand testimonials from the persons who personalized the bottles. One parishioner shared that the empty bottle of perfume and other small items were things that her deceased relative gave to her. Another parishioner shared that the picture of a woman and small figurines of angels inside the bottle, represent her sister and her twins who died of complications during childbirth.

Several adorned bottles caught my attention. One bottle has no decorations at all, just a simple yellow pad paper with writings on them. Upon closer inspection, one can conclude that it’s a letter addressed to a deceased loved one. A few words gave me pause, sige lang ug hilak walay hunong ug hilak gibasul nako ang Ginoo, (always crying, I blamed God) such remorse, such reproach and such courage to conquer one’s doubt and to continue to believe in the Soul of the World.

A bottle wrapped in a cradle, a baby mitten inside in memory of a few days old infant. Another, a mother wrapped her bottle with colored papers to remember a two month old fetus she carried in her womb. I can only imagine the joy of the expectant parents and the grief they went through. To overcome that grief and move on reflects a triumphant journey of life.

A water-filled bottle with several colored wires and two different sizes of stones at the bottom to remember the happy memories of a father who jumped in a well with his child. Remorse filled my heart upon hearing the story.

An elaborately wrapped bottle same as gifts one gives signifying the person’s memories as beautiful and special.

A dressmaker added a lovely dress on her grandmother’s picture. A show of talent and gratitude to a person she loves.
An angel figurine attached on top of the cork symbolizes that the angel would bring the souls to heaven.

A bottle tightly wrapped with ropes that in my humble opinion reflects the kind of close relationship that the departed had with this particular individual. The artist somehow subconsciously imparted to me that the memories that she holds are too precious to let go, that she will be keeping them with her, no matter what.

Several small mementos that the departed were fond of or were part of them like buttons, a cigarette, dried flowers, broken glass, beach sand, pebbles, precious stones, pictures, rosaries, novena booklets, wedding ring, etc. can be found in these bottles. Each bottle holds a piece of the person who adorned it and of the person to whom it is dedicated to. And through this exhibit, these integral parts of these individuals are shared to friends and strangers alike.

In another section of the exhibit hall, more bottles are on display. One wall occupies photos of Jesuit priests who are now deceased but are continuously in every parishioner’s prayers.

On an elevated portion of the floor, a lone bottle is singled out with one end of a black wire connecting from a water pipe that’s sticking out of the wall and the other end connecting to a bottle filled with flood water and mud from Marikina, in memory of the victims of Ondoy.

For forgotten souls, a wall chest full of ordinary belongings: pair of reading glasses, a piece of tooth, a broken piece of wood, among others is attributed for them. Signifying that the living has not completely forgotten any of them.

The most striking bottle for me would be the one located in the corner most, placed above eye-level with a bloodied cloth inside a broken bottle, taped together with band-aids in a form of a cross and below it a single white flower. This broken bottle is offered to all victims of judicial killings. Adjacent to this bottle a broken image of a crucified Christ somehow silently saying, You are not alone in your suffering, Come and I’ll give you rest.

Through this exhibit memories of the departed will always be remembered and cherished. And by sharing, the living are somehow strengthen by the knowledge that every visitor will offer a prayer for the ones who are left behind and for those who have left them behind.

Before I left the exhibit, I overheard a young man said jokingly to his friend, “Can I place my picture there, too?” In deeper reflection, I thought, after I die, I too would like someone to decorate and dedicate a bottle – in loving memory of me.


Artepinas, Inc. presents its first sponsored event as a corporation by bringing to the public “Esquinita.” This is the first two-person exhibit of two Filipino visual artists Pol “Indigo” Narra and Vonn “Wayan” Narra, who created a visual reinterpretation of contemporary realities on canvases, burlaps and acrylics. It is an exhibition of paintings showing their individual unique styles as they communicate in the present-day language that defines the sense of true identities and centers their perspective as Filipinos.

“Esquinita,” that cramped alleyway found in every nook and cranny of this archipelago, becomes the focused locale. Confined in nature and restrictive in essence, “Esquinita” presents its people, in its time and in its setting. The diverse characters of and in an “esquinita” distilled in the artists’ thoughts amalgamates into both the typical and the individual characteristics. (Pol Narra is a practicing architect and interior designer while Vonn Narra is a graduate of Optometry and is likewise a practicing interior designer.) In “Esquinita,” both artists infused a rich complexity in their paintings blending such components as physical appearance, expression of behavior, apparel, and surroundings. The nature and creation of their figures recount the plight of a people.

Leopoldo O. Narra, Jr. (Pol “Indigo” Narra ) was born in Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte. His father is a journalist and his mother is a school teacher. The elder of the Narra brothers, Pol graduated in Architecture and continued to study Basic Interior Design at the Philippine School of Interior Design. He was a former member of the Sundang Art Group base in Sta. Mesa Manila. He is currently an interior designer at Oxcart E-8 Design and Planners Co. and a member of Artepinas, Inc.

Ricardo O. Narra (Vonn “Wayan” Narra) graduated at the De Ocampo Memorial College with a Degree in Optometry. He likewise pursued a real estate career as Property Consultant in several real estate corporations. Currently involved with Oxcart E-8 Design and Planners Co. which he put up with elder brother Pol, he is active in brokerage resell transactions, leasing and project marketing. He was a former member of the Sundang Art Group base in Sta. Mesa Manila. Vonn Narra is a member of the Board of Trustees of Artepinas, Inc.

Esquinita opens Aide’s Chickenhaus located at the Lower Groundfloor of the Makati Cinema Square, Pasong Tamo, Makaty City on November 8, 2009 at 6:00 p.m. and will run until November 30, 2009. for inquiries please contact landline number (632) 6644700, mobile number (+63) 9223314108, email,, or log on and

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Norman Dreo: Game Na!
Artis Corpus Gallery, 7 November till 30 November 2009

I had the rare chance of meeting Norman Dreo in the early 1990s when he was still student at the College of Fine Arts of the University of the Philippines. I marveled at his craftsmanship in bringing to life two dimensional photographs which I took in my studio. We planned for an exhibition called Hidden Faces and I ended up keeping some four works out of the nine that he produced then. As he graduated and as he pursued his career, I was totally unaware of how he progressed from that time till late last year when I asked him to do an exhibition for my newly established gallery Artis Corpus. He obliged yet told me that I had to wait a year before he can finally set up his show in my gallery. I waited patiently as I mounted twelve shows in the house gallery and in Ayala Museum ArtistSpace and in two fairs, ManilArt09 and ArtManila, from November 2008 till October 2009. The year passed and now it is October 2009.

This sort of artistic history happening in my absence is enough for me to get stunned by the amount of creativity and talent that is found in a Norman Dreo. Initially, he topped the talent test upon entering the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts. Since then he has been represented in several group shows including those mounted in Botong’s Up in Makati, Pinto Gallery in Antipolo, Kaida, Liongoren, and Boston Galleries in Quezon City, 1/of in Taguig City, and other Philippine venues. He has also participated in several group exhibitions in Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and other Asian countries, as well as in Germany, Austria, Netherlands, France, and the USA, among others. Norman is well awarded by the Art Association of the Philippines, Metrobank, Shell, Philip Morris, and the Ateneo Art Awards. He has to this date mounted several solo exhibitions, at Liongoren Gallery (1999-2000), Red Mill Gallery in Vermont USA (2002), Red Dot Gallery (2002), Utterly Art Gallery in Singapore (2008), and 1/of Gallery (2009).

Game Na! is Norman Dreo’s sixth solo exhibition, as he claims, though I count seventh. Who would argue? He had been doing absolutely detailed pieces such as his electronic circuit boards which, upon close examination, reveal a mass of humanity doing its regular business, whether at work or at leisure. Then came his series of workers, with their backs facing the audience, aptly called Lakbay (Travel), which Dreo mounted in Singapore’s Utterly art Gallery. Then came his multitude series, with canvasses overcrowding with people’s heads.

In this exhibition, Norman Dreo comes home to his real home, the home of children at play. Internet gaming has been the passion of every child, the addiction of every student, the challenge of every youth. If you are not into internet gaming, then you must be a perennial nobody. Dota and Ion are absolutely bywords of children and psychologically retarded adults. If you do not play these, then you are out! Books turn into gray matter inside their petrified bags as the children eagerly peek into the other world residing behind the screen of the computer monitor. Life begins once the flashy heroes and heroines appear at the gamer’s disposal.

Game Na!


Grandier: Points of Contention
Artis Corpus Gallery, 7 November till 30 November 2009


Being born a Piscean, I didn’t believe in the horoscope. I was just aware that my zodiac shows two fishes swimming in opposite directions, going around in a circle. It looks similar to the yin yang symbol. I didn’t have any inkling that it will have anything to do with my art, but gradually… this notion of duality in my works crept in.

My thesis in college, grounded in the traditional manner of painting, was very technical, “ordinary”, but made me stay awake for hours at night. It dealt with my interest with warm and cold light and how it affects the subject matter, or at the very least, how the subject is depicted in a work. It was chiaroscuro with two opposing light sources. I guess I was impressed with the dramatic lighting we see in Hollywood movies, and how an actor/actress looks better with warm and cold light.

When I do an artwork, whether it’s in pastel, acrylic or oil, I prefer a dark ground -- a mid-gray or sienna shade. I start off with getting the big, basic forms right, and gradually work from dark to light. I work from the general to the specific, all at once, from front to back. I don’t just work on a particular area and finish it, then move to the next. But I work out the whole space, building from the base, all the way up to the finishing touches. I cannot work on single spots, without reference to the whole. All areas must be done gradually, layer by layer until all bases are covered.

In order to do realistic works that “look” like a photograph, I had to study the layering techniques of Da Vinci, Caravaggio and Rembrandt. The method of Impressionists such as Amorsolo was too rough for my taste. I unconsciously preferred a painting with the least amount of brushworks visible. It also perhaps jived in with my pacing, since I didn’t produce works “on-the-fly”. Upon learning the process, I now work from massing out the whole picture plane with paint all at once. I start with a monochrome underpainting, and when this layer is dry, I build up the next layer with the basic colors, and so on. I eventually adapted this process even with my pastel works.

Recently, my still life works reflected my interest with two-source lighting. It was a “retreat” on my part to get back to where I started, and getting things done correctly. It was a real challenge to consider both warm and cold light in a painting, as the opposite complementary color clashes at the edges of the subject. It took a great deal of patience and courage on my part to really get the shades right.

After having done traditional subjects like landscapes, still lifes, portraits and nudes, I thought that I had to go beyond the obvious, beyond the technical. I believed there was more to this than just merely producing “pretty” pictures. Something lacked. I have developed the skills to produce highly-realistic works, but something else was amiss. I eventually got disillusioned with painting and had to take a self-imposed break.

In relation to my art, I realized that I was afraid before to express what I felt or thought because I disliked criticism. I was more diplomatic and was getting along with the flow. My art, as a result, became “safe”. I regarded art as something unattached to what was going on within and without me. I “idealized” art by detaching it from me, and thereby showing something else that wasn’t me. What I therefore lacked was conviction, my identity, my mark as an artist. I wasn’t my work because it was an image that has nothing to do with me. This doesn’t mean that I’m not proud of my works. I am. I consider all my works before this solo exhibit as foundation to something more in tune with what I have to “say” or contribute as a painter. I wish not to over-analyze the whole process of art-making, but I simply cannot just paint “pretty” pictures because it was the easiest path to follow.

About the Paintings

First of all, this solo exhibit, my fourth if I’m counting the two solos I did abroad, is about my symbolic gesture of breaking from my past subjects, and at the same time is a means to also pose a question about what it is to be human. The realities of and realization in life just comes to us… it only takes a matter of time. Conditions one was accustomed to, change. Relationships become more complicated. Matters seem to be in a continuous state of restlessness. There is a point in one’s life when questions are thrown at you, at significant junctures in your life, and you still don’t have the “right” answer. Unresolved issues in the past still disturb us in the present, which eventually affects our future. We all, in the long run, reach a fork in the road, and must choose a path.

My works explore these states of reflection or points of contention where one is confronted with significant matters in one’s life. The works show or express the state when one stops and reflects prior to arriving at a conclusion. It therefore attempts to convey the feeling of being “lost” or “burdened” with thought. Human duality kicks in when faced with this situation, and we have to continuously deal with our inner nature, and weigh our decisions carefully.

The series of paintings starts off with “The Blank Slate”. This work shows pieces of torn, creased paper that is scattered about on a clear white background. The crumpled paper, which appears in all the works, is symbolic of the experiences one encounters in life, whether they are good or bad. I chose this title for this piece to point out the fact that the notion of a “blank” slate is not necessarily true. The slate, our consciousness, is a product of the past, and it develops from there, with all of its imperfections and baggage. We, as humans, therefore are inherently possessing positive as well as negative traits that interact in various ways in our lives. “Inadvertent Prologue” refers to one’s realization that life experiences have to be sorted out to derive meaning from them. Random things happen, and it is necessary to reflect on these things even if they are not good experiences. The globe the figure is on refers to one’s vulnerable condition. The globe is unsteady and shaky and one has to balance his thoughts and actions in order to remain on top.

Also of significance to the works is the use of warm and cold light to support the notion of human duality. It suggests that one is confronted by good and bad thoughts, by strength and weakness, simultaneously day by day. No one is exempted from this, and degrees of noble and immoral behavior emanate from us, consciously or unconsciously.

The works also show a contrast between an organic human with flawless attributes, swamped with imperfect, degradable man-made paper. It means that we’re always bombarded with external noise that continuously tests our resolve. That we always encounter a lot of “trash”, and it’s up to us how we filter them out.

My works serve as a testament to human struggle and inner conflict. It recognizes the presence of our flaws and more importantly our strengths as well. It is a statement that after all the gray and cloudy events in our lives, remaining steadfast in one’s principles and convictions will enable one to surpass all these challenges.

Note: I guess even if I speak in the third person, the works in some way also reflect my inner personal conflict. I can relate to my works heavily, as if they are anecdotes to my present situation.

Grandier Bella

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Pinto Art Gallery
The Silangan Foundation for the Arts, Culture and Ecology

A simultaneous art exhibitions to be unveiled at the Pinto Art Gallery

Pinto’s Main Gallery and The Silangan Studio Gallery features new artworks by the Neo-Angono Artists Collective entitled

This group show exhibits recent works by Aga Francisco, Chitoy Zapata, Ian Lomongo, Frances Eugenio, Noel Solis, Garyloid Pomoy, Kim Mark Oliveros, Sarah Geneblazo, Herbert Pinpiño, Cherryl Villaflores, Dino Villaflores, Michael De Guzman, Art Sanchez, Meilin Ricohermoso, Angelica Marie Adamat, Maria Victorialyn Camateo, Ronald Mabanta, Jerome Landerito, Allen Enero, Jerome Choco, Elison Tentado, Jesusito Borja, Jerwin Villanueva, Ahl John Dalida, Cesar Orido Jr., Bryan Mangcupang, Rodel Monderin, Pabsie Martus, Apolinario Lacanaria Jr., Jovert Aguilar, Riovoc Acallar, Paula Regine Tanchoco, Irish Pearl Flores, Franz Java, Roderick Macutay, Marte Miranda, Peter Soliven, Aaron Bautista, Carlos “Totong” Francisco II, Raul Funilas, Errol Balcos, Nick Aca, Abraham Gonzales, Iggy Rodriguez, Boyet De Mesa, Racquel De Loyola, Mideo M. Cruz, Wire Tuazon, Keiye Miranda

Pinto’s Upper Gallery unveils Allan Alcantara’s first one-man show entitled

All shows opens November 8, 2009 Sunday at 3pm. All exhibits will be on view until November 30, 2009

Pinto Art Gallery is located at #1 Sierra Madre St., Grandheights Subdivision, Antipolo City, Rizal, Philippines
For inquiries, you may email us at or call us at (632)6971015

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


You are cordially invited to the opening of


Manila Preview

Friday, November 6, 2009, 7:00 P. M.
#12 Tesoro corner Complex New York St.
corner Sgt. Catolos, Cubao, Quezon City

The show lauds the nameless and anonymous designers of cheaply made textiles in the market and knock-offs of quality fabrics. As the invented title suggests, the concern of the works springs from the notion of manufacture, of things being made, as it relates to the artist’s personal reflections on the current swell of artistic production in the local context.

In painting formats that allude to altarpieces, the artist as parodist, mixes fabrics with traditional media, and uses printing side by side with painting, sourcing ready-made design to connect disparate images of the past.

The artist earned his MA in Fine Art degree from the Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton in the UK. He divides his time teaching as assistant professor at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts, Diliman, where he obtained his BFA with magna cum laude honors in 1995. As undergraduate in 1993, he won the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP) Jurors Prize for Painting. He has also exhibited in New York, Paris and the United Kingdom, and has works in institutional collections such as the Singapore Art Museum and the UP Art Collection.

When time permits, to support further his practice, he designs, selectively for film—a previous background that earned him numerous awards, and also for theatre and the printed media. He also selectively curates exhibitions especially for young artists.

FABRICANA will be exhibited in Singapore at the Utterly Art Gallery from November 19 to 29, 2009.

For inquiries please call 0917-595-27-76, 0917-571-04-68, 502-34-59, 502-08-68, 502-12-54
or Email

Monday, November 2, 2009


“Juana Change” exposed at the Vargas Museum

Mae Paner, the performer and social critic behind the outrageous character “Juana Change” is the subject of a major exhibition at the Vargas Museum, University of the Philippines, Diliman. Thirty-six artists are presenting paintings, drawings, photographs, prints, and sculptures of Paner in the nude in PANGATAWANAN MO NAH!, an exhibition that magnifies her up-front, stun tactics.

The obese Paner personalizes the political in the resolve to get thin: she says that if she is to continue criticizing greed and excess in the national life — particularly among Filipino leaders— she should start with herself. She says, she should not spare herself her own critical eye. PANGATAWANAN MO NAH! is the first of 2 exhibitions. The forthcoming opening on November 5, 2009, at 5 p.m., marks the beginning of her journey towards better health, reasonable consumption, and tempered appetites. Posing in the nude provides the absolute measure of honest self-appraisal. Paner literally reveals the problem. The exhibition’s second edition, to be scheduled before the coming elections in 2010, is intended to be a bare-faced display of whatever success she achieves or failure she suffers.

The multi-generational gathering of artists in this exhibition, is also an unusual assembly of incompatibly-minded individuals. They are — Leo Abaya, Alfredo Juan Aquilizan, Ernesto Aquino, Jr., Carlo Aranton, Elmer Borlongan, Charlie Co, Reynold de la Cruz, Kiri Dalena, Thomas Daquioag, Gilbert Daroy, Roger Dio, Cecilia, Brenda Fajardo, Egai Talusan-Fernandez, Karen Flores, Dennis Gonzales, Kawayan de Guia, Ings Isungga, Nap Jamir II, Winner Jumalon, Mark Justiniani, Irma Lacorte, Nina Libatique, Julie Lluch, At Maculangan, Joy Mallari, Norlie Meimban, Lee Paje, Jim Paredes, Benjie Reyes, Don Salubayba, Ioannis Sicuya, Christine Sioco, Boldy Tapales, Wig Tysmans and Boy Yñiguez —persuaded by divergent intellectual passions and positions towards art and politics. Their participation in PANGATAWANAN MO NAH! rests on a shared faith in Paner’s brand of social criticism, her over-the-top humor, and the project’s bare-all motivations.

PANGATAWANAN MO NAH! is a fund-raising event to enable Paner to produce more of the “Juana Change” videos that have rocked YouTube and through it, the political landscape. “Juana” has lampooned Cha-Cha, spoofed presidentiables, and satirized gross displays of power — but also gave Paner to self-mockery. In each video, Paner presents a turned-up version of a hideous persona, who has a goody-goo, morally assaulted double. The impact of “Juana Change” on Philippine politics continues the long historical lineage of political satire in print and broadcast media in this country. But the persona is also an unprecedented invention: “Juana” is coarse, vulgar, politically astute, quite unpleasant and love-able at the same time, and exquisitely intelligent.

“Juana” is a complex character possessed of dozens of personalities. The woman behind “Juana,” Mae Paner, is even more rivetting, as this forthcoming exhibition will reveal.

PANGATAWANAN MO NAH! is curated by Marian Pastor Roces, Paner’s principal collaborator in this project; and presented by the museum development corporation she heads, TAO INC. For more information on this event, contact Glenda Puyat at 0917350 1720 or Monchito Nocon at 0920 283 4393. For available works, please contact Tin-aw Art Gallery at 8927522 or contact Marya: 09165636687 or Dawn: 09175341378.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Austria Explores New Ground in Latest Exhibit

Julio Jose Austria dips into a personal discovery of new landscapes in his tenth one-man show titled “New Frontiers.”

The exhibit showcases 10 paintings, products of Austria’s residency at the Vermont Studio Center (VSC), after receiving a full grant for the 2008/2009 Asian Artist Fellowship, U.S.A.

In his new line of work, Austria explores the idea of isolation without exulting in its political, geographical and psychological nuances and solipsism. According to him, he sees his stay as a retreat: “While at VSC, I had thoughts of staying away from the reality — politics, Philippine art scene, culture, family, friends, relatives, everyday life— my reality, which I had been used to.” The current paintings focus more of Vermont’s mise en scene rather than Austria’s soliloquies as seen in his previous exhibitions.

Chronicling his stay in Vermont in snapshots of the local landmarks and places he frequented there, Austria waltzes from his affinity with cityscapes and the strident metropolis (as embodied by his previous works) to the docile arms of the countryside— drawing inspiration from images of inconspicuous street signs and bridges to towering russet trees and moss-tainted brooks in the springtime.

One could sense the solitary ways of understanding a new ground in his paintings, dealing with the metonymic absence and presence of tangible things, as well as recollections. This is prevalent in the aptly titled “Far Away from Home.” “There’s nobody I could depend on but myself,” he comments.

In one of the paintings called “Cold Silence,” Austria waxes poetic on how a late night walk brings him closer to nature and the stillness of things: “I remember feeling the cold weather from the tail of winter to the birth of spring, looking up to the stars, listening to the flow of the river and the silence of the night.”

Austria lets us look through this experience without feeling like a voyeur, revealing his new-found relationship with the place in such a way it doesn’t lose its novelty. He does so without the pretensions of being an artist sleeping in a foreign land.

Style wise, some of the paintings indulge in vast spaces and block objects like in “Ice Breaker” depicting a fire hydrant ducked in a mantle of thick snow. This visual style fluctuates to bold, esoteric lines meandering across the canvas and layered strokes alluding to his recent exhibition (This Way Out). The palette remains subdued, being dominated by beiges, roses, mints and grays.

Austria majored in Painting at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila and is affiliated with the Anting-Anting Art group of Cavite, his hometown. Just last year, he was a finalist in the Annual Art Competition hosted by the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP). He recently held a solo exhibit titled “Colored Identity” at the Museum of Young Art in Vienna, Austria and did a group show in England and Germany as part of the Young Art Philippines Exhibit Tour 2009.

“New Frontiers” runs from October 22 to November 13, 2009. Hiraya Gallery is located at 530 United Nations Avenue, Ermita, Manila. For more information, you can call 523-3331 or email or visit the website








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