The year starts off with great news for us art lovers—- our favorite Filipino artists have been invited to a show that travels to Milan and Beijing. Southeast is B(l)ooming opens on Febuary 11, with a special client preview sometime January, at the Marella Gallery in Milan. The show brings together the current crop of contemporary art darlings that dominate both the auction and gallery circuits of Southeast Asia.
In Odd Sights, Strange Sounds, Geraldine Javier’s fascination with taxidermy and relics comes to the fore with this piece that brings us into the ultimate, and most morbid, of all curio cabinets: a hunter’s trophy room of conquered animals. A typical sight in hunting lodges and homes of afficionados of the sport, perfectly preserved animal heads look on blankly, vanquished mementos that see nothing with their glass eyes. Within the confines of the room, not the Aubusson or Persian rugs that we would expect, but a carpet of grass with more of their animal brethren. Are these merely asleep or already annihilated?
Yasmin Sison-Ching’s three pieces, Flow, Flow 2, and Flow 3, continue her Turning Tide series of kids frolicking in the beach. This time we find them floating in the water, skimming the surface of the sea, buoyant and light. The sea itself, with its endless ebb and tide, speak to us of memory and mutability. In Yasmin’s own words, “ flow is about the time and magical spaces we make in remembering, … vivid but not substantial”. A feeling we all get, but can’t quite put a finger on.
Nona Garcia once again makes us see the exquisiteness of desolated spaces in Skeleton at the Feast, a piece culled from her trove of photographs that document abandoned rooms. In her hands, there is softness and beauty in the grime and the muck of broken tiles, in the rust of an incongruously-located wrought iron garden chair. The fruitlessness of getting anywhere with the Blind Leading the Blind hits us as we view Alfredo Esquillo Jr’s take on an image from the archives of Civil War documentarian (and father of Photojournalism) Matthew Brady. How the hell do we know where we’re going?
In Alfred’s second piece, Balasa (Reinas de Suwerte) or The Queens of Chance, he manipulates another Mathew Brady image to make a commentary on this big gamble called life. The paper plane represents fate that lands where it may, uncertainties and all part of the game of living.
Invictus 1 and Invictus 2 pay tribute to Weboy, Lyra Garcellano’s much-loved toy. Her companion from infancy, she imbues him with dignity and honor that belies his tattered, frayed, and faded appearance. In him, the adoration belongs, for his ”unconquerable soul“ that remains “bloody but unbowed“, to allow him to stay ”the master of my fate” and the “captain of my soul“. William Earnest Henley’s famous words, but are they for Weboy or for Lyra herself?
Annie Cabigting brings back a piece first exhibited in 2005 at the Finale Art File, and which also won for her that year’s Ateneo Art Awards. Tearing Into Pieces, part of an installation called 100 pieces, recreates a photo of an incident that has become myth in the annals of Philippine art history: Roberto Chabet’s ripping of a book on Philippine art and dumping this in a trash can outside the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 1977. Just as Chabet slashed up the book, so does Annie render work akin to a puzzle that can only be viewed completely by putting the pieces together.
The other artists from the Philippines are Wire Tuazon, Emmanuel Santos, and Ronald Ventura.
For more details on the exhibit visit www.marellagallery.com