Hearing that Geraldine Javier opens a show in KL this week and Leslie de Chavez exhibits in Switzerland as we speak may not be as groundbreaking as electing the first African-American President of the United States. But surely, we Pinoy art lovers can also walk a little taller. After all, those who follow their careers know that when these two perfectionists strut their stuff, we all have something to crow home about.
GERALDINE JAVIER AND AT MACULANGAN: GREEN COMES OUT OF BLUE BUT IS RICHER THAN BLUE
Anticipating a Geraldine show is analogous to reading Patricia Highsmith. One knows to expect something a little off-kilter and slightly loopy, sinister even, underneath that veneer of perfect placement. But always, always something different from what she has done before. This time she teams up with photographer At Maculangan and explores the interaction between photos and paintings, paying tribute to those who have photographed, been photographed, chosen photographs.
My favorite piece of the show has to be Arrangement in Gray and Black, a memento mori to Vogue icon Diana Vreeland. Here one sees Vreeland’s striped pyjamas posed on her striped sofa, against her striped wall, an empty shell of herself lounging as she has so often been portrayed. It echoes the empty shells framed, embroidered, and waxed at the rear. Other images embroidered and framed: one flower arrangement done in the style of the Baroque Dutch painters of the 17th century, and a blackbird, i.e. a crow, the bird of death, so lyrically wrought.
Moonlight memorializes photographer Susan Mann, controversial for naked images of her children. The wall of photos beside her has been stripped of her work, only imprints remain as proof of their former presence. In Birdwatch we see the king of twisted tales, Alfred Hitchcock, brandishing a plucked goose, shown on a screen at a theater in Cubao X where one watches on beanbags ominously shaped like fallen birds.
The Wallflower , already exhibited at Finale’s warehouse inauguration, shows artist Georgia O’Keefe later in her life, the black and white flowers both an homage to her work and a reminiscence of one of Geraldine’s early signature pieces.
LESLIE DE CHAVEZ: BANANA REPUBLIC
Artist Leslie de Chavez may not exhibit in Manila, but his work confirms that the state of our nation does not stray very far from his thoughts. Always so powerfully expressed, this time by the banana as the harbinger of a corrupt society, his visual exposes, painted layer upon careful layer, strip all but the truth in their black-tinged images. Are we then reduced to monkeys?
For those of us immersed in the local art scene, Leslie will always be the artist that got away, whisked off to be the toast of Seoul, Beijing, New York, and now Zurich.
Banana Republic shows at Avanthay Contemporary from 9 October to 25 November 2008. www.avanthaycontemporary.com