As Israel pounds the Gaza strip, Barack Obama prepares to take his oath for the presidency, and the Alabang Boys reveal family secrets, the art scene in Manila forges ahead. Try and catch these three shows before Jan turns into Feb, and we find ourselves with one -twelfth of 09 already gone.
JUAN ALCAZAREN/ BERNARD PACQUING AT FINALE
Younger artists look to Johnny Alcazaren as a beacon, a former professor who until today inspires them to continue experimenting with their craft. When you come and view his two-man show with Bernie Pacquing, you understand why. The two artists worked closely with curator Nilo Ilarde to come up with site-specific, monumental pieces that take full advantage of Finale gallery’s cavernous space, putting together a fantastic, breathtaking display of paintings, hanging scuplture, floor installations. You imagine yourself transported to a show in Chelsea in New York, or one of the warehouses in the 798 District in Beijing.
In my favorite piece, Casting Aspirations, Johnny reworks his pieces from his December show at Mo Art Space. Drawing inspiration from a Louis Vuitton window in Kuala Lumpur, his own fixation with mirrors, and Alice in Wonderland, he arranges plaster pieces cast from household objects atop square mirrors in a checkerboard pattern at a corner beside the gallery’s entrance. Once hit by light positioned at an angle
from above, the whole piece comes together like a prism, entrancing diamond patterns reflecting on the wall. In another beguiling piece, True Inspirations, he lights used plastic chopping boards from behind, installing them randomly on the gallery’s far wall.
Johnny’s large-scale paintings transfix with seemingly-repeated diagrams that mimic a television screen’s test pattern. Come closer and words come together: Nervous Painting enumerates parts of our nervous system, Muscular Painting lists down our muscles, and Bloody Painting details the different arteries. All three inspired by his father’s medical books.
Bernie’s Perfect Storm dominates the gallery’s central portion. About 480 bamboo reeds hang from seven-foot nylon strings attached to a painting mounted on the ceiling. Bernie painstakingly coated each one white before gluing feathers at gradated distances throughout the pole. The result? A piece at once majestic and light, appearing to float quietly, hovering between ceiling and floor.
He also has two paintings, done in his signature Abstract Expressionist style: Ucello’s Chalice in a Firestorm, a diptych done in vivid orange to dark red, and Ochre Surrounded by Gray Matter, his more subdued triptych.
One MUST try and catch this show. Go in the late afternoon when the shadows lengthen, and the lights from Johnny’s and Bernie’s pieces come out brighter. Once you do, you’ll want to come back. I know I do.
Juan Alcazaren Bernard Pacquing is at Finale Art File from 13 January to 7 Febuary 2009. Finale is at Warehouse 17, La Fuerza Compound, Pasong Tamo, Makati City. Tel (632)813-2310 or www.finaleartfile.com
At the opposite end of EDSA from Finale, inside a small gallery quietly making a name for itself in busy and bustling Kamuning, Andoi Solon marks his first solo show by celebrating a series of firsts. Curated by artist Ruel Caasi, Andoi’s pieces pay homage to Adam, the first man in the story of creation. Andoi mimics the Mannerist figures of El Greco and Cesar Legaspi, painting in grisaille, traditionally used as a foundation for painted images.
Andoi shifted careers, leaving behind a marketing job with a telecom supplies company. He went back to school, graduating from the UP College of Fine Arts in 2008. He has been generating a bit of a buzz among local art collectors. Next up for him is another solo show, this time at Utterly Art in Singapore, scheduled for March. Definitely one artist that bears watching!
FUNNY CRY HAPPY, CLAIRELYNN UY AT BLUELINE GALLER
You find art in the most unexpected places. Stroll around the 4th floor in Rustan’s Makati, and squeezed in between suitcases in the luggage section and the towels and linen in the home section you stumble onto an exhibit by Clairelynn Uy. In this solo show of five
paintings, she moves on from her usual photorealistic images of children’s toys and takes us to a carnival, bringing to life the carousel and bump cars that we so love to ride. Once on, we are transported out of our realities to a world of magic. Just as Clairelynn’s pieces do.
Funny Cry Happy is at Blueline Gallery from 29 December 2008 to 29 January 2009, 4F Rustan’s Department Store, Makati www.bluelinegallery.multiply.com