I arrived from an almost month-long furlough with my husband and kids in busy, bustling, frenetic, and always exciting New York City. I loved rediscovering favorite masterpieces in the great museums and stumbling onto new ones at the contemporary art spaces that dot the city’s art haunts: Chelsea’s Gallery District, the New Museum at Nolita, Soho. But nothing beats plunging headlong into the art scene that never sleeps—that of our very own!
With Melbourne-based curator, Jeff Khan, here for a residency grant with Art Cabinet Philippines, I took advantage of the long May day weekend, and caught up with shows running on their last few days. Aaah— it’s good to be home! Welcome back to me!
DIORAMA BY RODEL TAPAYA
I have always been an unabashed Rodel Tapaya Garcia fan. I discovered his art the first time we organized Art In The Park for the Museum Foundation of the Philippines. Since that sunny June day in 2006, both that annual art event and that small painted face on burlap that I brought home have become very dear to me.
In this show, Rodel continues with his exploration of art beyond paintings. He revisits the diorama, a device that has fascinated him since he started working as a full-time artist. Here, he uses it as a means to narrate the long-forgotten Philippine folk tales that provide substance to his work.
In the tradition of an altarpiece, he houses each diorama in tin sheets hammered and decorated like the urnas we find in old Filipino homes. Inside, found objects and sculpted wooden figures depict scenes from the old stories. The beauty of the pieces, though, lie in his artisanship, his embellishment of each casing, painting them with figures and forms that continue the myths told within.
Rumor has it that the Singapore Art Museum appropriated four of the pieces for their collection. True or not, that only proves what I’ve always loved about Rodel: he grounds his work on very Pinoy facets, yet they do not feel at all parochial, appealing to both his loyal, local fans and to art collectors beyond our shores.
Diorama Rodel Tapaya is on view from 25 April to 16 May 2009 at The Drawing Room, Metrostar Bldg., 1007 Metropolitan Ave, Makati. Ph(632)897-7877 or visit www.drawingroomgallery.com
PENCIL WORKS BY CHRISTINA QUISUMBING
Ling Quisumbing has resettled in Manila after almost a decade working in art-related projects in New York. In September last year, she exhibited an assemblage of found objects, Madre, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, which took inspiration from the process of renovating her grandmother’s old house into a home for herself. Even then I thought that piece fantastic, and, intrigued, wanted to know more about the artist who put it together. What a wonderful surprise to stumble into her current show at the second floor gallery of Manila Contemporary!
The concept of using various pencils as her medium began, like Madre, with the construction of her home. Piqued by the forms and textures of used pencils discarded by the carpenters who labored at the site, she played around with the idea of using these pencils to create art. Accumulating enough pencils proved to be a story in itslelf. To put together Roll Call, for instance, Ling struck a bargain with the principal of Tomas Morato Elementary School: she would replace a new pencil for every used pencil given to her.
Hence, the thin tower of used pencils, many of them labelled with the names of the students who they belonged to.
One year and 40,000 pencils later, she brings us interesting sculptural pieces, testaments to her skill and imagination.
Ling is off soon for a two-month residency at Tembi Contemporary in Yogyakarta.
Pencil Works by Christina Quisumbing is part of the group show Parameters+Play+Repetition=Patterns until 10 May 2009 at Manila Contemporary inside Whitespace, 2314 Chino Roces Ave, Makati City. Ph (632) 844-7328 or visit www.manilacontemporary.com
GIRL BY LEA LIM
When you speak to Lea Lim, you realize how much of herself she puts into her work. All her seven pieces speak to us of her dreams and longings, her aspirations and reminiscences of things past, her aspirations for the future.
In the exhibit’s title piece, the quadriptych Girl, she sees herself as holding her life options in hand. The contents of the jar may vary, but all represent different facets of her
person. In Pinning Purpose, she sees herself as a little girl lost in the woods, so many pathways to take, so many choices out there. She continues to ponder these questions in Little Red Riding and Hold.
Girl by Lea Lim is on view until 16 May at Alliance Total Gallery, Alliance Francaise de Manille, 209 Nicanor Garcia St., Bel Air 2, Makati City. Ph (632)895-7441 or visit www.alliance.ph and www.artcabinetphilippines.com
IN THE OCEAN WITHOUT A BOAT OR A PADDLE, SURROUNDED BY WATER
I must be the only one in Manila who hasn’t seen this exhibit, and I’m glad I caught it. The story of this group of artists parallels the vicissitudes of recent Philippine contemporary art history . How difficult to believe that less than a decade ago, they struggled for opportunities to show in commercial galleries who scoffed at their art. Today, the exhibit list reads like a who’s who in every collector’s wish list. How inspiring is that?
I thought that the Ching brothers have come to their own with their works for this show. I loved Mariano Ching’s wall bound sculpture from GI sheets and Jonathan Ching’s origami blackbirds backlit by neon lights.
What next for the SBW guys? How exciting to see!
The show features works by artists Argie Bandoy, Jonathan Ching, Mariano Ching, Yasmin Sison Ching, Louie Cordero, Christina Dy, Geraldine Javier, Lyra Garcellano, Eduardo Enriquez, Mike Munoz,Frederick Sausa, Keiye Miranda Tuazon, Wire Tuazon, Alvin Villaruel, Ferdz Valencia. Show runs until 14 May 2009 at Blanc Compound, 359 Shaw Blvd. interior, Mandaluyong City. Ph (632)752-0032 or visit www.blanc.ph
ELMER BORLONGAN AT SITIO REMEDIOS
A few, a lucky few, received the privilege of a weekend by the beach at Dr. Joven Cuanang’s Ilocos Norte paradise, Sitio Remedios. For this weekend only, reservations came with more than the promise of bagnet and longganisa by the shores of the South China Sea. Elmer Borlongan’s one man show opened, and fifteen of the chosen had their pick of his pieces on exhibit.
Isn’t it about time that Emong, one of the nicest, nicest artists around, allows us mere mortals the chance to see more of his work, before they get snapped up by the hundreds in his waiting list? A curated exhibition at a beautiful space (SM Art Center? Blanc Compound?) in the near future would be great! Hear hear!
For more information on Elmer Borlongan’s show, visit www.sitioremedios.com or contact Boston Gallery at (632)722-9205