Sometime in late March, I made my way to UP Diliman to try and catch the thesis exhibit of this year’s batch of Studio Arts graduates. Unfortunately, I got there the day before graduation ceremonies, the day maintenance men moved in to take down what had not been taken home. So when I received Dawn Atienza’s invitation to view this show, a reprise by ten selected artists of their thesis exhibit pieces, I told myself that I had better not miss it this time.
Those who bemoan the dearth of conceptual art shown in Manila’s commercial galleries will certainly have no cause to complain here. Goldie Poblador’s interactive installation of
bottled scents of the city blew me away! In Collected Memories and Ephemeral Representations, she captures the aroma of life, from pleasant bouquets of Baguio summers, to the odors of gas fumes of an EDSA weekday, to the stench of sweat and decay of a hand-to-mouth slum existence. She undertook a course in perfume making and bottled her liquid essences in elaborate glass vials she designed herself. She houses each vessel in a vitrine, similar to how they would be displayed in a cosmetics counter at, say, a store like Bergdorf Goodman or Saks Fifth Avenue.
I so enjoyed Lee Paje’s video installation Sit In My Retina that I had to take home a DVD to watch it again. Lee takes us with her on a typical day, and from the moment she awakes until the time she sleeps, we literally see things from her point of view. She manipulates her images to simulate how her eyes blink and we feel that more than just voyeurs, we actually experience what she does, including some bodily functions we’d rather not be privy
to! Perhaps this concept has been done before, but that does not detract from appreciating Lee’s efforts.
Another interactive piece that I would rank high up there on the aliw factor is Kathleen Beredo’s Color Rain. How fun to walk through a corridor of brightly-hued glow sticks strung from the ceiling! It reminded me of a special I saw on CNN once about a German girl with such a highly developed sense of hearing that she can picture sounds in color. She described walking during a Spring shower as similar to walking through a rainbow. The same feeling you get as you go through Kathleen’s installation.
I thought that Adeo Sta. Juana constructed his freestanding colored sculpture, I’mpossible, by cutting and shaping paper as they look so light. He actually worked with rubber, demonstrating the flexibility of this medium. Carlo Aranton installed his wire sculpture Ens at the gallery’s ceiling, so simple yet so interesting.
Liv Romualdez Vinluan has already made waves because of the demand for her paintings even before she obtained her fine arts degree. In fact, the piece shown
here is not the same as her actual thesis piece, that one already finding its way into a collector’s trove of treasures. Somehow, I still believe that artists should go through some period of starvation to serve as impetus for their art. Or maybe that is such a romantic, old fashioned adage in these days of a (still!) booming art market. Who am I to question the law of supply and demand? Or the appetites of insatiable art buffs?
All in all, the show delivers a delightful, refreshing experience. What will these young artists make of this promising beginning? Only time will tell.
Atat featuring Carlo Aranton, Kathleen Beredo, Aristotle Padua, Ings Isungga, Goldie Poblador, Lee Paje, Adeo Sta. Juana, Ioannis Sicuya, Ryan Villamael, Liv Romualdez Vinluan is on view from 5 to 19 June 2009 at Tin-Aw Art Gallery, Upper GF, Somerset Olympia, Makati Ave, Makati City. Ph(632)892-7522 or visit www.tin-aw.com