In this show, Elmer Borlongan and Plet Bolipata bring out selected pieces of their own paintings from their personal collection. As the exhibit notes explain, the title of the show comes from a musical movement where two distinct melodies play simultaneously. As we art
buffs know, both approach art differently. The social realism of Emong’s early work dwell on the underbelly of Manila city life, of the toils and challenges of the marginalized urbanite. Plet, educated in New York, comes from Western orientation and influences. She adores Manet. Her pieces express a carefree and
colorful joie de vivre. How interesting to see the effect of each on the other’s art as you move from their earlier to their most recent work. Anecdotes in the first person posted alongside the paintings situate the pieces for us. We get a glimpse into the stages of their lives,
both as individuals and as a couple, that gave impetus to particular works.
The exhibit includes Pamilyang Menthol, Emong’s dark and powerful piece made for 1994’s Thirteen Artists Awards exhibit. Against a black background, he portrays a family of drifters, their features elongated and indistinct, bound together only by the puffs of smoke emanating from their cigarettes. What a thrill to see this painting as I had only
enjoyed it before from photographs. Another legendary piece, one that guys seem to all covet, Mobile Record Shop, with the distinct red Beetle and the Jimi Hendrix cassette, hangs above Emong’s notes on the discipline with which he undertakes each working day.
I like Plet’s collages. I find The Absence of Green Makes The Heart Grow Fonder the most striking. She worked on this in Vermont during a residency grant in 2006. As she narrates, she imagined Manet jumping out of a Balikbayan Box to guide her as she stood lost and alone in the
cold, unable to find the house she was to live in.
From this personal collection of two artists, we also get an intimate peek into a marriage. You imagine that just like any other, this one marks milestones and brooks compromises. What is certain, though, is that Emong and Plet together produce beautiful art just as Bach’s two-part invention made for beautiful music.
Bolipata and Borlongan: A Two-Part Invention runs from 14 to 26 August 2009 at the Artispace, 2F Glass Wing, Ayala Museum. The exhibit is presented by CANVAS. For more information, visit http://www.canvas.ph