I get wary when an exhibit’s list of artists reads like your Friends on Facebook (well, not mine). All too often, these mega-group shows have walls merely carpeted with paintings.
Galleries end up like your third grade art classroom, everybody’s works just hang there with no rhyme or reason.
So to be honest, I hesitated to see this. But I suppose when you have Ronald Achacoso and Nilo Ilarde working to put together an exhibit, they manage to steer it from the usual mishmash. The show’s title, Here Be Dragons, comes from the tradition of medieval map makers to mark the unexplored and the unknown with serpents and other such creatures. Frankly, I had to ask about the
concept that tied things together. As the way of group shows of this size, works came out uneven. And maybe, it isn’t such a good thing when pieces we’ve seen before get rehashed to fit into another
idea. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t find gems. This show has its share. Nilo’s installation makes it easy to appreciate each of the artists’ pieces. It must have been difficult figuring out which works to group together. That you do not feel stifled and overwhelmed must be credited to his use of the gallery’s wonderful space. And the natural light streaming in from the floor to ceiling windows helps make for very agreeable viewing.
I loved Mariano Ching’s Stigmatas, wooden hands embellished with pyrographs and acrylic images of serpents, lions, crusading ships, and Catholic missionaries. Felix Bacolor’s installation has a great story behind it. He
trekked to the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority to seek discards. Instead they gave him the run of closets full of pre-war Philippine maps.
He shows just a fraction here, the others to be used for future projects.
Funny that I mentioned a grade school classroom project earlier. Yasmin Sison actually brought one with her in After Chabet’s Boat where she uses paintings of Philippine maps by students of the Cavite Institute.
Whether or not they fit into the show’s concept, Johnny Alcazaren, Bernie Pacquing, Gerardo Tan, and Trek Valdizno always deliver quality. Nilo and Chabet as usual, make us think.
Next to Nano Ching’s piece, I would love to take home Alwin Reamillo and Juliet Lea’s Kakainin Ba Nila Ang Mga Saging. Unfortunately, unlike the President, I can’t afford the cost of a dinner at Le Cirque. Come to think of it, that money would have been better spent on this.
Here Be Dragons with Ronald Achacoso, Alex Aguilar, Johnny Alcazaren, Poklong Anading, Felix Bacolor, Ringo Bunoan, Bea
Camacho, Roberto Chabet, Mariano Ching, Lena Cobanbang, Louie Cordero, Bembol dela Cruz, Dodo Dayao, Nilo Ilarde, Manuel Ocampo, Jonathan Olazo, Jayson Oliveria, Bernardo Pacquing, Gary Ross Pastrana, Alwin Reamillo, Raul Rodriguez, Juni Salvador, Gerardo Tan, Jay Ticar, Trek Valdizno, Cris Villanueva, Reg Yuson runs from 15 August to 6 September 2009 at the Manila Contemporary Gallery, Whitespace, 2314 Chino Roces Ave, Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati. Phone (632) 844-7228 or visit http://www.manilacontemporary.com