Nona Garcia Works With Synonyms While MM Yu Gets Wasted

Nona Garcia, "Fall Leaves After Leaves Fall"


Welcome back Nona Garcia!  After a spell of being scarce, it seems Nona will make her presence felt this year.  Last month, she surprised us at SLab. With Synonyms, her current solo show at Finale Art File, we see her revisiting familiar themes, reworking Nona trademarks into both supersized and mini me versions.

Nona Garcia, detail

A monolithic piece of 9ft x 18 ft dominates Finale’s Tall Gallery. In Fall Leaves After Leaves Fall,  two sedans seem to have hit each other head on, causing catastrophic damage to both.  Yet, once you notice that the left side of the painting mirrors the right, you actually wonder whether Nona presents doppelgangers, and that you are looking at the same event from two angles.  Nona uses an elaborate carved wooden frame from Pampanga, and aside from adding twelve more inches to the painting’s already gigantic proportions, this makes the piece even more compelling.  The contrast of the decidedly masculine bent of the black and white painting, the florid patterns on the frame, and Nona’s fine, delicate strokes, delivers quite an impact; just as big a jolt as the collision on canvas.

Nona Garcia, "A Series of Dialogues"

She uses these beautiful, custom-made frames, varnished in a dark brown matte finish,  for all her works in this show. The ornate embellishments that traditionally encase stately portraits or old master landscapes complete her paintings, acting as foils to her black and white, photographic renditions.

Guess who? Detail from "A Series of Dialogues"

In A Series of Dialogues, we see what has become a Nona signature done in eight-inch-high multiples.  When she portrays her subjects from behind, you can’t help but feel like an intruder waiting to get noticed.  For this work, she does individual portraits of a dozen friends who joined in on her birthday celebration.

From "A Series of Aftermaths"

The last work of the show is another series.   Again, she mines a theme and comes out with various depictions.  A Series of Aftermaths shows the detritus of disaster, both natural and man-made.  Four canvases depict the havoc left over from perhaps, a hurricane, sweeping flood waters, or could it be a simple burglary?

Also from "A Series of Aftermaths"

By MM Yu


The more I see the work of MM Yu, the more I appreciate her wit.  To make a commentary on how wanton consumerism leads to huge amounts of waste, she uses photographs of wares sold in baskets and bins by vendors that dot the streets of Manila.  She assembles her photos to cover one long wall of Finale’s Video Room.  You get MM’s sense of the ridiculous through her choice of


images:  the pile of Chinese combs used to rake out lice, glass marbles, ladies canvas sneakers on detached mannequin feet, brightly-colored plastic bugs, cigarette boxes atop an image of the Sacred Heart, a pile of bronze amulets. You can’t help but share in her amusement that yes, people do actually buy these things.

Another detail

MM installs several lightboxes around the space, the most striking of which she calls My Favorite Things. This diptych shows a sea of garbage, gross but fascinating to look at.  It serves as an effective way to visualize her take on all those knick knacks we think we can’t live without.  They eventually end up here,  part of an unidentifiable mass of the dregs of life.

MM Yu, "My Favorite Things"

I also could not stop looking at rgb, one of the lightboxes.  I thought it a lovely piece from which patterns came off like a prism, but wondered how it related to the rest of the exhibit.  I later discovered she photographed a drop of oil spilled on the road by a randomly passing vehicle.  What we see are the patterns of light reflected on it. What a beautiful way for MM to capture waste!

MM Yu, "rgb"

Synonyms by Nona Garcia and Waste Not Want Not by MM Yu run from 7 to 30 May 2010 at the Tall Gallery and the Video Room of Finale Art File, Warehouse 17, La Fuerza Compound, 2241 Chino Roces Ave. (Pasong Tamo), Makati City.  Phone (632) 813-2310 or visit


4 Responses to Nona Garcia Works With Synonyms While MM Yu Gets Wasted

  1. annie cabigting says:

    Beautiful work from both ladies!!!

  2. […] Nona Garcia Works With Synonyms While MM Yu Gets Wasted « Snippets from the Manila Art Scene […]

  3. lukdit says:

    The premise of the exhibit I question. These are wanted items of the masses which are considered waste and you are amused that these are bought. What about wasteful SUVs, wasteful trips abroad, plundered mansions. What about profligate bags, extravagant shoes, etc. This art exhibit is misleading, demeaning the masses effectively telling them they’re wasteful.

  4. This is a really great blog! Keep the posts coming! Thanks.
    Al Riyadh

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