Many of her colleagues teasingly refer to Mac Valdezco’s February show, In Focus, as a mini-retrospective (See this blog’s
February 2010 Archives). That exhibit inaugurated the art program of the Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences, and curator Albert Avellana did bring out choice pieces from Mac’s body of work. For the artist, seeing all the pieces she had put together posed a challenge. How would she achieve the same effect for her next solo outing? Mac decided that she needed to push herself, pit her pieces against each other, set new ones up against the old, spur herself to outdo previous work in the same media.
In I Versus I, Mac shows us her undiminished ability to come up with extraordinary work from her favorite cache of ordinary materials. At the ground floor space of Avellana Art Gallery, a series of five, bond paper-sized collages greets us. She created patterns for Moth Bombs 1 -5 by printing thread between folded paper (like wings of a moth), cutting these out, pasting them onto another sheet of paper, then superimposing more patterns on each piece, this time by running them through a sewing machine. This series takes off from her previous set of prints, Buhol, where she used colored photocopies of pressed
The more exciting piece in this floor, however, is installed in the red room located to one side of the gallery. Plastic Ghost is a polymorphic sculpture from saran wrap, the material she played around with for her Invisible Pilot pieces. This is the best piece I’ve seen her produce with this
medium. She used wire—alambre— that she coated white, to provide the piece’s basic shape. Then, as she had done before, she repeatedly sheathed this wire skeleton, shrouding it with rolls and rolls of the clingy plastic, letting it find its form. The finished piece measures about five feet long. Its bulbous, translucent core and wispy, tailing tendrils seem more like an oversized jellyfish to me, albeit one that floats gracefully in that sea of red.
Incubation Period Phase 1 makes us pause halfway to the second floor, on the stairway landing. For two years now, Mac has been making assorted shapes from colored cotton tape. Relatively small in size, probably not longer than five inches per, she has now amassed a substantial number of these pieces. She has not figured out what to do with them yet. Meanwhile, she has sprinkled them on the wall and inside the landing’s alcove, spreading them up towards the ceiling. With their primary
shades, they remind me of Murakami’s iconic work for Louis Vuitton bags, the ones with scattered logos that every fashionista coveted a few seasons back.
Upstairs, Mac surprises yet again. Throughout the spaces in this floor, she presents works on earth-toned canvases. They contain patterns that echo her collages downstairs, two of them in acrylic. But the more impressive ones are her drawings, large-scale renditions of her doodles in pencil, which she magnified to suit her 4’x3′ canvases.
In one of the rooms, by a trio of these drawings, lies Propeller. I find this the best piece in this exhibit, the one where we can really appreciate Mac’s genius.
She was transfixed by gamo-gamo, the nocturnal moths that come out in vast numbers at dusk, believed to be harbingers of rain. These do not survive the night, and by morning, lie in heaps on the ground.
Mac took inspiration from the sight of these insects amassed around her home. She used paper baking cups to simulate the texture and shape of moth wings, leaving them folded, arranging them to slightly overlap. Propeller is made to resemble a rug thrown casually on the floor. Yet, because of the piece’s craftsmanship, the paper cups take on the qualities of sheer and delicate
doilies. I thought it deserved the comparison to something more romantic, perhaps to an angel’s wing fallen from the heavens.
Mac let loose on some old books for her last suite of works. She cut them up and bundled their pages together. She told me she wanted the paper to look like fur. Mac gathered various bundles, creating an assorted number of clusters. Each cluster, all different sizes, with a few of her cotton tape shapes slipped here and there, completes
one piece. Mac then “framed” each piece inside clear ziplock bags. She bestowed one-word titles on these works, naming them as she would pets: Home, Roots, Spikes, Mais. Again, Mac has made whimsical pieces that truly delight.
I’ve said it before and will again. When Mac Valdezco puts on a show, I know I’m always in for some really good art. She does it so quietly, sans fanfare, yet always so consistently. Who wins this bout of Mac versus Mac? The art lover, of course!
I Versus I runs from 7 August to 11 September 2010 at Avellana Art Gallery, 2680 FB Harrison St, Pasay City. Phone (632) 833-8357 .