Being with family means having the freedom to relax, get goofy, be yourself. It implies the comfort to do as one pleases. Where else would Kiri Dalena, artist and activist who takes us to the scenes of massacre and murder, show her irreverent side other than with her family? Or will her sister Sari share a self-portrait that unabashedly glories in her protruding pregnant belly? Home Works, at the AFM Total Gallery, captures the
casual, humorous, and playful atmosphere of a family get together. The group exhibit presents works by the celebrated sculptor, Julie Lluch, and her three equally-talented daughters.
Julie brings out intimate pieces, clay and marble renditions of domestic animals and decorative objects that one encounters within the sphere of one’s home. As we enter the main exhibit area, her sculpture of a startled cat greets us. Produced in what has now been recognized as a Julie Lluch trademark, she depicts the animal with its hackles raised, its teeth bared, half snarling, half surprised. The cat’s comical expression in the many versions of this piece never fails to get a laugh out of me.
Nearby, as a counterpoint to Cat, we see the first of Aba Lluch Dalena’s works: two dogs joined together, caught in flagrante, seemingly oblivious to the humans in their vicinity—just as they would be in real life. Three versions of a crucifix adorn one of the gallery’s walls. Aba’s Yellow Christ is the only one of the three where Julie completes the details of Christ’s head and face. While I have seen several of Julie’s crucifixes, I have not seen any of these particular ones before.
Aba’s sculpture has been set amongst her mother’s work.
Along with Askal, another stray pup, and Palaka, a giant green toad, she created four miniature tableaux full of wonderful detail.
Home Works 2 (Daddy in Pakil, Laguna) shows their father at work, the great Danny Dalena seated before a canvas. It includes a small facade of Pakil’s famous cathedral, echoing
the actual view from the Dalena ancestral home. Home Works 1(Mommy and Her Cacti Heart Sculptures) is my favorite. It depicts Julie amidst many of her most recognizable work: the busts of Van Gogh and Gauguin, spiky cacti, her clay hearts. Both pieces include playful dogs wiggling on the floor.
I thought Kiri’s work the most surprising of all. Her pieces in this show depart completely from the socio-political commentaries we have come to associate with her. She cast three larger than life blown up condoms in resin, painted in baby pink, black, and white. The three have been placed before a neon sign with the
words teeth, thing, mall, lamb, bought. If we do as the title suggests, Five Words To Be Read Aloud (After Daddy), we realize why her condoms have such odd shapes!
Beside the condoms, Kiri’s Penis Line (After Mommy) forms a single procession along the entire length of the wall. Dozens of thumb-sized terracotta penises appear to wiggle, bow, or stand in attention. One can choose to acquire them singly or in groups. Take your pick!
Two self-portraits complete the show. One of them is of Julie, an acrylic painting from 1972. In contrast, Sari represents herself in video, a piece for the 21st century.
Home Works runs from 5 to 28 October 2010 at the AFM Total Gallery, Alliance Francaise de Manille, 209 Nicanor Garcia St., (Formerly Reposo St.), Bel Air 2, Makati. Phone (632) 897-7757 or visit http://www.alliance.ph