Lui Medina’s Raptus, currently on view at Manila Contemporary, stands out for its marked contrast to anything else on exhibit in
Manila today. She has brought us wall- bound works notable for their minimalism and restraint, a break from the exuberant bursts of color and riot of figures that fill the walls of other galleries this month. I thought it a welcome change, equally as enjoyable, even if diametrically opposed, to the street art at West Gallery or the Mariano Ching and Dex Fernandez exhibits at SLab.
When you look at Lui’s work, you wonder at what is not there. Has something been peeled off? Or is there an element yet to come? This state of suspense, of incompletion, adds to the allure of her red and gold pieces. Like a movie that ends abruptly, you feel satisfied but wanting more, bitin in a good way.
Lui’s process makes for fascinating conversation. She revels in the ritual of preparing her materials and grinding the paint she uses. Her deep red circular panels (After Raptura and Involving Mysterium) consist of layers of gesso concocted the old fashioned way: repeated applications of a mixture of rabbit skin glue and chalk. Lui then uses oil paint and beeswax, giving them texture and substance, transforming them from paintings into objects.
Her works on paper incorporate circles and ovals, some quite blatantly so, others merely hint at these forms. Lui admits to an obsession with the round and ovoid, one acquired through repeated visits to London’s National Gallery while attending graduate classes at the Slade School of Art. “ I would look at the Renaissance paintings not for their subjects, but for their shapes! The circle speaks to me of continuity, it has less finality.”
Untitled (After Raptus), is the only piece in the show that does not integrate a circle. Lui displays this panel like a tile, or a serving of marzipan, topped with smears of red paint and accented with imitation gold leaf that she has used repeatedly throughout the show.
Lui has only recently moved back to Manila. It would be interesting to see how Manila’s art lovers react to her understated, highly intellectual approach to art.
RAPTUS, New Works by Lui Medina runs from 12 February to 27 March 2011 at Manila Contemporary, Whitespace, 2314 Chino Roces Extension, Makati City. Phone (632) 844-7328 or visit http://www.manilacontemporary.com