I first encountered these Jesus Christ superstars of Dex Fernandez about a year ago at MO Space, at the group show Siren’s Hall. If I
remember correctly, he had three of these tattooed resin Christ figures making their debut in a show about rock and roll. He brings out more of them for his second solo exhibit, this time to present us with a premise on idol worship.
It has been said that the average Filipino gets drawn to personalities more than to issues. Take for instance the annual procession of the Black Nazarene. Tens of thousands flock the streets of Quiapo to seek the intercession of this cult figure. The Nazareno has developed a distinct personality. Those who revere it do not just view it as another incarnation of Jesus, but recognize an individual identity that Catholic ritual and folk belief have bestowed on it through time. It isn’t hard to see why Dex should compare this religious adulation to that accorded to rock stars.
Dex calls this show \m/, the emoticon for “rock on!” He exhibits only seven pieces, six more versions of the embellished Jesus Christ figure, and a large-scale manipulated photograph. Dex has produced a fantastic mural on the walls of 20Square that I feel gives the show its edge and elevates it from the merely interesting. It has provided the perfect backdrop for the non-ephemeral pieces on exhibit.
It took Dex three days to completely cover the gallery walls. Painted in tones of gray, the figures he projected only become apparent in photographs. A viewer standing in the space simply gets the impression of being surrounded by a swirl of abstract patterns.
Through the Jesus rockstar figures, a series of works dubbed Hey Idol, how you doin?, Dex poses a challenge to his viewers. Does his ornamentation change the way we now see the figures? Can we still regard them as deities?
God Bless The Rockstars, a mixed media piece on archival paper, stands at 7.5ft x 4 ft. Dex has reworked a photograph through painting, embroidery, and collage, techniques that he has become known for, and that characterize most of his wall-bound work. I felt he went over the top, piling on image after image, to transform the original. However, rock stars do tend toward exaggeration and horror vacui. Furthermore, the piece feels so typically Pinoy, very reminiscent of jeepney art, that I thought it worked nevertheless.
The Jesus Christ rockstar figures deserve a rest from Dex after this show, before their novelty wears thin. He must not forget that Jesus Christ is a superstar because he is unique.
\m/ runs from 16 February to 19 March 2011 at 20Square (inside Slab), 2F YMC Bldg., 2320 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City. Phone (632)816-0040 or visit http://www.slab.silverlensphoto.com