In 1893, when Paul Delaroche first encountered the then new-fangled art of photography, he famously declared painting’s demise. The death of painting has since triggered numerous debates in the annals of art history. While developments in contemporary art have made this a non-issue, viewers of Strip 2011 Painters As Photographers may find themselves in agreement with M. Delaroche. For this exhibit, Patricia Eustaquio, Nona Garcia, Geraldine Javier, and Yasmin Sison, four artists known primarily for their paintings, essay into photography. Their works
prove that, should they choose to, they can very well leave painting behind.
Photographer Rachel Rillo of Silverlens curated the exhibit. Her brief to the ladies consisted of advise to take a break from their norm. Their bodies of work demonstrate the range of their talents, and Rachel could confidently assume they would not disappoint.
Among the four, Nona’s practice hews closest to photography. In her exhibit Fractures at West Gallery in August 2010, she introduced her photo assemblages: three dimensional images created by stacking identical photographs atop each other and skillfully cutting out certain portions of each of the images. In that show, she gave us interior scenes damaged by flood. Here, she brings out a series she calls Whiteout, suburban landscapes blanketed by snow. Predominantly white scenes have been elaborately framed in carved white wood, individually lit by white lamps attached to each frame.
Patty, Geraldine, and Yasmin’s photographs bear so much of their hallmarks that those familiar with their work need not check the labels to figure out who did which work. Their choices of images identify them. Blossoms figure frequently in Patty’s repertoire. She uses details of them in her paintings, and more recently, in her ceramic sculptures. In Flame Tree Chicken, which she printed on canvas, fiery red orange flowers stand out against a muted leafy background. The blossoms, though no longer in full bloom, are still vibrant enough to keep their hues, even as they lie almost crumpled and deflated. Do they also resemble a rooster in flight? Or maybe that’s me reading too much into the piece.
Yasmin’s series, Little Liars, expands on a piece she first did for a group show last year. She used toy miniatures as props, creating chaotic indoor scenes. The use of toys tempers the destruction she depicts, pretty much how child’s play masks the violence of children’s imaginations. She paints children the same way, with an underlying sense of the sinister.
Geraldine delivered images as only she can. I thought them vintage Geraldine, and hark back to her paintings of earlier in the decade, particularly to an exhibit at West Gallery’s space in Megamall that she called Hahahuhu. Alice And Lucinda, with its Victorian Gothic overtones, remind me of one of her paintings in that show. It had three long-haired ladies in flowing gowns eerily looking back at their viewers. “Geraldine told me”, shares Rachel, “that she wanted to photograph what she could not paint.” Indeed, when you scrutinize her choices—especially the slaughtered chicken paired with a photo of clumps of its blood soiling a tiled background— you agree that they would have fallen flat if painted on canvas. In keeping with her current series of paintings, she incorporated strips of tatted lace in each of her photographs.
The exhibit allowed us to witness another dimension to our favorite ladies. And this I thoroughly enjoyed. But more than that, Strip 2011 Painters As Photographers succeeds because it delivers truly wonderful work.
Strip 2011 Painters As Photographers runs from 27 April to 28 May 2011 at Silverlens Gallery, 2F Yupangco Bldg., 2320 Pasong Tamo Extension (Chino Roces Ave. Extension), Makati City. Phone (632) 816-0044 or visit http://www.silverlensphoto.com