You can’t beat the energy that emanates from new graduates champing at the bit, itching to show what they’ve got. Tin-aw harnessed the excitement and the eagerness of eleven new graduates from the UP College of Fine Arts for Xing E. Jacinto, an exhibit that brings together their thesis projects. One’s thesis marks the culmination of college life, a final hurdle before graduation, a pause before the real world awaits.
The show picks up this vigor; the feeling of raw talent just unleashed gives the show its edge. Admittedly, some pieces come off as more interesting than others. But one expects unevenness at exhibits of this nature. Perhaps, this even gives the show its balance: the more powerful pieces don’t cancel each other out in the gallery’s smallish space.
Undeniably, Lou Lim delivered the strongest work with Skin Deep. Its installation took up an entire wall. She worked with multiple layers of industrial paint to create true-to-life casts, half body suits with the texture of latex that capture folds, creases, and details of private parts. She sought to attain facsimiles of different skin tones through paint. The individual elements achieve the effect of skin that had been flayed or shed in its entirety. Hanging on the wall and arranged in various poses, they look as if they had just been slipped off, abandoned in mid motion. Skin Deep comments on the superficiality of judging persons based on looks alone. While the process and the premise may not be all that original (body casts have obviously been done before, and so have observations on the preoccupation with the physical), I think that these do not take away from the work’s visual impact.
While Lou stripped off our outsides, Paola Germar focused on dressing our insides. In Innerwear, she has clothed stuffed versions of internal organs in frills and flounces. They hang inside glass vitrines, quite attractive but perhaps, need to be
more solidly constructed. Another eye-catching piece, Bea Alcala’s Here Be Demons, is a swarm of small sculptures in resin. Each lumpy mound looks like a cross between brightly painted coral and a porcupine. They actually depict large lips pricked by hypodermic needles. Each one represents a portal of consumption marked (and hurt) by the never-ending parade of commercial goods.
Francis Commeyne’s We Are All Humans In Little Boxes commands attention simply because it has been installed in a huge crate that occupies a third of the gallery space. Inside the giant box, the artist has arranged minute coffers that contain symbols of his mixed heritage. Belgian icons like Tintin, waffles, even buckets of moules, intermingle with staples of Pinoy life: the painted barong-barong, miniature bululs, jeepney signboards. His device reminds me of Peewee Roldan’s boxed constructions of found objects.
Archie Oclos constructed gigantic contemporary tarot cards, while Louie Talents selectively burned off bible text to transform the sacred books into travel journals. The words that remain intact record his thoughts. Caroline Ongpin showed off her draughtsmanship by drawing on actual architectural plans. Her Bedroom No. 5 looks to be part of a series, and may turn out more effective when seen together with
the rest. Cian Dayrit created a bogus museum piece, while Marija Vicente scored used magazines. I have seen Marija’s drawings before, in an exhibit at Mag:net a few years ago. This piece, Never Over Painting, does not do her talent justice.
Mark Sanchez’s installation archived himself. Martin de Mesa’s video, Versus,deserves to be enjoyed in its own space, free from the distractions of other large-scale pieces at close range.
As obvious from the outset, I enjoyed coming to see this show. It captures a unique period in the development of these newly-minted artists. Inevitably, though, we have to ask: where do they go from here?
Xing E. Jacinto runs from 3 to 24 June 2011 at Tin-Aw Art Gallery, Upper GF, Somerset Olympia Makati, Makati Ave. corner Sto. Tomas Sts., Makati City. Phone (632) 892-7522 or visit http://www.tin-aw.com