The TUP Implosion

October 15, 2010

Neil Arvin Javier, "It Was So Good", mixed media (collage), 153x183 cm

Alrashdi S. Mohammad, "Expand" and "Active", mixed media, 183x137 cm

With the CCP not exactly in my neighborhood, I debated whether I had the time to swing by Implode, a special exhibit of selected alumni from the Technological University of Philippines College of Architecture and Fine Arts.  Luckily, my schedule cooperated, as did the traffic lights on EDSA, and I found myself in the CCP’s third floor gallery in half an hour, right before the show opened. Best of all, save for the artists busy with their last minute arrangements, I had the space all to myself.

Dex Fernandez, "Ready To Riot", mixed media on photograph, 90x122 cm.

What a revelation!  I didn’t realize until I saw the works gathered together how many of today’s exciting artists graduated from TUP:  Lirio Salvador, Lynyrd Paras, Mac Valdezco, Eugene Jarque, Dex Fernandez, Mark Andy Garcia, Joey Cobcobo, Froilan Calayag, Ryan Rubio, Ferdie Doctolero, Noell El Farol (who curated the exhibit).  The works lean heavily towards paintings and wall-bound pieces, but all so well-constructed.  Nobody can fault these guys for their technical skills.

Dexter Fernandez, "Hi", mixed media, 112x 165x36cm.

I have to admit a bias towards the non-paintings —Mac Valdezco’s reprised Plastic Ghost, her polymorphic sculpture from saran wrap and wire, Dex Fernandez’s Ready To Riot, mixed media on photograph, and Bente-Benteng Kuwento , Edward Simon’s installation of framed photographs. Dex’s manipulated photo complemented Hi, essentially a three-dimensional canvas piece with the texture of tooled leather, transformed into a robot-like creature.

Edward Simon, "Bente-Benteng Kuwento", photo installation

The exhibit also yielded two surprising discoveries, artists John Sy and Neil Arvin Javier.  John, who works full-time for GMA 7, showed two paintings. His canvases groan from the weight of figures compressed so close together that they seem to meld into one single pattern. They remind me of David Cortez Medalla’s piece in the Ateneo Art Gallery collection.  Arvin, on the other hand, brought out a collage from his stash of pieces,  works he has only shown to “underground” galleries. I thought It Was So Good ,with its references to graffiti art, was one of  the most eye catching  in the entire show.  It would be great to see what else these two can do!

John Sy, "Night Sky", 122x214 cm.

Implode runs from 14 October to 28 November 2010 at the Bulwagang Juan Luna, 3F Cultural Center of the Philippines, Roxas Blvd, Manila.  For more information call  the CCP Visual Arts and Museo Division (632) 832-3702.

Joey Cobcobo, "Insomnia", oil on canvas, 122x153 cm.

John Sy with "Proof Of Life", acrylic on canvas, 183x122 cm.

Eugene Jarque, "The Roamer", mixed media, 183x122 cm.

Ferdinand Doctolero, "Tri-Part-Tied",mixed media on canvas, 183x183 cm.

Eric Guanzon, "Fifty-Seven Deaths", inkjet print on aquarelle paper

BJ Esber, "Ulyanin", acrylic on canvas, 90x90cm.

Lexygus Calip, untitled, mixed media, 183x122 cm.

Lynyrd Paras with "Wasak Kung Wasak", oil on canvas, 183x183cm.

Mac Valdezco, "Plastic Ghost"

Ryan Jara, "Which Way", mixed media, 197 x 197 cm.

Ryan Rubio, "Dancing Maria"


Dex Fernandez and His Incredible Low Brows

January 19, 2010

Dex Fernandex, "Untitled 6"

For those willing to brave the winter winds and record temperature drops of New York in January, Robert Williams‘ exhibit of paintings and sculpture, Conceptual Realism, runs until the third week of the month.  For the rest of us, the James Kalm Report of artist Loren Munk provides a great taste of this show on YouTube.  Next month, Williams, founder of Juxtapoz magazine, will exhibit more of his work at the Whitney Biennial.

At roughly the same time that Williams’ show opened in November 2009,  fashionista favorite W came out with its art issue.  They devoted a two-page spread to Williams’ former colleague, artist R. Crumb,  featuring his illustrations, specially created for the magazine, amongst splashes on the latest from Miu Miu and Jil Sander.  The accessibility now accorded to both Williams and Crumb offer positive proof that an art movement that had collectively been dismissed with the label Low Brow has been elevated to the status of the mainstream.

Dex Fernandez, "Untitled 5", a high priestess comfortable in her own skin

Here in Manila, while we have been slow on the uptake, purveyors of this crass, perhaps even gross, representations of  the excrement of life, rendered in the manner of comic-book drawings, have had their own successes.  We have seen this especially in the last half-decade.  Late last year, Robert Langenegger had his Paris come out.  Louie Cordero, who has shown in New York, contiues to make waves with his current Hong Kong exhibit at Osage, the gallery that represents him in the former Crown Colony.  And now, enter Dex Fernandez with -+*.

Dex Fernandez, "Untitled 3", the non-believer who mocks faith symbols. Letters at back DILLIGAF stand for "Do I Look Like I Give A Fuck?"

In this first solo exhibit, mounted  at Pablo in Taguig, Dex uses photos of his friends and family as the base of his fascinating mixed media pieces.  He prints the photos on archival paper and adds textures and layers to striking fruition.  Dex piles on images in acrylic, ink,  or embroidery, and also cuts patterns through the paper.  His pieces resemble the pages of a much-doodled, R-rated scrapbook.  Dont’ expect to see them on the walls of the squeamish.

Dex lets loose on what he calls ” the little monsters we’ve been keeping inside ourselves” bringing to the fore some of the good, most of the bad, and a whopping amount of the ugly and vulgar.  These manipulations serve as frank commentaries on either his subjects’ characteristics (he labels his father an impotent machine and  gently mocks his mother’s  need for false teeth), their emotional states (two women falling, reflecting on  wasted youth), or their political and religious views (a fool giving Catholic  icons the finger).

Dex Fernandez, "Untitled 4". Characters translate to "She's wearing a nice dress"

Congratulations to Dex for this awesome debut! With his fifteen compelling pieces, he proves that definitely, even here in Manila, Low Brow has  risen to high art.

Dex Fernandez, "Untitled 10", symbols of freedom and liberty are stamped onto this image

Dex Fernandex, "Untitled 7", reflections on wasted youth and life's fluctuations

-+* Dex Fernandez First Solo Exhibit runs from 20 January to 24 February 2010 at PABLO Fort, Unit C-11 South of Market Condominium, Fort Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.  Phone (632) 986-3887 or visit

Dex Fernandez, "Untitled 12"

Dex Fernandez, "Untitled 8"

All smiles from the man of the hour!

Dex Fernandez, "Untitled 13"

Dex Fernandez, "Untitled 1" and "Untitled 2", Dex's parents