On The Range at Blanc Compound

July 9, 2011

Mariano Ching, "Under The Western Sky Series 3"

The exhibit’s title did puzzle me, but it should have clued me in.  Clint Eastwood in Hats On, Bottoms Off shows works inspired by Westerns—the cowboys and Indians variety, an odd, unexpected choice of concepts.  But a chat with artist Allan Balisi, who had thought this up with Cos Zicarelli, revealed that there is nothing more to this than a bunch of cowboy movie enthusiasts getting together to produce work.  Everyone in the group was game enough to stick to the plan.

Mariano Ching, "Under The Western Sky Series 2"

Dex Fernandez, "Date With The Bandit"

Mariano Ching showed more of his pyrographs on wood, a series of small-scale works with detailed images in miniature.  I especially marveled at the two pieces of found twigs that he worked on.  Dex Fernandez’s Date With A Bandit, two figures cut from carton, painted and adorned with actual t-shirts, gave the old fashioned shoot out some urban edge.  Sam Kiyoumarsi presented another of his pithy photographs, Mum, that of an

Costantino Zicarelli, "Demento Mori"

emaciated mare feeding on grass alongside her colt.  Cos Zicarelli chose to exhibit his drawing on an actual cow skull.

Tatong Recheta Torres paints again!  Outcast is a portrait of a Native American with a lone feather on his head.   I admit the subject does not interest me, but his execution, monochromatic gray in fine strokes, cannot be faulted.  Check out the lines on the man’s

Sam Kiyoumarsi, "Mum"

face.  I don’t know how his Second Life stint has affected him otherwise, but his painting skills obviously remain intact.

Jonathan Ching, "Shopping With Botero's Leg"

Other artists in the show:  Dina Gadia, Mica Cabildo, Mark Salvatus, Wesley Valenzuela, Wawi Navarroza, Jonathan Ching, and Charles Buenconsejo.

Clint Eastwood in Hats On, Bottoms Off runs from 7 to 28 July 2011 at Blanc Compound, 359 Shaw Boulevard Interior, Mandaluyong City.  Phone (63920) 9276436 or visit http://www.blanc.ph

Allan Balisi, "They Were No Longer Savages 1 and 2"

Mica Cabildo, "A Cure For Cabin Fever"

Dina Gadia, "Hell Raiser"

By Mark Salvatus

Tatong Recheta Torres, "Outcast"

Wawi Navarozza, "Where Have All The Cowboys Gone"


Mariano Ching And His Portrait Series

February 25, 2011

Mariano Ching, "Portrait Series: Dog-Faced Boy"

The glossy, hyper realistic, gigantic celebrity portraits of American artist Richard Phillips stimulated the concept behind Even Bad Days Are Good, Mariano Ching’s solo exhibit now on view at SLab.  Phillips’ glammed up subjects, sourced from photographs of the famous, icons of popular culture, and even soft-porn movie stars, look out vacantly from within their frames.  They stare stiffly back at viewers, frozen in their perfection, devoid of emotion.

Mariano Ching, "Portrait Series: Man With Three Eyes"

Nano sought to create antitheses of these flawless faces.  A book of Diane Arbus’ photographs led him to circus freaks, to the idea of portraying their aberrations in magnified proportions.  In this show, he has introduced us to work he collectively calls his Portrait Series.

The three faces Nano painted as part of this series, Dog Faced Boy, Man With Three Eyes, and The Elephant Man, depart from work he has done in the past.  We have come to associate him with fantastic landscapes full of microscopic details. However, he has always shown a partiality towards elements of science fiction and the exaggerated imagery of Japanese anime.  So it does not come as too

Mariano Ching's Three Freaky Portraits

much of a surprise that mutants have drawn him in.  Dog Faced Boy, the show’s invitation piece, is especially notable for the polish with which Nano has completed it. He obviously spent time working on this painting.

Wild Man and The Four-Legged Woman, the show’s biggest canvases at 7ft x 6ft

Mariano Ching, "Portrait Series: Wild Man"

each, hew closer to Nano’s typical work.  More narratives than portraits, he has set his subjects amidst an expanse of empty space, a device he has frequently used before.  I like the movement in Wild Man, although it would have worked just as well on a smaller canvas.

Mariano Ching, "Portrait Series: Landscape"

The exhibit also includes four of his pyrographs and acrylics on wood.  Their titles indicate that they belong to his Portrait Series, even if strictly speaking, they should not.  They also don’t seem to have anything to do with the paintings on canvas.  None of their subjects relate to circus freaks, at least, not as far as I can tell. But with them, one can’t but appreciate Nano’s skill in working small-scale.  They  do showcase him at his best.

Mariano Ching, "Portait Series: Seascape"

Even Bad Days Are Good runs from 16 February to 19 March 2011 at SLab, 2f YMC Bldg., 2320 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City.  Phone (632) 816-0044 or visit http://www.slab.silverlensphoto.com

Detail, "Portrait Series: Seascape"

Mariano Ching, "Elephant Man"

Mariano Ching, "Portrait Series: Four-Legged Woman"

Mariano Ching, "Portrait Series: Objects"

Mariano Ching, "Portrait Series: Another Landscape"

All In The Family: Mariano, Yasmin, and Haraya Ching

September 5, 2010
Mariano and Haraya Ching, "Jelly Ace Series 5" and "Jelly Ace Series 6", pyrograph and acrylic in wood

Mariano and Haraya Ching, "Jelly Ace Series 5" and "Jelly Ace Series 6", pyrograph and acrylic on wood

Just call it family bonding, Ching-style.  To most parents, especially those with busy careers and young children, spending time with their families means doing things together, mostly on weekends:  eating out, catching a movie, indulging in sports, visiting grandparents.  To artists Yasmin Sison and Mariano Ching,  it is inevitable that in addition to these, art plays a large part in their interaction with their five-year-old son, Haraya. They have  both just come off from doing work for shows out of Manila (Yasmin’s solo, Spaces In Between, was at Artesan in Singapore in June, while Nano participates in Japan’s Aichi Triennale this month). In this exhibit, Games For Growing, at Blanc Peninsula,  they come together as a couple and as a family, showing individual and collaborative work borne out of their role as parents to a precocious child.  To quote from Yasmin’s exhibit statement,”…the exhibition

Yasmin Sison and Mariano Ching, "Defying Gravity", 48x36 per panel, acrylic, enamel, and oil on canvas

though is mostly about play or at least trying to capture the essence of it in our work, the spontaneity and fun that comes so easily in the works of our child and which for us is an elusive thing that we try to capture.”

Haraya, "Dummies Series", iron bar, acrylic, wood

Both Nano and Yasmin looked back to their own experiences and interests as children to put together their work for this show.  This accounts for the lively innocence  that pervades throughout the exhibit, a feel underscored all the more by the display of works by Haraya himself.  His sketches of heroes have been magnified and transformed into steel sculpture that stand about three feet tall, and have been painted bright, primary colors.  Nano and Yasmin have also used his drawings of masks to create wall-bound sculpture in wood,  with Nano tracing out Haraya’s lines with a pyrography pen, then using acrylic for color.  Yasmin mounted 20 framed collages, a series she calls Gepetto’s Workshop, where she used images cut out from books of Disney’s Pinocchio.  Nano had one steel piece finished with automotive paint.  It is made up of four letters

Detail, "Defying Gravity"

that spell “apes”, reflecting a childhood affinity for science fiction (I’m guessing Planet Of The Apes) that still comes across his works today.

Yasmin Sison, "Gepetto's Workshop Series", 12"x21", collage

An interesting exercise undertaken by husband and wife are their attempts at doing collaborative paintings.  Yasmin admitted that this posed a challenge as they work with different styles.  They had three triptychs of varied sizes (the smallest at 16″x16″ per panel, the largest at 48″x36″ per panel).  I thought they carried this off pretty well; the pieces did not end up looking like they tried too hard to put it together.

Overall, while I don’t think the show brings out significant pieces to add to their body of work, Yasmin and Nano’s celebration and

Detail of one of Yasmin Sison's "Gepetto's Workshop" collages

pride in their role as parents permeate so palpably.  We see another dimension to them as artists.  As Yasmin puts it: “This exhibition looks back at our childhood, but also moves [us] forward,  as we try new things and get out of our comfort zone. In this way not only our son, but we as well,  are included in the game of growing.”

Another detail from a Gepetto's Workshop collage

Games For Growing runs from 4 to 25 September 2010 at Blanc Peninsula,  Peninsula Manila Hotel arcade (facing Makati Avenue), Makati City.  Phone (63920) 927-6436 or visit http://www.blanc.ph

Yasmin Sison and Mariano Ching, "Diving Sphere", acrylic, enamel, and oil on canvas, 56"x 16"

Haraya, "Dummies Series", iron bar, acrylic, and wood

Mariano and Haraya Ching, "Jelly Ace 1", "Jelly Ace 2", "Jelly Ace 3", pyrograph and acrylic on wood

Mariano Ching, "Apes", acrylic and automotive paint on steel

Detail, "Apes"

Yasmin Sison and Mariano Ching, "Wishful Thinking", 16"x16" per panel, acrylic, collage, enamel, and oil on canvas

Installation of Gepetto's Workshop series of collages

Of Skulls and Butterflies: ARTHK 10

May 30, 2010

Damien Hirst, "Transcience Painting"

Skulls and butterflies may as well have been the  mantra of ARTHK 10, this year’s edition of the Hong Kong Art Fair. You saw them everywhere, most notably those of the Damien Hirst variety. The artist’s London representatives, Jay Jopling’s

Detail, Damien Hirst butterfly collage

White Cube, organized a special exhibit of Hirst’s works in a separate space alongside their own booth.  Billed as one of the fair’s special projects, the exhibit showed a range of his works:  one spot painting, an installation of 6000 colored glass stones in a steel medicine cabinet, even The Inescapable Truth, Hirst’s formaldehyde work of a dove hovering over a white skull.  Painted skulls hung on the walls, smaller versions of  Hirst’s most recent work exhibited at The Wallace Collection.  The show also included his butterfly collages, actual butterflies forming kaleidoscopic patterns or suspended on brightly-colored household gloss.  Several other galleries within the fair carried more of these butterfly pieces.  Hong Kong is the land of labels and logos, and Damien Hirst is the ultimate art brand.  Nothing screams ART COLLECTION as much as a flock of these babies hanging on your walls!

Damien Hirst, "Beautiful Squashed Butterfly Painting"

But hey, without Hong Kong’s culture of conspicuous consumption we would not enjoy an art fair of this calibre so close to Manila’s shores.  Eager to take advantage of the might of the Chinese purse, as well as attract collectors from this side of the Pacific, the titans of the commercial art world came in full force—and brought pieces from significant artists with them.  Anish Kapoor, Louise Bourgeois, Roni Horn, Subodh Gupta, Antony Gormley, Chuck Close, Gilbert and George, Tracy Emin, Lucian Freud, Murakami, Andy Warhol, they were all there. You also had Picasso and Giacommetti and Henry MooreYoshitomo Nara had a solo show at the Marianne Boesky space.  They featured his signature wide-eyed “kid-dults” in huge ceramic plates, his latest medium of choice.  I did not realize that one of my favorite artists, Yinka Shonibare MBE, had a piece on display until the Vernissage almost closed for the night.  I had already walked through

Spot on: Damien Hirst, "Denatonium Benzoate"

the exit doors when  I skimmed through the fair’s catalogue.  I ran back in—stilettos and all, in true tai tai fashion — to savor a piece of heaven.  Heaven, in this case, being Shonibare’s Woman On Flying Machine, a remnant of his 2008 show at the James Cohan Gallery in Shanghai.  For that exhibit, they filled a historic building with his mannequins in varied tableaux, all clad in 18th century French fashions.  He uses headless mannequins to hark back to aristocratic guillotine victims.  The brightly-patterned cotton used to costume  the mannequins migrated to West Africa via the Dutch East Indies, perfect for his commentary on colonialism.  What I would give to have seen that!  Still, one piece in the flesh sure beats enjoying his work only through  Art 21 downloads.

Damien Hirst, "The Inescapable Truth"

The next day, shod more sensibly in flip flops, I returned to appreciate the fair, and see the half that I missed at the reception the night before.  With less people milling about, the kids and I had a great time meandering in and out of the booths. We were lucky enough to catch Tim Marlow, Gallery Director of White Cube, as he took a tv crew around the Hirst exhibit.  Tara Donovan’s cube of stacked toothpicks from Pace Beijing proved to be a hit.  Indonesian artist Jompet Kuswidananto had a wonderful series of kinetic installations called Long March to

Damien Hirst, "Ghost Skull"

Java.  By strategically positioning objects used by a traditional Javanese army,  and integrating high-tech effects and sound, he managed to convey the martial advance of a conquering colonial force without the use of figures.  Polly Walker had us enthralled. She showed preserved baby birds hanging from tiny balloons inside bell-shaped vitrines; the string of the balloons formed a noose around the birds’ necks.  How fascinatingly gruesome!

Damien Hirst, "Laughing Skull"

Damien Hirst, "The Five Stages of Dying"

The Pinoy contingent did us proud!  Both The Drawing Room and Silverlens brought artists whose works elicited excitement

Wish we could bring this home! Yinka Shonibare MBE "Woman On Flying Machine"

from the crowd.  Marina Cruz, at The Drawing Room, caused quite a stir with UN/Fold,  an assemblage of photos of heirloom baby dresses mounted as diplomas.  She debuted this series last year,  for her Ateneo Art Awards culminating exhibit.  Within an hour of the VIP preview, the piece already had a waiting list.  The Primo Marella Gallery of Beijing and Milan also carried Pinoy art in its roster of

Detail, Yinka Shonibare MBE, "Woman On Flying Machine"

Southeast Asian artists.   They displayed two Geraldine Javier pieces, small-scale mixed media diptychs, as well as an assortment of Ronald Ventura’s resin scultpure, plus a Nona Garcia painting from the Prague Biennale.  Korea’s Arario Gallery had three Leslie de Chavez paintings from his Banana Republic series. They also sold these during the preview.     Silverlens exhibited an amazing Bea Valdes

Detail, Yinka Shonibare MBE, "Woman On Flying Machine"

soft sculpture of a white bull’s head swathed in a diaphanous veil.  So luxe!  A European collector just couldn’t stop talking about it.  By the third day of the fair, the ladies from Silverlens had to redo the installation of works in their booth.  Collectors had already carted off choice pieces.  Other Filipino artists exhibiting in ARTHK 10:  Rodel Tapaya, Kawayan de Guia, Kiko Escora, Leeroy New, Gary Ross Pastrana, Patty Eustaquio, Luis Lorenzana, Isa Lorenzo, and Mariano Ching.


Detail, Marina Cruz, "UN/Fold Series"


Jun and Kat Villalon at The Drawing Room booth with works by Marina Cruz and Kiko Escora

Right next door to the Convention Center, at the Grand Hyatt, Sotheby’s set up a two-day preview of the highlights of their upcoming London auctions.  The centerpiece of the Impressionist and Modern Art sale, Manet’s self-portrait with a palette, hung alongside Odalisques Jouant Aux Dames of Matisse.   The preview also included choice pieces for the Contemporary Art sale, Warhol’s Camouflage Self Portrait and Richard Prince’s Millionaire Nurse, as well as eye popping bling for their jewelry sales.

Admiring UN/Fold by Marina Cruz

Christie’s, on the other hand, deliberately set their spring auctions for Modern and Contemporary Asian and Southeast Asian Art to coincide with ARTHK 10.  It felt a bit disconcerting to walk into the preview hall,  a space filled with mostly paintings,  after the variety of media that stimulated the senses in the fair. Here the atmosphere was hushed and formal.  Somehow, that made the art feel a bit flat.  Jose John Santos III marked his return to the auction circuit with The Closet, another jaw-dropping piece. Geraldine Javier did a rendition of Frida Kahlo in a celestial pose.  Akin to the Blessed Virgin, she contemplates  a pair of white doves in her hands.  Frida stands completely surrounded by jewel-toned blooms.  Embedded onto the painting, within gilt-edged frames covered in glass, are Geraldine’s beautifully-embroidered flowers and –what else but?– preserved butterflies.

Leslie de Chavez, "My Way"

Bea Valdes, "In Memoriam"

ARTHK 10 runs from 27 to 30 May 2010 at the Hong Kong Conventions and Exhibitions Center.  For more information, visit http://www.hongkongartfair.com


Paulino Que viewing Nona Garcia

Geraldine Javier, "Ash"

Geraldine Javier, "Leaf"

Kawayan de Guia, "Modern Guilt"

Kawayan de Guia, "White Shade of Pale"

An assortment of Ronald Ventura sculpture

By Ronald Ventura

By Ronald Ventura

By Ronald Ventura

By Ronald Ventura

Rodel Tapaya, "The Beginning Of Man"

Rodel Tapaya, "The Request of the Great Lumawig"

Super piece! Mariano Ching, "European Son Series 3"

Leeroy New, "Gorgon Sola"

Luis Lorenzana, "Dama del Cigarillo" and "Hombre del Cigarillo"

Gary Ross Pastrana, "Abandoned Prototype for Design Firm Broke No.4" and "Abandoned Prototype for Design Firm Broke No. 1"

Polly Walker, "Still Birth 2010", preserved baby bird hanging from a balloon

Yoshitomo Nara ceramic pieces from solo show at Marianne Boesky Gallery booth

Tara Donovan toothpick cube

By Agus Suwage

Alberto Giacometti, "Buste de Femme 1946"

Andy Warhol, "Beatle Boots"

Upside down inside an Anish Kapoor

By Anish Kapoor

An Antony Gormley sculpture against a Gary Hume painting

Antony Gormley works on paper

Aya Takano, "Concrete Beach"

Aya Takano, "Isezaki Explodes"

Hwang Ho Sup, "Buddha Face"

At the Pace Beijing booth,Zhang Huan Buddha head from cowhide,

By Cai Guo Quiang

By Chuck Close

Chuck Close detail

Subodh Gupta, "Only One Tiffin"

Detail, Subodh Gupta, "Only One Tiffin"

Louise Bourgeois, "Mirror"

Subodh Gupta and Louise Bourgeois

Ed Ruscha, "Oh"

Gilbert and George, "Britishers"

Gilbert and George, "Britain"

HC Berg, "Lightspace--Inner Momentum", an ARTHK10 Special Project

HC Berg, "Visual Vortex-Oily Colours-Butterflies-Wave III"

HC Berg, "Skulls"

Henry Moore sculpture


Indieguerillas, detail

J Ariadhitya Pramuhendra, "Ashes to Ashes"

By Eko Nugroho

Jack Pierson, "Last Chance"

Jaume Plensa, "Soul of Words"

Giant birdcages---- Rirkrit Tiravanija, "Ne Travaillez Jamais"

By Julian Opie

Keichi Tanaami, "Amazing World"

Floor installation by Do Ho Suh

Another view, Do Ho Suh floor installation

Still another view, Do Ho Suh floor installation

Lucian Freud, "Sally Clark "

Ai Weiwei, "Map Office"

Martin Creed, "Work No. 293 Sheet of Paper Crumpled Into A Ball"

Martin Creed, "Work No. 914"

Yoshitomo Nara, "The Crated Room In Iceland/Drawing Room"

Takashi Murakami, "Flowers, Flowers, Flowers"

Pablo Picasso, "Personage"

From colored pencils, Lionel Bawden, "the caverns of temporal suspension(of flesh, earth, blood, and the undergrowth"

Detail, Lionel Bawden

Richard Prince, "Untitled"

Richard Prince, "A Nurse Called Happy"

Roni Horn, "White Dickinson, heinheritshisuncleemilysardorforlife"

By Tracy Emin

Checking out another Tracy Emin

Drawing by Yoshitomo Nara

Yoshitomo Nara at Marianne Boesky Gallery

By Hitoshi Sugimoto

Smashing pumpkin! By Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama, "Dots Accumulation"

Yue Minjun, "Picture of Noble Bather"

Zhang Xiaogang , "Green Wall-Husband and Wife"

Jompet Kuswidananto, "Long March To Java"

Detail, Jin Nv, "Wormhole"

More Yoshitomo Nara drawings

I was allowed one shot: Geraldine Javier, Jose John Santos III, and Ronald Ventura at the Christie's Auction Preview


Dragons at Manila Contemporary Gallery

August 23, 2009
Mariano Ching, "Stigmata (Left Hand)"

Mariano Ching, "Stigmata (Left Hand)"

I get wary when an exhibit’s list of artists reads like your Friends on Facebook (well, not mine).  All too often, these mega-group shows have walls merely carpeted with paintings.

Mariano Ching, "Stigmata (Right Hand)"

Mariano Ching, "Stigmata (Right Hand)"

Galleries end up like your third grade art classroom, everybody’s works just hang there with no rhyme or reason.

So to be honest, I hesitated to see this.  But I suppose when you have Ronald Achacoso and Nilo Ilarde working to put together an exhibit, they manage to steer it from the usual mishmash.  The show’s title, Here Be Dragons, comes from the tradition of medieval map makers to mark the unexplored and the unknown with serpents and other such creatures.  Frankly, I had to ask about the

concept that tied things together.  As the way of group shows of this size,  works came out uneven.  And maybe, it isn’t such a good thing when pieces we’ve seen before get rehashed to fit into another

Exhibit installation view from top

Exhibit installation view from top

idea.  But that doesn’t mean that you don’t find gems.  This show has its share.  Nilo’s installation makes it easy to appreciate each of the artists’ pieces.  It must have been difficult figuring out which works to group together.  That you do not feel stifled and overwhelmed must be credited to his use of  the gallery’s wonderful space.  And the natural light streaming in from the floor to ceiling windows helps make for very agreeable viewing.

Felix Bacolor, " Philippine Geographical Maps from National Mapping and Resource Information Authority"

Felix Bacolor, " Philippine Geographical Maps from National Mapping and Resource Information Authority"

I loved Mariano Ching’s Stigmatas, wooden hands embellished with pyrographs and acrylic images of serpents, lions, crusading ships, and Catholic missionaries.  Felix Bacolor’s installation has a great story behind it.  He

Yasmin Sison, "After Chabet's Boat"

Yasmin Sison, "After Chabet's Boat"

trekked to the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority to seek discards.  Instead they gave him the run of closets full of pre-war Philippine maps.

He shows just a fraction here, the others to be used for future projects.

Funny that I mentioned a grade school classroom project earlier.   Yasmin Sison actually brought one with her in After Chabet’s Boat where she uses paintings of Philippine maps by students of the Cavite Institute.

Whether or not they fit into the show’s concept, Johnny Alcazaren, Bernie Pacquing,  Gerardo Tan, and Trek  Valdizno always deliver quality. Nilo and Chabet as usual,  make us think.

Alwin Reamillo and Juliet Lea, "Kakainin Ba Nila ang mga Saging"

Alwin Reamillo and Juliet Lea, "Kakainin Ba Nila ang mga Saging"

Next to Nano Ching’s piece, I would love to take home  Alwin Reamillo and Juliet Lea’s Kakainin Ba Nila Ang Mga Saging. Unfortunately, unlike the President, I can’t afford the cost of a  dinner at Le Cirque.  Come to think of it, that money would have been better spent on this.

Detail, "Kakainin Ba Nila Ang Mga Saging"

Detail, "Kakainin Ba Nila Ang Mga Saging"

View of installation with works of Bernie Pacquing(left) and Jonathan Olazo (right)

View of installation with works of Bernie Pacquing(left) and Jonathan Olazo (right)

Gerardo Tan, "Track 1"

Gerardo Tan, "Track 1"

Here Be Dragons with Ronald Achacoso, Alex Aguilar, Johnny Alcazaren, Poklong Anading, Felix Bacolor, Ringo Bunoan, Bea

Louie Cordero,

Louie Cordero,"Norwegian Wood"

Camacho, Roberto Chabet, Mariano Ching, Lena Cobanbang, Louie Cordero, Bembol dela Cruz, Dodo Dayao, Nilo Ilarde, Manuel Ocampo, Jonathan Olazo, Jayson Oliveria, Bernardo Pacquing, Gary Ross Pastrana, Alwin Reamillo, Raul Rodriguez, Juni Salvador, Gerardo Tan, Jay Ticar, Trek Valdizno, Cris Villanueva, Reg Yuson runs from 15 August to 6 September 2009 at the Manila Contemporary Gallery, Whitespace, 2314 Chino Roces Ave, Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati.  Phone (632) 844-7228 or visit http://www.manilacontemporary.com

Johnny Alcazaren, "Slow Leak"

Johnny Alcazaren, "Slow Leak"

Mariano Ching’s Minimalist Apocalypse

July 23, 2009
Mariano Ching, "Slight Ripples on a Dim Horizon"

Mariano Ching, "Slight Ripples On The Dim Horizon"

Mariano Ching, "Slight Ripples On The Dim Horizon"(Detail)

Mariano Ching, "Slight Ripples On The Dim Horizon"(Detail)

For works influenced by comic books and cartoons, Mariano Ching’s images feel surprisingly quiet.  You first notice his empty spaces, both on his acrylics

Mariano Ching, "Wonder Boy"

Mariano Ching, "Wonder Boy"

on large canvases and on his smaller paper pieces.  You would expect, just as in Japanese anime novels,  surfaces brimming over with forms and figures rendered in loud, bold colors.  Sort of like Takashi Murakami or even Louie Cordero.  Instead you get works that beckon, compelling you to look closely at the

Mariano Ching, "Wonder Boy" (Detail)

Mariano Ching, "Wonder Boy" (Detail)

compact images all scrunched together.  Only then do you appreciate Nano’s  details, so finely and minutely wrought.  You wonder, as I did aloud to him, whether he paints while looking through a microscope or a magnifying glass.

Mariano Ching, "Mounds and Moles 5"

Mariano Ching, "Mounds and Moles 5"

His recent paintings, including those in this show, use a lot of rainbows, arcs of red, purple, green, blue, and yellow.  Because of this, and of the bright colors he employs, you don’t immediately perceive how melancholic or freaky his figures are:  girls with large distended heads, severed body parts, distorted faces, a pile of garbage and muck.  That the show brings

Mariano Ching, "Mounds and Moles 8"

Mariano Ching, "Mounds and Moles 8"

us to an imaginary wasteland, a site that reels from an environmental disaster, becomes apparent only after awhile.  His minimalist sensibilities, acquired from his two years as a printmaking major at the Kyoto Arts

Mariano Ching, "Divine Hammer", one of his two painted signages

Mariano Ching, "Divine Hammer", one of his two painted signages

University, seem at first in direct opposition to his preoccupation with science fiction and apocalyptic images.  Yet, this dichotomy actually makes him more interesting.

I love his wall-bound sculpture, what he calls painted signages.  Manufactured from metal sheets, laser cut and shaped with precision, he paints them as he would his canvases.  They come out not only so well-fabricated, he has made them so distinctly his own.

Mariano Ching, "Great Deeds"

Mariano Ching, "Great Deeds"

View of the exhibit installation

View of the exhibit installation

Dead Ends And False Starts by Mariano Ching runs from 15 July to 8 August 2009 at SLab, 2F YMC Bldg. 2, 2320 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City.  Phone (632)816-0044 or visit http://www.slab.silverlensphoto.com

Mariano Ching, "Mounds and Moles 7"

Mariano Ching, "Mounds and Moles 7"

America Ain’t That Sweet for Hannah Pettyjohn and Small Wonders at Mag:net Ayala

May 11, 2009
Hannah Pettyjohn, "DFW RIP (Urban Sprawl) and "American Mary"

Hannah Pettyjohn, "DFW RIP (Urban Sprawl)" and "American Mary"


A little more than two years ago, half- American Hannah Pettyjohn spent time in Texas to reconnect with her roots. While there, she worked at a geotechnical engineering lab, lived in a white house that looked exactly like all the other houses in the neighborhood, got to know her father’s family, and read David Foster Wallace.

In this exhibit, Hannah

Hannah Pettyjohn, "JCD", "JTP", and "HCP"

Hannah Pettyjohn, "JCD", "JTP", and "HCP"

channels the isolation she felt as a temporary transplant into middle America. She portrays her subjects donning surgical masks similar to those she herself had to wear at her job, and then declines to call them by their names. She refers to them simply by their initials. The masks, because of what remains concealed, create barriers that discourage any chances of  real intimacy or empathy between us, the viewers, and these nameless subjects. They remain distant and aloof from us, just as they remained virtual strangers to Hannah, and she to them.

Around the exhibit, Hannah has scattered cast plaster replicas of the houses in her Dallas neighborhood, each one mirror images of each other.  She recreates the tedium and repetition so typical of a soulless suburban panorama. She even records landscape from behind car windows, once again imposing a gulf, an invisible gap that keeps her, and us, at a distance.

American Sweet by Hannah Pettyjohn can be viewed from 6 May to 6 June at SLab, 2f YMC Bldg., 2320 Chino Roces Ave. Extension, Makati City. Ph: (632)816-0044 or visit www.slab.silverlensphoto.com


Mac Valdezco, from her Invisible Pilot series

Mac Valdezco, from her Invisible Pilot series

Ikoy Riccio, "Sheep"

Ikoy Riccio, "Sheep"

Here comes a show so aptly titled for the dimensions of both the pieces on display and the size of the gallery. Mag:net’s branch at The Columns in Ayala Avenue barely holds ten people at once in its narrow expanse, yet has somehow

Yasmin Sison Ching, "Crochet Experiment 2"

Yasmin Sison Ching, "Crochet Experiment 2"

managed to host some pretty interesting shows. This one, conceptualized by husband and wife, artists Yasmin and Mariano Ching, fits the venue perfectly. They wanted to showcase deliberately minute works evident for their handcrafted quality. All nine artists deliver delightful miniature extensions of past bodies of work. I love Mac Valdezco’s shoes from clingwrap, her current medium of choice. Yasmin Ching’s piece continues her experiments with producing soft sculpture from yarns she crochets herself, first seen in her piece for the Surrounded By Water group show at Blanc Compound. Other standouts for me include Ikoy Riccio’s sheep sculpture from paper clips and Mike Munoz’s lightbox.

Mike Munoz, "IXOYE(Fish)"

Mike Munoz, "IXOYE(Fish)"

I hate to resort to the cliche small but terrible, but really, that’s what this show is all about: small works that have been made so well that they can give some of the humongous wall-bound stuff currently on view in other galleries a run for their money (and that’s another cliche!).

Bea Camacho, "Gloves", limited edition photograph

Bea Camacho, "Gloves", limited edition photograph

Shoebox Dioramas, group show of Bea Camacho, Eugene Jarque, Hitoshi Kanamura, Ikoy Riccio, Jordin Isip, Mac Valdezco, Mariano Ching, Mike Munoz, Yasmin Sison, is up from 6 May to 1 June at Mag:net at The Columns in Ayala Avenue. Ph (632)929-3191 or visit www.magnetgalleries.com

Mariano Ching, "(Unknown Pleasure)"

Mariano Ching, "(Unknown Pleasure)"

Eugene Jarque, "Color Handbook of Garden Insects"

Eugene Jarque, "Color Handbook of Garden Insects"

Jordin Isip, part of Head 1, 2, 3, 4

Jordin Isip, part of Head 1, 2, 3, 4