Lyra Garcellano’s Epistolary

September 6, 2011
Lyra Garcellano, "Aria"

Lyra Garcellano, "Aria"

After disappearing for a year, spending six months of 2010 in an Asian Cultural Council grant in New York, Lyra Garcellano has come back with wonderful new work.  In Epistolary, her solo exhibit at Finale Art File, Lyra has treated us to five paintings she describes as imprints.  Faint figures whisper from her canvases, barely discernible through her loose pastel strokes.  All of women, their floral frocks blur into the background, creating sheer, almost abstract, patterns.  Her paintings have always stood out for their delicacy and softness, and evoke a sense of romantic melancholia.  This set keeps to that sensibility,  progressing naturally from her previous pieces.  To me, they seem to project a more confident Lyra.

Lyra Garcellano, "Etcetera"

The show runs as one of three, all by women artists.  At Finale’s Tall Gallery, Keiye Miranda Tuazon has turned portraits into giant lockets for her show Strangely Familiar.  Marija Vicente, meanwhile, has taken over the gallery’s Video Room.

Lyra Garcellano, "Pentimento"

Epistolary by Lyra Garcellano, Strangely Familiar by Keiye Miranda Tuazon, and something something by Marija Vicente run from 2 to 27 September 2011 at Finale Art File, Warehouse 17, La Fuerza Compound, 2241 Pasong Tamo, Makati City.  Phone (632) 813-2310 or visit

Lyra Garcellano, "Aria" and "Mise-en-Scene"

Lyra Garcellano, "Enamore"

Keiye Miranda Tuazon's locket portraits

Marija Vicente, "something something", exhibit installation view



Six Young Artists On The Radar at SLab

July 4, 2011

When Gary-Ross Pastrana conceptualized On The Radar:  6 New Symptoms, he went back to the original brief for SLab, the gallery where the show now runs.  SLab or Silverlens Lab had been intended as a space that welcomes visual arts

Maria Jeona, "Identity crazy, your own worst enemy, hair and makeup by Maria Jeona"

experiments, a complement to silverlens, Manila’s first gallery devoted to photography projects.  What better way to revisit this thrust than to put together an exhibit of six artists who have just started making names for themselves?  As the exhibit’s curator, Gary gave them a bit of a nudge and a push, required nothing drastic, but squeezed out more from what they are currently doing.

Ryan Villamael, "Bling"

The show does not break new ground, we don’t see any earth shaking statements from Catalina Africa, Dina Gadia, Gail Vicente, Marija Vicente, Ryan Villamael, and Maria Jeona.  I enjoyed it nevertheless.  The pieces work well together, you don’t feel overwhelmed or left scratching your head.  The works were fun and engaging, with just the right touch of edginess to make for exciting viewing.  The exhibit has provided an opportunity for added insight into these six.

Ryan Villamael, "Bling", detail

I thought that Ryan Villamael, incidentally the only male in the group, delivered an exemplary piece.  Bling continues his series of creating intricate patterns from paper that he has cut by hand.  I have to admit that when I first saw his solo, Cut Felt, earlier this year, his work

Another angle for "Bling"

reminded me too much of Kara Walker’s cut out shadows.  However, I have seen more from him since, his follow up at West Gallery, and now this.  He seems to be on to something here, challenging himself to move what may initially come off as a crafty technique into the realm of sculpture.

Ryan Villamael with his piece

Trust Maria Jeona not to shrink from celebrating her crassness.  Nobody else can pull this off like she can.  Three inflatable kiddie pools serve as frames for her self-portraits.  In If I Were A Fish, the pool has been filled with water, and sanitary napkins stained with red paint (I’m assuming—hoping— she used paint), float within.  She told me she often sees herself as a fish, and thus, we are presented with this.  Laptop shows her laptop inside one of the pools.  Just like for most of us, her life’s details have been saved within its memory.  The funniest of the three involves a bust that looks like it has been salvaged from beauty school experiments.  Identity crazy, your own worst enemy, hair and makeup by Maria Jeona shows how she would fare if she had allowed herself free reign on her grooming.

Perusing Maria Jeona, "Laptop by Maria Jeona"

The work of Catalina Africa shares the same aesthetic as Maria Jeona:  colorful and kitschy, and (at the risk of betraying my age) a little bit of Jolina Magdangal.  There’s seems to be a bit of a fashionista slant going on here—a multi-colored fan-shaped

Maria Jeona, "If I were a fish"

canvas, a panel of bleached denim, makeshift platform sandals, and a backlit photograph of whimsical rings adorning a pair of hands.

Catalina Africa, "Platforms"

The last three artists all presented installations.  Marija Vicente had two pieces,  a mass of bound cloth, Talk Is Cheap, and a video, Too many words will lead to error, both threshed out from a recurring dream.  Dina Gadia, who I am more familiar with for her

Catalina Africa, "Precious (sugar water)"

paintings and collages, presented Point of No Return, which has an intriguing banner above a collection of resin forefingers that spell out “Nooo”.  Gail Vicente’s stacked The attempt to record the lifespan of dripping water has proven to be an extremely poor idea topped off by Nest apparently has sound incorporated into the piece.  The chatter of the opening night crowd drowned this out, as I honestly cannot remember hearing any of it.

I am frequently asked for names of young artists to watch out for.  Well, here we have six.

Catalina Africa, "Bring Bring"

On The Radar:  6 New Symptoms runs from 29 June to 23 July 2011 at SLab, 2F YMC Building 2, 2320 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati.  Phone (632) 816-0044 or visit

Marija Vicente, "Talk is cheap"

Marija Vicente, "Too many words will lead to error"

Gail Vicente, "The attempt to record the lifespan of dripping water has proven to be an extremely poor idea" and "Nest"

Jeona says hello!

Exhibit installation view

Installation View, Catalina Africa, "Bleach" and Maria Jeona, "Laptop by Maria Jeona"

Catalina Africa, "Bleach", detail


Eleven New Grads Cross Into The Real World

June 8, 2011

Lou Lim, "Skin Deep"

Lou Lim, "Skin Deep", detail

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.

Lou Lim, "Skin Deep", detail

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.

Paola Germar, "Innerwear"

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.

Bea Alcala, "Here Be Demons", detail

Bea Alcala, "Here Be Demons"

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

Francis Commeyne, "We Are All Humans In Little Boxes", detail

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, "We Are All Humans in Little Boxes", detail

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, "A Glimpse of Chance"

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

Caroline Ongpin, "Bedroom No. 5"

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.

Marija Vicente, "Never Over Painting"

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.

Cian Dayrit, "Steles of Blabla"

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

Installation view, "Steles of Blabla" and "Here Be Demons"


One of Louie Talents' cauterized bibles

Mark Sanchez, "Archive of Rejected Works (ca. 2007-2011)

Martin de Mesa, "Versus", video still

Exhibit installation view

Marija Draws on Bad Manners, Jayson Manipulates Life

March 11, 2009


Count on Mag:net to bring something novel to

Marija Vicente, Bad Manners Series

Marija Vicente, Bad Manners Series

to the current crop of shows.   Whether exhibiting works of an award-winning contemporary artist, or introducing a promising art student, you can bet that both shows bring us light, easy, uncomplicated pieces.  In a word, fun.


Marija still has two years to go as a Painting major at the UP College of Fine Arts.  Already, she has made it to Rogue Magazine’s list of women artists to watch.  She gives us a chance to find out what the fuss is about as she presents 10 drawings,  what she calls foolish

Marije Vicente, Bad Manners Series

Marije Vicente, Bad Manners Series

portraits.  All pencil on paper pieces,  she captures uninhibited, even crass, behavior from subjects who have no qualms to embarassment.    Would be interesting to see what Marija does next.

Marija Vicente, Bad Manners Series

Marija Vicente, Bad Manners Series


Marija Vicente, Bad Manners Series

Marija Vicente, Bad Manners Series


Marija Vicente, Bad Manners Series

Marija Vicente, Bad Manners Series


Jayson Oliveria, "No Sign of Life" installation, Not to Inspire Awe Series of paintings on printed canvas

Jayson Oliveria, "No Sign of Life" installation, Not to Inspire Awe Series of paintings on printed canvas

Jayson puts together a show of mixed media wall-mounted and free-standing pieces, all culled  from the pages of LIFE magazine.  He paints over printed canvases, applying smudges, smears, and figures, taking over the images,  leaving his imprint, and making them his own.  Not bad.

Jayson Oliveria, "Not to Inspire Awe 8" and "Point Blank"

Jayson Oliveria, "Not to Inspire Awe 8" and "Point Blank"

Jason Oliveria, Not to Inspire Awe Series

Jason Oliveria, Not to Inspire Awe Series





Bad Manners by Marija Vicente runs from 7 to 26 March 2009, Life Expectancies by Jayson Oliveria runs from 7 March to 8  April 2009. Mag:net Katipunan is at Agcor Bldg, 335 Katipunan Ave., Loyola Heights, Quezon City.  Ph (632) 929-3191 or visit