RIEL HILARIO, ASTRAL PROJECTIONS
Karl Jung defines projections as issues that our consciousness cannot face, concerns we may end up expressing via our dreams. Riel Hilario has mined this explanation, along with a youthful obsession for astronomy, to create two sets of works for Astral Projections, currently on view at The Drawing Room. The exhibit features his most recent series of sculpture, pieces that draw on his background as a wood carver from an Ilocano family of santo makers. This heritage continues to frame
his current work. The chiseled gessoed faces of his figures, and the severe, muted palette he adopts, hark back to traditional Filipino religious sculpture.
Riel describes one group of works as portraits of the night sky. As he explains, “I took specific constellations, part of the celestial sphere, and reinterpreted them as sculptural objects.” The four-legged I have all the riddles to all your answers borrows from the constellation Leo, while Bearing The Burden of Light and A Cartesian Enigma: Joshu’s Dog look to Canis Major and Minor. The female figures of The Crab Ascendant and The Virgin Setting On The Mountain follow the configurations of Cancer and Virgo.
Observing the stars has led Riel to dreams of the forest, the inspiration for the second set of works in the show. One may describe the female figures in this group as tree maidens. They either stand with their arms spread out, mimicking branches, or tall and sturdy, with leafy outgrowths. We find familiar devices in this bunch, Riel’s signatures if you will. For instance, the birds that populate the steel branches of From the Wreckage, A Silent Reverie sport human faces; he uses these hybrid creatures repeatedly, calling them guardians or aniwaas. The monkey, symbol of the primal and the playful, appear in two of the works: They Are Often Most Profound When They Seem Most Crazy and Traveller, Repose And Dream Among My Leaves.
NEIL ARVIN JAVIER, PACKED!
Meanwhile, the other side of the gallery hosts art of an entirely different nature, but not any less interesting. Neil Arvin Javier, street artist, punk musician, and self-published comic
book creator mounts an exhibit of his collages. I first saw Arvin’s work at the homecoming show of TUP Alumni in October 2010 at the CCP. For that show, Implosion, he submitted a large-scale collage, and since then, I’ve always been curious to see more.
Arvin creates his psychedelic pieces from found paper products: empty pizza boxes, stickers, magazines, cut out gallery catalogues. He then finishes them off with drawings or painted flourishes, either done by hand or sprayed on graffiti style. While he may work with less of Riel’s intellectual examination, his pieces are just as carefully considered. I’ve always taken a shine to well-made collages, and I find Arvin’s work, tinged as they are with an urban Pinoy edginess, quite appealing. Moreover, a conversation with him will reveal an artist genuinely committed to the lowbrow, skater lifestyle.
Astral Projections and Packed! run until 6 August 2011 at The Drawing Room, GF Metrostar Bldg, 1007 Metropolitan Avenue, Makati City. Phone (632) 897-6990 or visit http://www.drawingroomgallery.com
Thank you to Yorkie Gomez for the additional photos of Riel’s show.