Monday, July 14, 2014

Binangonan artists Henry Agor, Aldron Anchinges, Arman Jay Arago, Melanio Arago, Toti Cerda, Rodie Julian, John Perry Pellejera, John Pochollo Policarpio, Lester Rodriguez and Crispin Tuason hold “Retaso,” which is on view at Galerie Anna, fourth floor, The Artwalk, SM Megamall A, Mandaluyong City.

Heavily metaphorical is the group show’s title “Retaso,” which is the Philippine word meaning remnants of fabric. Indeed, the fabric of life, weaving through the works of these ten artists, is given literal, photographic presence in the invitation where shreds of fabric neatly form the word “Retaso.”

Symbolically, “Retaso,” the “remains of the day” of cutting reams of cloth, offers a wealth of interpretation. Each one, of course, is valid, in the sense that the interpretation has been “clothed” with a personal meaning. The Artists’ Statement declared in no uncertain terms that the works underscore the lives of many Filipinos, with both material deprivation and spiritual squalor.

Lamenting the plight of Filipino children, Arman Jay combines the poignancy of the subject and a lyrical depiction of the figures. The viewer is torn between the aesthetic pleasure of the work’s execution and poignancy at the sight of a little girl, vending rags made of retasos, under a pouring rain. The irony is seen in the frail umbrella which the child holds aloft, the cheerful colors echoing those of her retaso rags. Alas, this is a perpetual scene in the streets of Metro Manila.

In the work titled “Bubong” two children helplessly try to keep themselves dry from the downpour with a banana leaf, their hood and shelter from the storm. Another Arman Jay piece titled “Pagsilang” (Childbirth) is a portent of another street child, coming into this cruel world.

Sinister, with their ashen gray coloration are the four works of Lester Rodriguez. Using a crumpled shroud as a camouflage, the artist “embeds” – whether pictorially or ignited by one’s imagination – objects of violence, instruments any reference to murder and mayhem by condensing his works as abstraction, with all the formal qualities of line, form, color and space.

More disturbing is the work titled “The Victim,” steeped in the horror of a man’s death. He is symbolized by a white shirt entangled, trapped within a tumbleweed of barbed wire. (Mercifully, the shirt is unstained with blood, the artist leaving something for the horrified imagination).

Still more horrific, but sounding like a muffled scream is the work “Unchained Melody.” It depicts a chainsaw that has been stunned into silence, with a long chain wound round the serrated blade. Intriguingly, a bird is perched atop, chirping, as the title would imply. The bird after all is the symbol of sentinel, released in freedom.

Melanio Arago’s works are strong on symbolism. From the sunlit belfry in “Decotomy,” the woman’s hand with a light match aloft illuminating the darkness and a serpent coiled around her arm, in “Forbidden,” the dart with a drug capsule and its victim in “Human Target,” an uplifted face emerging from a wreath of dried leaves, in “Semblance” and a “convoy” of ants, with precious morsels in their mouth, while traversing along a barbed wire.

Aldron Anchinges distills the essence of a house – the concept of it – at its most pared down expression, but still allowing for the formal demands of a sculpture. A house, after all, is structurally, a piece of sculpture. Its vertically upright formation alludes to the human individual that will seek shelter within its very core.

Cris Tuazon’s “Dynasty” and “The Headlines” works use fragments of a daily newspaper as a mask to camouflage identity as well as a rather obvert form of remarking on his subjects. His works with the imagery of children, “Elesi” and “Eroplano” also use but in the form of a gas mask. The use of the mask device heightens the tension of the figures, though all are caught in attitudes of either repose, resignation or rebellion.

The works of Jan Pocholo Policarpio – “Missing You,” “The Family” and “The Late Night Show” – explore the theme of family relationship. Whether in a state of separation or togetherness, the family is viewed by the artist with a skeptical eye, presenting them in very real human situations while casting on them a visual to the family theme is “The Gossip” depicting an ice cream cone that has plopped down meltingly on the pavement.

Tote Cerda’s “Deconstructing Happiness” strips a man of his external trappings, from hat to shoes, and presents his anonymous visage, denigrated ironically with a finger–drawn Smiley. The antique appearance of the work seems to allude to a past century. Deprived of his dignity, can man still find happiness in this world?

Rodie Julian’s “Piraso” works – floral bloom, still lifes of native jars and vases, avian creatures – present an idyllic world. It is a world that is determined to turn its back on ugliness and misery.

John Perry Pellejera’s “Baluti” works conflates sculpture with choreography, narration, drama and contemporary pop culture that worships fantasy warriors and heroes. His materials are wood, metal and putty.

“Retaso” is an intensely felt meditation on the human condition, presented as a gritty denunciation of an existence discarded as torn pieces of left-over fabric. Each work is as it were, cut from the same cloth. Cid Reyes

For inquiries, please call (+632) 470 2511 / (+632) 470 9869 or email: galerie.anna@yahoo.com.

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