Friday, June 16, 2017

In the heart of Manila lies Tondo, its largest and most populous district. It has an area of 9.10 square kilometers, and an average population density of 69,297 per km², one of the highest in the world. In its periphery are Manila’s main slaughterhouse, its harbors, and communities that make their living by continuously burning driftwood to make charcoal; all of which add to its dinginess and grime. It is notorious for poverty, slums, crime, and the ever present smoke of the fires from the charcoal pits and the burning garbage, which covers the horizon in a gray-black layer of haze and soot. Noise pervades at all times of the day, staccato shouts, droning buzzes and loud honks punctuate the proverbial din of non-stop activity. It is not a pretty sight. Interestingly, this is where artist Ciron Señeres started his distinct painting style of thick black and white, a high contrast depiction of neglected nooks and crannies, broken things, and discarded material, in a still contemplation of the high drama in decay. What would have been repulsive, the artist has found rather — beautiful.

To understand Señeres’ works for Gray Horizon is to see the beauty in the struggle of common folk. If beauty is easily perceived in National Artist Fernando Amorsolo’s streams and quiet places, Señeres attempts to depict solitude amidst the city’s confusion. The tension between both provides the drama. In the thirty-six works that comprise Gray Horizon, we are given a view of the city from its streets where chaos gives way to careful composition under the artist’s watchful eye and keen sense of contrast. It is collaged into an artificial horizon which point to cross sections of the city, the city which Señeres understands.

“There is a difference between knowing and understanding,” goes the first line of a tour spiel which offers guided tours of the Bataan Shipping and Engineering Company Compound or simply BASECO, where the tourists can “experience and understand the developing slums by the bay ... stroll along alleys and see residents in their humble dwellings overcoming the challenge of protracted access to water and electricity. Delve deeper into the atrocities that these residents engage with each day and see how they manage to keep their enthusiasm for tomorrow and the uncertainties it bears.” The struggle for human dignity, despite the tremendous odds, is a drama that unfolds daily in the dingy streets of Tondo, and in all honesty, much of Manila. This is what Señeres memorializes with Gray Horizon.

For more information, contact the Visual Arts and Museum Division at (632) 832-1125 loc. 1504 / 1505 and 832-3702, mobile (0917) 603-3809, or email ccp.exhibits@gmail.com.

You Might Also Like