2 Filipina Artists Encapsulates Persistence and Resourcefulness

November 3, 2021



Daniel Lampa

Maria Taniguchi’s “room of phases

Maria Taniguchi was born in Dumaguete City in 1981. After completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture degree at the University of the Philippines in 2007, she completed an MFA in Art Practice at Goldsmiths in London in 2009. In 2011, Maria received the Ateneo Art Award for her solo exhibition Echo Studies. She showed the first of several large-scale ‘brick’ paintings, a video installation, drawings, and photographic work. She received the Ateneo Art Award the following year for the video Untitled (Celestial Motors), shown at Silverlens Gallery. In 2015 she won the Hugo Boss Asia Art Award for Emerging Asian Artists in Shanghai.

Photos courtesy of Silverlens Galleries

Maria’s works circumscribe painting, sculpture, video, and installation. Her works investigate space and time along with social and historical contexts, including the social-political and economic situations of the Philippines. Her celebrated brick paintings called “Untitled” is an ongoing series she started in 2008. These works play out dimensions of time and labor in the artistic process. She has noted that she views these paintings more as objects in space rather than as images and that the brick paintings belong to a single larger entity that has been broken down into pieces. While the work’s clarity in form could be thought of as something related to minimalism, the bricks also represent a historical meaning of industrial civilization.

Photos courtesy of Silverlens Galleries

For her current show in Silverlens called “Room of Phases,” she presents a series of square canvases painted checkered. A portion stripped of paint or a part wherein color does not take may represent the disengaging from the illusion of symmetry or the body reaching its limit—the checkered pattern on the works forefronts expectation and regularity. 

“room of phases” is on view until November 13, 2021, at Silverlens 2263 Don Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati City.

Each stunning work is created using a silkscreen, using a thin layer of paint. Labor and resource in these works persistently insist themselves in the attempts at repetition. The amount of pigment, pressure exerted, the number of attempts are the factors that determine the repetitive gestures in each canvas. The process appears as ambient, interior architecture. Within this framework, in developing a set of paintings that comprise a singular work, the artist expresses a method of engaging with space.

As noted by Carlos Quijon Jr, “Within such a limited repertoire, the artist has created a room that invites the most attentive of encounters. Taniguchi’s practice is built on these fixations—these painstakingly careful considerations that allow the material, gesture, disposition to craft a method to abstraction that is conceptual as it is effective.”

Marionne Contreras’ “Cockatoos, Scabs, and other Tchotchkes

Mixed media artist Marionne Contreras whose work dissects the minutiae of perception and the imperfection of observation through a play between the visual and the tactual, was born in 1992. She has a background in Dental Medicine and fashion design but is now an artist full-time. A defining moment of the self-taught artist was her one-person exhibition in the Cultural Center of the Philippines called “A Collection Of Bruises, Curses, Baby Teeth” in 2018.

She works with a diverse range of materials such as fiberglass installations, textile-based soft sculptures, drawings, neon signage, acrylic paintings on wood, and mixed media assemblages. As of late, she has been presenting a lot of yarn and fabric-based works. The essence of which is often of memory, intimacy, femininity, synthesis between fiction and reality. Her focus on textile-based works as a result of having her first child. She veered away temporarily to pieces that needed the use of toxic materials such as fiberglass, epoxy, and silicone. She says, “I decided then to focus on textile-based works and soft sculptures, but I didn’t give up on the plaster and concrete purely for self-satisfaction, as I always opt for different textures.” 

Marionne’s show at Vinyl on Vinyl Gallery, called “Cockatoos, Scabs, and other Tchotchkes”, presents an evocative, at the same time playful come back to the idea that the structural foundation of art is beauty. The works on view are guided by the reality of suffering and sadness in one’s life but should be made beautiful.

Her captivating works “Sick Man in Jinguashi” and “A romanticization of an hour-long motorcycle ride (are we there yet?)”, both embroidered landscapes that appear in a window-like vantage explore the search for beauty in nature. This allows the audience to dwell on the idea of a breathtaking place without a promise of actually being there.

A key piece in this exhibit is a 72 inch stunning, embroidered work called “River in the backyard (or how to will bridges gone).” Another highlight of the show is a tapestry of a Cockatoo that shows beauty by turning towards nature. The very detailed “Galah (poster-bird of hello ugly how are you)” is augmented by embroidered photographs of other birds and nest sculptures that resemble a sense of a crucial relief sought after by an animal from its shelter.

Her “Scab” series made of Yarn, primary carpet fabric, and wood echoes an endless “scab state” people are currently faced with — a period between having a wound and healing from it.

Marz Alglipay states, “Contreras acknowledges the context of her work being borne out of the lockdown. In this line of thinking, making beautiful things can’t always be a refuge. Cockatoos, Scabs, and other Tchotchkes open up their viewers to sentiments on beauty as a salve to what we have no control over. It makes for a worthwhile occasion of conversance, as living can be the shortest most difficult task one can do, but it can be done with grace.”

“Cockatoos, Scabs, and other Tchotchkes”
 is on view now at Vinyl on Vinyl Gallery, La Fuerza Compound, Chino Roces Avenue Makati.

Notes about the Contributor

Daniel Lampa

Art enthusiast and into Fashion, French Culture, Mid-century modern design and spends a lot of his time curating his home in Manila and LA. He lives with his 3 dogs, Coco, Yohji, and Junya.

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