Art by Is Jumalon and Jel Suarez: Empowering Expression

November 21, 2021



Daniel Lampa

Two of the rising, talented young artists today are currently featured in two different art exhibitions in the metro. Is Jumalon and Jel Suarez offer a refreshing perspective on mundane objects and human interactions that make up our daily existence.

An afternoon in viewing gallery is a great way to experience art outside of a screen. It is also an incredible opportunity for students to learn and understand art better by seeing the art piece up close and personal. The works of Is Jumalon and Jel Suarez on display are featuring subjects that are of high relevance and meaning for the current times we live in.

“The Self-same Power That Brought Me Here Brought You” 
Art Exhibit by Is Jumalon

Is Jumalon is the youngest member of the Jumalon family of artists from Zamboanga. She is a Fine Arts graduate of the University of The Philippines and has been based in Manila since 2012. In 2016, Is’ love for drawing was reawakened. Currently, her conspicuous charcoal and soft pastel drawings have always been a favorite of local collectors.

For her “The Self-same Power That Brought Me Here Brought You” show, she explores human perceptions and how it doesn’t only create our experience of the world around us; it allows us to act within our environment. She comments, “I had several concepts before finalizing on this one. I had a hard time organizing my thoughts during production. Given the effect of the pandemic and the rising number of people dying, It had an immense impact on me. So it took time.”

An encounter with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem, The Rhodora, instituted the exhibit’s visual narrative. She cognized that It is all about perceiving. If someone doesn’t perceive, there is no thought, no art. The same goes that If something or someone doesn’t have a perceiver, that person doesn’t exist. She says, “Everything exists because man thinks, man perceives. We are even. The power that brought you and the world you perceive, that’s consciousness. One is meaningless without the other.”

Taco Borja notes, “Is Jumalon did not lead herself into the wilderness to find the rhodora, the same way that it did not bring itself there. She has traveled this far, yet this flower isn’t there for anyone; it isn’t there for her, for she is only there to see. And in seeing this rhodora, she will continue to rake back the block of medium with bare hands. She will continue to mow the strokes that have overgrown. She will continue to plant contours on barren ground. She will continue to reap as vehemently as she will be allowed. She will continue—”

“The Self-same Power That Brought Me Here Brought You” is currently on view until December 1, 2021, at Blanc Gallery, 145 Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City.


“arrivals, retrievals” 
Art Exhibit by Jel Suarez

Jel Suarez was initially a psychology graduate specializing in Special Education. The self-taught artist has been exhibiting her works since 2014. She’s had solo shows at notable galleries such as West Gallery, Mo Space, Underground Gallery, Vinyl on Vinyl, and Ateneo Art Gallery. She has also participated in group shows and Art Fairs locally and overseas in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. Her solo exhibitions with West Gallery in 2018, 2020, and MO_Space Gallery 2019 were shortlisted for the Ateneo Art Awards, where she became the first recipient of its Italian Embassy’s Purchase Prize.

The artist’s masterpieces are mostly a play on collage and assemblage, says that her strength is in how she perceives and transforms things since she doesn’t know how to draw and paint. She says that collage as a process reflects her sensitivities and understanding.

The artist’s masterpieces are mostly a play on collage and assemblage, says that her strength is in how she perceives and transforms things since she doesn’t know how to draw and paint. She says that collage as a process reflects her sensitivities and understanding.

For her much-anticipated solo exhibit at The Drawing Room called “arrivals, retrievals,” Jel presents collage works and assemblages that are meditative yet guided by spontaneity. She notes, “Recently, I wanted to let my surrounding energy balance my flow and intention in creating my collages and as it evolves into three-dimensional works.”

The exhibition notes in letter form was written by Iris Ferrer, an Amsterdam-based Filipino cultural practitioner and the artist’s good friend. The show’s title, “arrivals, retrievals,” was formed after reading Iris’ “letter” in response to the works. The assemblages for the show remind Jel of these small snug places for play/storage of personal items and then these pigeon holes/ compartments for mail. She comments, “The words arrival and retrieval reflect the spaces I make for things.”

It took almost a year to put together the materials used for the exhibition. Jel says, “The production was done in phases through this period since I had to send some of them earlier to Manila. Living outside the city will make you consider a lot of extra things when working on a show: days allotted for packing, shipping, framing the works, creating diagrams, instructions, among others. It taught me to manage my schedule more efficiently.”

Jel Suarez can explore history through her works and the objects she cumulates and re-arranges. She considers this as a form of creative inquiry. The impassioned hold in the details of these gathered objects and the patterns, shapes, and diverse textures inspire her to create these meaningful and astounding works of art.

“arrivals, retrievals” is on view until December 11, 2021, at Drawing Room Manila, Building C, Karrivin Plaza, Makati.

When you are in town, don’t miss out on visiting these featured art galleries. Not only will this be worthwhile for art enthusiasts and aspirants, it will also show support and appreciation to our local artists like Is Jumalon and Jel Suarez.

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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