Miguel Lorenzo Uy’s Black Paintings, currently on display at Gravity Art Space until April 27, evokes the memories of our recent lived experiences. It portrays the sense of anxiety evoked by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the helplessness it left in many of us. 

Uy was inspired to create this project by an online art exhibit on Instagram during the pandemic, after which he started to explore the possibilities of the medium even further.

“During that time while everything outside was viewed through a screen and the overall mood of the moment seemed dark and miserable,” Uy said. “I wanted to explore the idea of how we see and perceive black on screen and black in reality, like how this faint wash of light is sensed in our eyes.”

A painting of a typhoon cloud. Photo by Elle Yap.
A painting of a typhoon cloud. Photo by Elle Yap.

Dreamlike Darkness

Uy’s exhibit consists of two different projects. One features multiple acrylic on canvas paintings that use the “blackest black” available on the market right now. These paintings utilize two types of black paint to create images within the darkness. It accentuates the contrast without removing the darkness of the art surrounding it. 

He uses the black paints to create landscapes of the world around us. He depicts different natural phenoma, from what appears to be ocean waves to birds in flight. One painting is of a typhoon cloud from weather maps. It uses the chaotic danger of storms—its largeness and scope and power. Without having to show the people themselves in danger, the painting invokes the fearsome power of storms. 

Two of the "Black Paintings" in the exhibit. Photo by Elle Yap.
Two of the “Black Paintings” in the exhibit. Photo by Elle Yap.
A painting of ocean waves. Photo by Elle Yap.
A painting of ocean waves. Photo by Elle Yap.
Two small portraits of stars. Photo by Elle Yap.
Two small portraits of stars. Photo by Elle Yap.
What appears to be palm leaves in a dark background. Photo by Elle Yap.
What appears to be palm leaves in a dark background. Photo by Elle Yap.

Another work portrays a gorilla hiding within what appears to be a forested area. This one is especially provocative because you can see the gorilla’s features so clearly even in the low visibility the blackness gives. It almost looks like day-for-night footage. That visibility adds a certain sort of sadness to see this realistic-looking gorilla hugging itself in a corner.

A painting of a gorilla in the jungle. Photo by Elle Yap.
A painting of a gorilla in the jungle. Photo by Elle Yap.

Anxiety in the Pandemic

For the actual exhibit, an interesting addition is a one-minute short that loops itself as you enter the exhibit. It depicts some of the works in a hyper-stylized way, changing and shifting as it mutates the images into something unreal. 

“The scenes are of a momentary dream of a soft, cosmic hum,” the artist explains. “Within the sequence, a plane of light sears the eyes, as if images are etched on the sight of the dreamer. Outside this boundary, a faint cosmos twinkles throughout the background of the shadows.”

A digital rendition of a boat at sea. Photo by Elle Yap.
A digital rendition of a boat at sea. Photo by Elle Yap.
A digital rendition of a gorilla. Photo by Elle Yap.
A digital rendition of a gorilla. Photo by Elle Yap.
A digital rendition of a storm, next to two of the "Black Paintings." Photo by Elle Yap.
A digital rendition of a storm, next to two of the “Black Paintings.” Photo by Elle Yap.

It certainly uses the images to summon a sense of unreality to its audience. At times, it feels like a shapeshifter unable to stabilize, falling into the uncanny valley to the viewers. And while the black paintings create anxiety through the contrasts of darkness, the video uses quick-changing iterations of one image sliding together. The work makes us question within ourselves both what we consider real and what we trust from the world. 

As the world barrels forward into an uncertain future of misinformation, questions of what we should trust and how much we should trust something become more important to ponder. Miguel Lorenzo Uy’s Black Paintings echoes the strange gloominess of the times. More important, it asks how we can still find images of life in the darkness of its world. 

Related reading: ‘The Greatness of Simplicity’: Finding Peace in the Pandemic

The Aruma Split Garden from afar. Photo by Mario Wibowo.

Aruma Split Garden: A Dining Space Designed for Open-Air Enjoyment 

The Aruma Split Garden emerges as a stunning example of how innovative design can maximize space and integrate nature. Architectural firm RAD+ar masterfully created a harmonious blend of modern architecture and lush greenery, making it an oasis in a bustling urban environment. Located in Jakarta, Indonesia, the architects explored how split-level design can create distinct […]

How to Use Activated Charcoal for a Fresher Home.

How to Use Activated Charcoal for a Fresher Home

Activated charcoal isn’t just an ingredient in medicines and beauty products; it’s a versatile powerhouse for your home as well. It purifies the air, eliminates odors, and even extends the life of your produce—all with a natural, eco-friendly solution. From detoxifying your living space to enhancing your daily routines, here’s how activated charcoal can create […]

The Sendagaya Community Center exterior. Photo by Kawasumi-Kobayashi Kenji Photograph Office.

Sendagaya Community Center: A Unique Communal Facility for Locals

Community centers provide essential spaces for people to gather and connect. The Sendagaya Community Center, located in the densely populated district of Jingumae in Shibuya, Tokyo, offers a unique and welcoming environment for local residents. Kengo Kuma & Associates, with support from P. T. Morimura & Associates and Ejiri Structural Engineers, designed the building to […]

BluPrint Volume 1: The Next Big Thing.

BluPrint Volume 1: The Next Big Thing

As BluPrint Magazine comes back to print, we celebrate the cutting-edge fusion of design and technology that is shaping the future of architecture and interior design. The first issue explores “The Next Big Thing,” looking at how designers push boundaries with new technologies. We highlight the innovators and visionaries redefining what is possible in the […]

Contours of Innovation: Ding Asuncion and Isabel Berenguer-Asuncion’s Architectural Odyssey

In the ever-evolving architectural landscape of the Philippines, Asuncion Berenguer Inc. (ABI) emerges as a trailblazer, seamlessly merging global sophistication with local heritage. At the heart of this dynamic firm are its principal designers, Ding Asuncion and Isabel Berenguer-Asuncion. Their remarkable journey from the vibrant streets of Hong Kong to the culturally rich cities of […]

5 Unexpected Bedroom Items You Should Never Throw Out.

5 Unexpected Bedroom Items You Should Never Throw Out

Decluttering is a cornerstone of creating a clean and organized space. However, some people can take it too far, discarding even useful items in their quest for an empty room. This is especially true in bedrooms, which we all strive to be havens of comfort and relaxation. But keeping a few unexpected essentials can actually […]

Download this month's BLUPRINT magazine digital copy from:
Subscribe via [email protected]