Brisa Amir explores the quiet resilience of foliage in collages

January 11, 2022



Daniel Lampa

Ateneo Awards 2021 Awardee for Embassy of Italy Purchase Prize Brisa Amir has again outdone herself with her recently concluded show at Artinformal Makati. The collection of collages, titled “As the blade softens, the fern yields,” was one of the exhibits that graced the reopening of Artinformal Makati last December 9th.

For this show, Brisa made use of collages, fabrics, embroidery, and repurposed old works to depict the flourishing of plants against urban spaces and elements. As the title suggests, plant-like curves and shapes interject the jagged forms and cuts of an inorganic environment.

Brisa finished a BFA in Painting degree from the University of the Philippines. She had her first solo exhibition at Artinformal back in 2018 and has since participated in group and solo shows. In 2019, she held a one-woman show in the first S.E.A. Focus in Gillman Barracks, Singapore.

Brisa, who paints through textures inspired by her milieu and explores informal ways of printing in her Manila studio, never halted producing remarkable art even during the pandemic. Even in the country’s many lockdowns, she has made it a habit to keep working.

“I started making small collages cut from old paintings. And while doing it, ideas kept flowing, especially when I worked with embroidery using textile and thread,” she comments. “By the end of each month, I had a grasp of what I wanted to do, especially how I want it to be presented”. For her, the deadlines set were just markers of the inspirational works she has finished in her studio. She also considers each piece or show as a preparation for the next idea or concept.

Brisa documents her daily activities in her immersive walks. So, it wasn’t surprising that the movement of invasive plants in the urban landscape caught her attention. She was also able to identify the foliage using a mobile app.

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“Eventually, while I took photographs and observed them, I was intrigued with the concrete structures, mainly the gate designs where the plants hold on and cling. And then I thought about the laborers who built those gates and the houses where the people live. I thought about the neighborhood and its empty lots and stagnant spaces eventually gentrified into commercial businesses. I thought about my friends and family living in this community we built similar to a self-sustaining garden, conducive to self-growth and healing. I was thinking about people who left the earth, the continuous and ever-changing landscape, and the people who continue living and surviving.”

The artist remarks that she doesn’t treat her works as her paintings. Rather, she sees them as paintings of her environment by her environment. After finishing her beautiful works of various textures and shapes, she made sound magic. At the gallery’s video room is a 3:33 minute video piece she produced in collaboration with sound artist and filmmaker Jose Olarte.

“Our partnership is guided by a technique of creating a sonic sigil: aural symbols, representations of desire — tools to obtain the desired effect magically. It started with my voice scribbles; then, I let Jose charge it with sonic frequencies that could generate music that could serve as space for a person to release tension, minimize overthinking and anxiety (432 hertz). To complete the composition, I scanned bits and pieces from my series of plant collages, it was almost like dust from my large paintings, but the landscape that emerged from the texture was vivid. It almost feels like the cosmic unknown. I appreciate the experiment that Jose and I created. It feels magical that we released the work with love and laughter.”

The gates that she saw in her surroundings served as a keystone for her successful show. She found that the word “blade” and the meanings associated with it have a similarity with gate designs. Also, she noted that both can be used for protection and harm.

“In my pieces, I intended to reshape these gate designs into portals of spaces, like a patch of forest where people can tune in to a world where blades become flowers and vines climb towers. Resistance is the power to affirm your existence, like an act of remembering your eternal self; thus, As the blade softens, the fern yields.”

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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