In Review: Five Art Exhibits Highlighting May’s Unique Offerings

June 6, 2024

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By 

Elle Yap

In recent weeks, BluPrint published its continued coverage on some of the happenings in the local art scene. Art exhibits daring in its approach and its ideas sprouted up across the country, battling the summer heat with its own version of passionate fervor. 

With May coming to an end, here are some highlights we wanted to share with our readers as we prepare for the next month of offerings from our local artists. 

Running Backwards into the Future

Curated by James Clar and shown at Modeka Art, this assemblage of great Filipino artists expresses snapshots of our local art scene and its continued evolution. It pushes back against Westernized ideas of what art can be, and gives us local artists that shoves against hierarchies and colonialism.

Standout artworks like Angel Velasco Shaw’s “1985” or Judy Freya Sibayan’s “Lemon Cake” take audiences to a journey of identity and definition. Works like Bernie Pacquing’s violin sculptures or Isabel Aquilizan’s “Sunog na Kanin” and other works featured here blur the lines between archiving and artwork. 

A photograph during the original "Untitled (Lemon Cake)" work, shown for "Running Backwards Into the Future." Photo by Elle Yap.
A photograph during the original “Untitled (Lemon Cake)” work, shown for “Running Backwards Into the Future.” Photo by Elle Yap.
A photograph during the original "Untitled (Lemon Cake)" work, shown for "Running Backwards Into the Future." Photo by Elle Yap.
A photograph during the original “Untitled (Lemon Cake)” work, shown for “Running Backwards Into the Future.” Photo by Elle Yap.
"Pact" by Gus Albor for "Running Backwards Into the Future." Photo by Elle Yap.
“Pact” by Gus Albor for “Running Backwards Into the Future.” Photo by Elle Yap.
Works by Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan. Photo by Elle Yap.
Works by Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan. Photo by Elle Yap.
A still from Angel Velasco Shaw's movie "Balikbayan." Photo by Elle Yap.
A still from Angel Velasco Shaw’s movie “Balikbayan.” Photo by Elle Yap.
"J.S. Bach's Double Violin Concerto" by Bernie Pacquing. Photo by Elle Yap.
“J.S. Bach’s Double Violin Concerto” by Bernie Pacquing. Photo by Elle Yap.

Or is there really that much of a difference between archiving and art? In its own way, isn’t art as much a way of preserving our lived realities and emotions in that specific period when the work is created? Running Backwards Into the Future brings those questions in the forefront for us to ruminate on. 

Read more on our coverage here

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Artist Josephine Turalba’s recent exhibition in Salcedo Auctions sews a tale of post-colonial existence for the Filipino through her own personal experiences. 

The work, made of colorful leather pieces sewn together to create a giant tapestry, brings us to Turalba’s travels from the Philippines to the United States and Turkey. And in that journey, she links together these seemingly-disparate cultures into one comfortable whole. 

"Analysis Paralysis" by Josephine Turalba. Photo by Elle Yap.
“Analysis Paralysis” by Josephine Turalba. Photo by Elle Yap.
"Rooftops of Contemplation" by Josephine Turalba. Photo by Elle Yap.
“Rooftops of Contemplation” by Josephine Turalba. Photo by Elle Yap.
"What You See and Don't Want to See" by Josephine Turalba. Photo by Elle Yap.
“What You See and Don’t Want to See” by Josephine Turalba. Photo by Elle Yap.
"Mr. ShotQuic" by Josephine Turalba. Photo by Elle Yap.
“Mr. ShotQuic” by Josephine Turalba. Photo by Elle Yap.
"Mang Nick's Dirty Cream" by Josephine Turalba. Photo by Elle Yap.
“Mang Nick’s Dirty Cream” by Josephine Turalba. Photo by Elle Yap.

She finds the common thread between the brownstones of Boston to the crowded streets of Manila, our churches and the mosques in Turkey, our own societal problems with the problems of other countries. It blends them together and tells the story of our common human connection even in other countries—that despite the differences in culture, we might not be as different as we thought we were. 

Read our interview with Turalba regarding the work.. 

Violent Camote

Roxlee’s exhibit in Gravity Art Space strikes a balance between the strange and the humorous. Paintings of humanity bordering on the cartoony, evocative in their emotions, give a sense of the independent filmmaker’s subversive streak even as he battles with meaning within a society. 

In a recent talk about the exhibit, the artist admitted that much of the works came about due to boredom during the pandemic. In a way, that makes a lot of sense because which of us haven’t done the odd project or so while we were stuck in our homes?

Paintings in Roxlee's "Violent Camote" exhibit at Gravity Art Space. Photo by Elle Yap.
Paintings in Roxlee’s “Violent Camote” exhibit at Gravity Art Space. Photo by Elle Yap.
A portion of "Violent Camote" at Gravity Art Space. Photo by Elle Yap.
A portion of “Violent Camote” at Gravity Art Space. Photo by Elle Yap.
A painting by Roxlee of two figures in a forested red backdrop. Photo by Elle Yap.
A painting by Roxlee of two figures in a forested red backdrop. Photo by Elle Yap.
Orange painting by Roxlee for "Violent Camote." Photo by Elle Yap.
Orange painting by Roxlee for “Violent Camote.” Photo by Elle Yap.
A painting by Roxlee for "Violent Camote." Photo by Elle Yap.
A painting by Roxlee for “Violent Camote.” Photo by Elle Yap.

And yet, it also exemplifies the freedom that exists in his work. In a career of advocating for independent local art, he has pushed for Filipino artists to explore strangeness instead of marketability. And what better way to delve into the strange than the kind of subversive sexual humor that borders on obscene? 

Check out our coverage of the exhibit.

I ought to nail down the sky, it keeps getting away from me

Displayed in Vinyl on Vinyl, Koki Lxx’s work continues to elude easy definition. It comments on imperialism and colonization, and it works as a pretty showcase of scattered, colorful lights across a spectrum. How does it define the fleeting nature of beauty? And how strongly does it connect to the evils of imperialist powers within our country? 

Reflections from the light. Photo by Elle Yap.
Reflections from the light. Photo by Elle Yap.
One of the light installations for Koki Lxx's exhibit. Photo by Elle Yap.
One of the light installations for Koki Lxx’s exhibit. Photo by Elle Yap.
A light installation with a blue hue. Photo by Elle Yap.
A light installation with a blue hue. Photo by Elle Yap.
The light reflections combined with the artist's sketch in the middle. Photo by Elle Yap.
The light reflections combined with the artist’s sketch in the middle. Photo by Elle Yap.

The work festers on in your mind quietly. The images’ vagueness works to its advantage as it creates in us a meaning reflected in the living conditions of our world today. It shows that, as fragile as beauty is, it’s also one that sticks with you as you seek understanding for what you don’t know. 

Read here for further discussion

Piña, Why is the Sky Blue?

Stephanie Comilang and Simon Speiser’s exhibit at Silverlens Manila portray the effects of capitalism and colonialism in our world, and suggests the further progression of society from these terrible pasts through the use of technology. 

Stephanie Comilang and Simon Speiser, Piña, Why is the Sky Blue? (video still), 2021. Courtesy of the artist and SILVERLENS.
Stephanie Comilang and Simon Speiser, Piña, Why is the Sky Blue? (video still), 2021. Courtesy of the artist and SILVERLENS.
The pineapple from the documentary of "Piña, Why is the Sky Blue?." Photo by Elle Yap.
The pineapple from the documentary of “Piña, Why is the Sky Blue?.” Photo by Elle Yap.
Three of the 3D-printed weavings for "Piña, Why is the Sky Blue?". Photo by Elle Yap.
Three of the 3D-printed weavings for “Piña, Why is the Sky Blue?”. Photo by Elle Yap.
A person watching the exhibit. Courtesy of SILVERLENS.
A person watching the exhibit. Courtesy of SILVERLENS.
A woman using VR technology. Courtesy of SILVERLENS.
A woman using VR technology. Courtesy of SILVERLENS.

It’s an incitement, in other words, against the idea of culture as a stagnant thing. More than anything, Piña, Why is the Sky Blue? portrays indigenous and traditional cultures as alive, not something stuck in museums gathering dust. The artists believe that the progress of technology doesn’t mean the death of one’s way of life. 

Rather, the exhibit encourages us to adapt to the times and find the ways one can reconcile the old and the modern together. Life coexists together, and with how tech has evolved, nothing is truly dead and nothing is truly extinct. 

Read our coverage here, and this article, which discusses the tech aspect of the exhibit further.

Pushing Art Forward

These highlights only give a small glimpse of the diversity of art exhibits in the country. But they do give an idea of the discussions happening within the community. As we battle through pursuing a selfhood away from our colonial past—a selfhood we can call our own—it leads to great, thoughtful works that balances the societal discourse with our personal struggles. 

Two onlookers in front of Pete Jimenez's exhibit. Photo by Elle Yap.

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