Resurrect, Jethro Jocson’s newest exhibit, is on display at Alliance Française de Manille from July 4 to 24. Jocson’s works portray strange, illusionary ideas in stark backgrounds. Many of the paintings depict these fairy tale-like characters in hazy worlds, staring curiously at gigantic origami shapes like paper boats and airplanes looming in the distance. 

A painting by Jethro Jocson for "Resurrect." Photo by Elle Yap.
A painting by Jethro Jocson for “Resurrect.” Photo by Elle Yap.

“Subjects are constructed through the lens of vibrant colors, textured spaces and origami-esque forms alongside some medieval characters that make their appearances throughout the fairytale stories we grew up with,” the exhibit write-up said. 

Existing Towards Wonder

Resurrect utilizes what Jocson calls a “minimalist-surrealist pattern.” Some of the paintings surround its figures with a multicolored aura made with watercolor. Most of the paintings, however, have a smokey, dreamlike texture around them, done with acrylic paint and dominated by a singular color. 

Three paintings shown in "Resurrect." Photo by Elle Yap.
Three paintings shown in “Resurrect.” Photo by Elle Yap.
Three paintings shown in "Resurrect." Photo by Elle Yap.
Three paintings shown in “Resurrect.” Photo by Elle Yap.
Seven paintings by Jethro Jocson. Photo by Elle Yap.
Seven paintings by Jethro Jocson. Photo by Elle Yap.

The stylistic influence that Jocson employs creates a simplified, dreamlike environment that focuses on the subjects rather than the surroundings. 

Two paintings by Jethro Jocson. Photo by Elle Yap.
Two paintings by Jethro Jocson. Photo by Elle Yap.
A painting with a cat, mouse, and guillotine. Photo by Elle Yap.
A painting with a cat, mouse, and guillotine. Photo by Elle Yap.
A painting with a knight and a piggy bank by Jethro Jocson. Photo by Elle Yap.
A painting with a knight and a piggy bank by Jethro Jocson. Photo by Elle Yap.
One of the paintings for Jethro Jocson's "Resurrect." Photo by Elle Yap.
One of the paintings for Jethro Jocson’s “Resurrect.” Photo by Elle Yap.

“I don’t work on a maximalist approach and composition. [My approach is] used to simplifying forms, subjects, symbols. I used to simplify it to create more mind-bending solutions to your experience,” he said. 

Different characters populate Jocson’s paintings, which he calls “fairy tale” characters. Knights and nuns, birds and cats, skulls and plague doctors inhabit the surreal world he creates and tether us to the familiarity of our childhood. 

A skull and a plague doctor with a camera. Photo by Elle Yap.
A skull and a plague doctor with a camera. Photo by Elle Yap.
A French knight. Photo by Elle Yap.
A French knight. Photo by Elle Yap.
A nun and a turtle in one of the paintings in "Resurrect." Photo by Elle Yap.
A nun and a turtle in one of the paintings in “Resurrect.” Photo by Elle Yap.

“[How] would I express the world of every moment that people [exist] in our contemporary reality? [By going] back to that childlike images, subjects, and symbols, to create freedom to express something that would create solutions to the problem of our cultural ways,” Jocson said. 

Crafting a Personal Metamorphosis

The importance of childhood in defining the self is a key observation in these works. It revolves around characters growing up and bravely facing their problems, as if to suggest that bridging the gap between adulthood and childhood allows us the freedom to explore ourselves in the present day.

Two repeating motifs appear in the paintings: origami figurines like paper airplanes or boats, and balloons. Both symbolize flight and freedom, and the paper airplanes represent the need to be able to go with the flow in life, just like a paper airplane whooshes around in any direction. 

A paper boat made by the artist. Photo by Elle Yap.
A paper boat made by the artist. Photo by Elle Yap.

Resurrect is all about that. The metamorphosis of us being human, of how we exist in this world, and how we capture those moments. [This is] now [what] I am sharing, those visual images of being [a] child and on a whimsical pattern,” he said. 

Finding Freedom in Childhood

Jocson even demonstrated this with a performance during the exhibit opening. He utilized tape to create an outline of a paper plane on the floor, before giving the audience paper planes to let loose around the exhibit space—all to the sound of jazz music in the background.

The artist crafting an airplane with tape. Photo by Elle Yap.
The artist crafting an airplane with tape. Photo by Elle Yap.
For the performance art, Jethro Jocson gives away paper airplanes. Photo by Elle Yap.
For the performance art, Jethro Jocson gives away paper airplanes. Photo by Elle Yap.
The artist throwing a paper airplane. Photo by Elle Yap.
The artist throwing a paper airplane. Photo by Elle Yap.

Jethro Jocson’s Resurrect imparts an always timely lesson to remember and cultivate love for the inner child. It is, more than anything, a reminder that the brave characters of our past need not be stuck in our subconscious; that they can help guide us in our journey today to find meaning in how we live our lives.

Related reading: Jomike Tejido’s ‘Manifesto of Play’ Taps into the Inner Child

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