This New Pardo de León Exhibit Shows Humorous, Emotional Spectacles

May 15, 2024

|

By 

Elle Yap

The Crack, the Gap, the Alleyway, the new exhibit at MO_Space, combines new and previously unreleased works of artist Pardo de León and finds the thematic connections she maintained throughout her artistic career.

Pardo de León’s Blue Girl series. Photo by Elle Yap.
Pardo de León’s Blue Girl series. Photo by Elle Yap.

The background of some of the artworks are exciting, with Jet Melencio’s write-up covering the interesting history of how one of the paintings, “Stitched Frog,” ended up not being shown in its 1989 exhibition in Riga due to the Armenian earthquake. The other painting of note, “Angel & Taxicab,” did not get exhibited due to the First EDSA Revolution. 

Cherubian Faces Skewed

The Crack, the Gap, the Alleyway demonstrates Pardo de León’s interest in finding ways to flip old-fashioned angelic faces into strange contexts that finds the humor and emotions within what seems like “perfect” faces. Melencio describes the looks of the women in the paintings as “Caravaggio head,” but de León puts her paintings in stranger situations than Caravaggio ended up doing. 

“Stitched Frog” and “Angel & Taxicab” exemplifies these qualities well. The first painting has a person in a state of shock as a frog seems to stand on their head. It’s a close-up face of disgust and surprise, as if the person doesn’t know how to react to the situation. The face being mostly covered by this arrogant-looking frog gives it an even more absurdist edge overall. 

"Stitched Frog" by Pardo de Leon. Photo by Elle Yap.
“Stitched Frog” by Pardo de Leon. Photo by Elle Yap.

“Angel & Taxicab,” meanwhile, shows a person’s resigned look as they appear to be hit by a taxicab. It’s much less absurd than the previous painting, as de León captures the befuddlement of the person getting hit. Still, there’s a hint of deadpan humor to it, a Wes Anderson-esque understatement of emotion to what appears to be a painful event happening to the person.

"Angel & Taxicab" by Pardo de Leon. Photo by Elle Yap.
“Angel & Taxicab” by Pardo de Leon. Photo by Elle Yap.

The newer paintings also contain absurdist touches that feel like Pardo de León deliberately subverts the ideals of beauty by presenting them in incomplete or skewed perspectives. 

"Black Coat" by Pardo de Leon. Photo by Elle Yap.
“Black Coat” by Pardo de Leon. Photo by Elle Yap.

“Black Coat,” for example, are two paintings of a smirking woman’s profile from the mouth down, except that, as exhibited, the two paintings are put on top of each other to create mirror images. It’s very deconstructive, and put together, creates a distinct, idiosyncratic view of beauty as a whole. 

Abstracting Emotions

Other paintings in the collection have an abstract, mathematical methodology towards their approach. They don’t have faces, and yet they seem to be a delicately-painted, kaleidoscopic deconstruction of the paintings they come from. Looking at them feels like Pardo de León put her paintings through a funhouse mirror and painted the results. 

“Black Coat Series 1-3” and “From the Blue Girl Series 1-3” uses elements from their respective parent paintings and puts them in boxes, deriving new patterns from the differing motifs of the paintings. “From the Blue Girl Series” kind of looks like church tiles from a certain perspective, while the “Black Coat Series” paintings mimic the look of sand put in boxes at certain patterns. 

Details for "Black Coat Series" as shown in "The Crack, the Gap, the Alleyway. Photo by Elle Yap.
Details for “Black Coat Series” as shown in “The Crack, the Gap, the Alleyway. Photo by Elle Yap.
Details for "Black Coat Series" as shown in "The Crack, the Gap, the Alleyway. Photo by Elle Yap.
Details for “Black Coat Series” as shown in “The Crack, the Gap, the Alleyway. Photo by Elle Yap.
Close-up look for "From the Blue Girl Series" as shown in "The Crack, the Gap, the Alleyway." Photo by Elle Yap.
Close-up look for “From the Blue Girl Series” as shown in “The Crack, the Gap, the Alleyway.” Photo by Elle Yap.

“In harmony, she integrates floor patterns that structurally mimic the women in both composition and palette—a fugue faintly echoed in the pixellations of these ancient mosaics,” Melencio said of these paintings. 

Close-up of the face from "Angel & Taxicab." Photo by Elle Yap.
Close-up of the face from “Angel & Taxicab.” Photo by Elle Yap.

The Crack, the Gap, the Alleyway has a deliberate aesthetic to the works featured that subverts the expectations and standards of artworks not just in the artist’s past but in art’s past as a whole. One can derive a whole lot of humorous pleasure from the playful yet calculated choices that Pardo de León utilizes, and this exhibit showcases these motifs and themes well.

Related reading: Contemporary Arts in the Philippines: An Introduction

LED Light Bulbs and Everything You Need to Know About Them

Ever wonder how lighting can transform your home’s interior?  It’s more than just positioning light fixtures (though that’s important too!). Unlike color psychology, the effects of lighting are surprisingly versatile and impactful. And the real reason is actually just hiding in plain sight—LED light bulbs. But it’s not like you have to go through the […]

Galley Kitchens: Making the Most of Every Inch.

Galley Kitchens: Making the Most of Every Inch

Are you tight on space but want to showcase your cooking creativity? Living in a smaller home doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your culinary dreams. If you have a galley kitchen, we got some space hacks to maximize functionality without sacrificing an inch of style.  The Galley and its Backstory The galley kitchen originated in […]

Half Half House: A Fusion of Old and New in Urban Living

Conceived by Dua Studio, the Half Half House is a renovation project that equally distributes old and new forms. It’s a balancing act of preservation, transformation, and addition that makes this home stand out amongst the urban fabric of Karawaci, Indonesia. The structure responds to its context by virtue of its scale and orientation as […]

Color Drenching: The Monochromatic Magic You Need for Your Home

When designing a space, building a color palette is a crucial step you cannot skip. You often combine varieties of neutral and solid colors to create a balanced and harmonious look. Sometimes, you even consult the color wheel and rely on color theory to ensure your color selection is on point. But, what if you […]

The AM House: Where Nature, Design, and Mindfulness Converge

The AM House is a garden retreat that offers its users  refuge within the rural landscape of Can Giuoc, Vietnam. It employs a fragmented layout of separate blocks unified underneath the home’s unifying roof. This affords the home a dynamic range of openings and spatial compositions tied together by three young architects, each having their […]

Audrey Lukban's "Anecdotal Evidence." Photo by Elle Yap.

‘Anecdotal Evidence’: Audrey Lukban Links the Material and Ethereal

Anecdotal Evidence is the new exhibit by Audrey Lukban currently being shown at MO_Space in Bonifacio Global City. Showing at the gallery from April 27 to May 26, the works feature paintings of everyday objects depicted in new and exotic ways.  In their write-up about the exhibit, James Luigi Tana said that Lukban’s work for […]

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