As take off, I articulated images of a particular unfinished house and placed it at varying settings that are more of situations than locations. Simultaneously, I pondered about the Filipino-cultural notion of having a dream house, how it takes form according to changing situations, and how it can be connected to the recent contexts of my family (among others) in its most recent immigration and undertaking of generating roots in Toronto. These musings are primarily tools for creative structuring particularly in connecting and/or relating elements of the works and not necessarily the main point, narrative or expressive end. My attempt is that through the result of my dealings with entwined processes of thought and painting, I would be able to push my narrow premise towards something beyond and be able to challenge imagination or inspire inquiry.
These paintings are the 3rd set of developments that started at Bandung in 2008, with Curator Agung Jennong, through a plan for an exhibition about family. “Making Home” presented at the Manila Contemporary in 2009 exhibited the 1st set of works, which used the images of unfinished house, cargo container, feel of architectural detail and bare drawings.(please see the link for pictures)
During those initial stages, my interest in working out the meaning of family is centered on playing with Filipino metaphors of relating family members as parts of the house, and respectively, the house as a reflection of the socio economic situation at that time (highlighted by the 2008 financial crisis). The house image came from pictures I personally took of an existing home in a middle class housing complex in Manila. The Panlilio family dream house story relates much including the passing of many financial crises and the common desire (among families in the Philippines) to build a house of ones own design. From the cheap purchase of its lot during the 80’s crisis, its construction that has been delayed by shortage of funds due in part to deviations from the initial plan (underestimated improvements perhaps the shift of desire over time), to the manner of its construction whereby quality parts of the house are taken from torn down establishments, all of these ideas, has inspired me and has been among my sources for structuring creative articulation.
Travel and transfer of my family as a contextis another recurring source that supported some visual elements in the works such as changing settings (sometimes embodied by taking images from places where we have been) and also the cargo container image. Usage of images with architectural feel is an expression of a design tendency for pastiche and extensions, which I believe is culturally innate among Filipinos. Bare drawings, occasionally appearing in forms resembling blue print images are in view of drawings as plans and therefore a space open for change, projection and the unknown.
The 2nd set of paintings were presented in “Oras Pang Pamilya(Family Time)”
through the Langgeng Gallery in Jakarta in 2010.(please see the link for pictures)
The works at this stage drew from thoughts about the future. The house image in this exhibition became bleak but still appeared to maintain the connection. Ideas of travel and transfer through changing settings is more evident but of a different flavor than the first exhibition. Involving images of sci-fi scenarios (apocalyptic, post apocalyptic and new world) provided a stronger expression through ambient qualities. It also presented the setting as more of a situation than a location. Here, a different sense of dream not exactly connected to the making of a home is realized. Involving recent personal experiences as among the meanings of the work is a key in this set, particularly a reflection on the worst flood that struck Metro Manila (brought by typhoon “Ondoy”), which not only devastated the city in apocalyptic proportions but also nearly claimed my life in a leptospirosis outbreak. Other than this experience the confirmation and anticipation of my family’s major move to Toronto has equally occupied our minds.
The current set of works uses main elements of the 1st and the 2nd exhibitions but, It also features fresher sources of imagery and thought.
Manner of Painting
If a particular take off is likened to a single brush and all the paint its bristles can hold, ill do my best to spread that paint as much into something which will not fit the single mark it is expected to be.
The best description I can give with regards my process, is that of continuous painting over, or alteration of existing images, like brushing on an existing painting or page. Although in this case, the existing images I am painting over, I also did myself. I scarcely use randomly found images, the images I use are deliberately sought with specific intent. The sense of saying that I paint over images is not much of an explicit visual quality but more of how I bring an image into another context. After the existing image was altered as a result of “painting over” and became a different image altogether, I will then attempt to bring it to another direction again and so forth. To enlarge a small drawing into a big painting is a part but not the general structure of my process . First I find my models or subjects that I intend to use as elements and then I work on them. After this I combine them in composition and again I work on it. This becomes my drawing which will not exactly be scaled into a large image but will be used as take off for a different work on canvas. On canvas painting processes and image encounters takes over.
The description above helps identify my concerns over representation, realism and technique. The representation of meanings as a direct message is not of primary importance to me because I prefer the work to go beyond. However, I don’t mind if the representation is about something that naturally comes out. In this case it is more expressive than representational. Despite elements being captured initially through photography. My attention is not on replicating details for showing skill but more of bringing out necessary parts to construct the greater picture (-which for me is the ultimate detail). I use an image’s representational qualities in working out meaning but I also use them for just how they look. I employ a range of techniques leading to a realistic effect or to an expressive effect depending on what I think is necessary or adventurously could bring out more potential. Technique is important because it allows me to play with elements thoroughly. In cases that I need to pursue realism, my techniques are keener on color sensibilities than illustration. I like the challenge in pursuing something less common in appreciation, especially because realism is most commonly assessed in terms of accuracy skills in drawing. Representation in my works is more as a means of construction (than a reason for technique). It supplies the meanings/problematic that guide the choices of images, process and juxtaposition.
Strategies of Abstraction on the other hand, have been consistently employed as a general mode in the production of my paintings. To state, I am concerned with the articulation and play of ideas and images leading to expressive creation of forms and meaning. I favor the redirection, blurring and de contextualization from literal interpretation. I enjoy and feel the need for spontaneity and gesture even if I don’t do it entirely throughout the whole surface or if they are done through subtle approaches. I use visual components to bring the work back to context of flatness and painting. I anticipate the overall effect in my work to be of ambiguous or shapeless meaning. At the end of the day I always hope to achieve a sense of profoundness.