Getting skin deep
A group exhibition, featuring artists from the Philippines, gathers raw and primal themes.
THERE is nothing more intimate and vulnerable to a person than their very own body, or more accurately, flesh. There is something primal and sacred about it. Petaling Jaya-based gallery G13 Gallery has picked this subject matter as the theme of its latest group exhibition.
Aptly called The Way Of The Flesh, the exhibition, which runs until July 21, features works by eight artists from the Philippines. The list includes Ana Verayo, Art Sanchez, Ernest Concepcion, Dexter Sy, Jason Montinola, Kaloy Sanchez, Les Cruz and Valerie Chua.
The exhibition also features two guest artists – Kow Leong Kiang (Malaysia) and Ong-Arj Loeamornpagsin (Thailand).
Kenny Teng, G13’s director, reveals that public response has been positive with the gallery’s first show of mostly artists from the Philippines.
“We have had artists from the Philippines before – but not in a full group show setting. This show is exciting because we are looking at some of the the notable mid-career artist names in Philippines art scene,” says Teng.
Montinola, 39, who helped to co-curate this show with Teng, relished the challenge of presenting a list of Manila-based artists for their Malaysian show. Only Chua has showcased her work before at G13.
“The exhibition is all about the word ‘flesh’. Each artist makes their own interpretation about it. As a human, I think it’s the only word that we can easily relate to,” says Montinola.
“It may be layers of skin, layers of undertones, layers of painting or layers of illusion,” he points out.
The Way Of The Flesh exhibition features 30 works, including oil paintings, mixed media, acrylic and collages.
Upon closer look, artworks such as Sy’s Anito Tsino or Montinola’s Tribulation Of Saint Anthony, have a spiritual or religious undertone to them.
No specific brief was given to the artists, says Montinola.
“Some artists have works alluding to religious iconography. But their artistic practices mainly relay the cultural effects of colonial history in the Philippines. They focus mainly on social and cultural aspects of the images rather than spirituality,” he explains.
Montinola’s Tribulations Of Saint Anthony is a nod to James Esnor and Hieronymous Bosch’s painting of Saint Anthony overcoming worldly temptations.
“The imagery of a body with its insides replaced with symbolic summary of a man’s sins are related to his mortal longing for pleasures,” explains Montinola.
In the same vein, Cruz’s Mine (After Kippenberger) takes a spin on Martin Kippenberger’s installation series entitled Mine.
“Using meat products on display, it tries to question man’s own mortality and dependency on consumerism. It acknowledges the reality that men are basically skin sacks full of flesh and bones,” says Montinola.
Montinola also talked about how the young art scene is emerging in the Philippines.
“It has significantly been sporadic and decentralised ... geographical locations matter less since the emergence of the Internet,” he notes.
“The unlimited resources online for international shows and artists gradually affects the local art scene as well as the market. Western art has had great influence among the artists back home, but there’s an ongoing spirit of adaptability and wanting to carve the Philippine identity, however, whenever possible in our artworks.
“This has been been an ongoing movement for the past decade with no signs of slowing down,” says Montinola.
The Way Of The Flesh is on at G13 Gallery, Block B, Kelana Square, Jalan SS7/26, Kelana Jaya, Petaling Jaya in Selangor till July 21. Open daily from 11am to 5pm. Closed on Sunday/public holidays. For more information, visit www.g13gallery.com. Call 03-7880 0991 or 019-2114 697.
Ong-Arj Loaemornpagsin’s The Thinker (oil on canvas, 2018), which is one of the artworks in The Way Of The Flesh exhibition at G13 Gallery.
Montinola says the group exhibition is a diverse one, with layers of skin, layers of undertones, layers of painting or layers of illusion on the cards.