Get­ting skin deep

A group ex­hi­bi­tion, fea­tur­ing artists from the Philip­pines, gath­ers raw and pri­mal themes.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Woman - By DI­NESH KU­MAR MAGANATHAN [email protected]­tar.com.my

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.

— Pho­tos: G13 Gallery

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.

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