CUL­TURE TOP TEN

Town & Country (Philippines) - - CONTENTS / SEPTEMBER DEPARTMENTS - TRICKIE C. LOPA

Ian Fabro’s one-man show at the Var­gas Mu­seum; “Ra­mon Valera and the Mod­ern” at the Cen­ter for Cam­pus Art; Soumak cel­e­brates its 20th an­niver­sary with an ex­hibit by Johnny Al­cazaren and Trek Valdizno; and more.

If we go by John Mil­ton, it took all of Satan’s cun­ning—and a band of equally ne­far­i­ous co­horts—to or­ches­trate man’s fall from Eden. Artist Ian Fabro, on the other hand, needed only pen, pa­per, and a heavy-duty sta­ple gun to im­part his own

Par­adise Lost chron­i­cles. The re­sult­ing pieces, how­ever, are ev­ery bit as lay­ered, tex­tured, and com­plex as Mil­ton’s 350-year-old verses.

Fabro, 23, takes over the third floor ex­hi­bi­tion space of the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines’ Jorge Var­gas Mu­seum for a one­man show en­ti­tled “The Ar­row of Time in the Heart of the Sun,” that opens this month. His last ex­hibit, “Hurt Anatomies,” landed him on the shortlist of the 2016 Ate­neo Art Awards. The artist con­tin­ues to use his draw­ings as the pri­mary de­vice to con­vey his vis­ual nar­ra­tives. That he piles his ob­ses­sive ball­point scrib­bles one on top of the other, about a hun­dred of them in one work, and sets them in place by us­ing sta­ple wire and dress­maker pins, gives his work their sin­gu­lar­ity.

“When I was still in school, I would al­ready play around with my draw­ings,” re­counts Fabro, who stud­ied Fine Arts at the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines, in Filipino. “I wanted to ex­per­i­ment with col­lages, so I would tear them up. And then I wanted to find a way to put them to­gether. I dis­cov­ered that by us­ing my sta­pler, I gave them a qual­ity that I was look­ing for: it was as if I had sur­gi­cally stitched them back to­gether and had given them scars. Like Franken­stein.”

His en­thrall­ment for Mil­ton’s master­piece stems from a con­tin­ued fas­ci­na­tion with Catholic im­agery. “I started out min­ing re­li­gious sym­bols as a form of re­bel­lion, ayaw ko ta­laga sila. But lately, I have started to ap­pre­ci­ate what a vast source of po­etic forms they hold. They have now be­come my vis­ual lan­guage.”

This suite of works takes off from the il­lus­tra­tions of Gus­tave Doré, the en­grav­ings of Wil­liam Blake, and Le Ge­nie du Mal (The Ge­nius of Evil), the haunt­ing Ro­man­tic sculp­ture of Lucifer by the Bel­gian artist Guil­laume Geefs. It is Fabro’s fre­netic wield­ing of his sta­ple gun, how­ever, that makes the wall-bound pieces com­pelling, mark­ing them as uniquely his.

Sta­ple wire pressed closely to­gether or webbed en masse form pat­terns that give heft and tac­til­ity to Fabro’s sur­faces. In one work, they seem to ra­di­ate up­ward as the Morn­ingstar that gives off light. In an­other, tight, neat rows of stain­less steel staples ar­ranged in a chevron de­sign call up de­tail from the ar­mor of St. Michael. Twist­ing coils of cop­per staples evoke the serpent that lured Adam and Eve to their doom. Two pan­els com­pletely blan­keted in the steel braces re­call in­fer­nal doors that open the flood­gates of evil.

The works are dark and somber; they are as pon­der­ous as to be ex­pected from any study of Mil­ton’s text. In Par­adise Lost, the fallen an­gels cre­ated Pan­de­mo­nium. Ian Fabro, how­ever, ru­mi­nates on their fate and seems in heav­enly bliss. Septem­ber 2 to 23, Roxas Av­enue, Univer­sity of the Philip­pines, Dil­i­man, Que­zon City, 928.1927; var­gas­mu­seum@gmail.com; var­gas­mu­seum.upd.edu.ph.

Edited by Pierre A. Calasanz

BAt­tLInG DEMonS Artist Ian Fabro’s largescale art­works (as yet un­ti­tled), are com­posed of an in­tri­cate lay­er­ing of draw­ings, pins, and sta­plewire.

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