Thursday, December 10, 2015

Values by Rai Cruz and Gabby Tiongson

The absence of meaning in art is a rare occurrence. A brush stroke is never empty, a shade hardly hollow. Behind the seemingly uncalculated curations is a strong undertow. 

Values are the muses that fuel the human drive and dictate the human creativity. It is the subconscious influence, the North Star that guides the process of an artist and, ultimately, the artist themselves. Art is a direct reflection of the things we hold dear, the things that matter to us, and, at times, the vanishing remnants of values of an era almost forgot, fossils of a value-centric ideal, both simultaneously disappearing and clawing to be remembered at the sprint of the present.

With a divine chaos of color and grit, reminiscent of both pop tart aesthetics and textured memories, Gabby Tiongson and Rai Cruz's "Values" goes back to basics and gets down to what really matters.

Ugly Truth by Chalk Zaldivar

The facade of politeness for the sake of false harmony is put under scrutiny in Chalk Zaldivar's latest series UGLY TRUTH. He presents a satirical take on the forbidden territories of insult and anger in a non-confrontational society such as ours. Sensitivity to negative comments is a common characteristic for humans. The use of niceties and to walk around eggshells to spare another's feeling has become an expectation, if not a requirement.

Criticizing the lack of straightforwardness and also to vent some of his personal frustrations and irritations, he employs exaggerated imagery. For instance, being fat or having overly active sweat glands turn into points of focus that the artist blows up in infinite proportions with the use of his signature style. To receive the full effect of his premise, he pairs each of the pieces equally witty and audacious titles. Taking the idea from stand-up comedians Louis CK, Bill Burr and Ricky Gervais, he exhibits a refreshingly candid and direct approach in expressing his grievances.

He includes a self-portrait to the series, in admittance of his participation in the ridiculousness of this truthfully egoistical habit. Highlighting his own flaws and insecurities, the artist doesn’t spare himself from being part of his own joke.

Zaldivar remains brave and unapologetic in the crassness and the deliberate lack of depth. In protest of people who are oblivious to their own shallowness, he presents the premise that perhaps it is okay to be so. And that it is good, if not even healthy, to release and admit the tension rather than internalize for the sake of political correctness.

Talking Dollars Dub Smash by David Griggs

TALKING DOLLARS DUB SMASH mixes iconography from Griggs’ fascination with the Wild West with Horror and with his own irrational thoughts. What we get is an eclectic yet democratic collection of paintings that seems to harness the pure primal element of painting. Griggs, being Australian by birth is talking in Dollars although he really should be talking in Kings. Being a direct ancestor of a British convict convicted of buggery in 1822 and sent to Van Diemen’s Land. Griggs uses what he calls “this irrelevant trivia of my origin” as a way to completely ignore “the current trends of making work about ones identity, I find it very silly” Although the fact of its mention can allow us to think that Griggs is indeed confronting his identity, or lack of his care towards it. Either way TALKING DOLLARS DUB SMASH gives us a glimpse into Griggs’ strange world where dub smashing to Hip Hop, painting cow skulls one day then painting penises the next does make one wonder.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

SOS by Renz Bautista

"It’s our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique.” 
- Conan O’Brien

Best advice in knowing your own identity is fully exploring yourself, your style. This is Hard.

Unending battle on how to standout not only from other artist but also the struggle in creating the so-called “perfect” artwork is not effortless.


Masters become masters because they know and accept the fact that there is no such thing as “perfect” art. This made them real and human enough to make priceless pieces.

S.O.S., represents the endless re-planning and revisions of an artist to achieve an ideal piece. Inspired by the late performance artist Bas Jan Ader’s work about a piece of paper that almost tears off due to the continuous draw-erase repetition, all result of the unsatisfied feeling towards his (Bas Jan) work. This collection magnifies struggles of a young artist in discovering his own piece of “perfection”. Today, severely obsessive self is born.

I Wonder How You Are by Kelli Maeshiro

Traveling across multiple metropolitan cities, Kelli Maeshiro has met a variety of people, many who became friends. But as Kelli was constantly on the move, time and distance widened the proximity to the people she knew. She missed her relationships with the friends and acquaintances she used to see. The concept for I wonder how you are comes from the artist’s recollections of the people she has met along her travels but will never see again. In everyday moments away from home, Kelli found herself writing imaginary letters to the memories she had of people she once knew. She began each letter by asking “I wonder how you are?” to the memories she had of a specific individual. In those letters, Kelli discovered the most honest side of herself. The letters became a space of reflection where she could reminisce about the mistakes, regrets, and uncertainties in her relationships with people—past, present, and future.

The paintings in I wonder how you are capture the artist’s memories of the people to whom she writes. The layers of hazy color washes and hard outlines depict strong snapshots of quickly passing moments combined with her memories, grown misty with time. In this series, Kelli composed each letter and painting simultaneously, choosing images for the painting at the same time that she penned the letter. She added or subtracted elements to and from each painting by filtering it through her memories, aesthetics, and senses. Each painting in the series corresponds to unique objects or characteristics associated with the memories of that person, and the back of each painting contains Kelli’s unsent letter.

The basis of Kelli’s work relies on the reflection of personal experiences and relationships. She regrets missed opportunities to get to know someone, and as she grows older, has recognized the value of those missed opportunities. She thinks of her own work as sentimental. She believes that people are sentimental about the things or time they miss—these sentimental self-reflections are what her paintings address. The paintings in this series can be read as soft and hazy, like distant memories. We recreate memories as we remember them in the present, and may think of them differently in the future. In our memories, we forget parts of what really happened, and stories become fragmented and then pieced back together with truth and a small dose of fiction. Kelli’s letters in this series are the same as these kinds of memories. They are parts and pieces of a person, infused with her thoughts and reflection, filtered from her perspective. In this way, her work offers an honestly raw and refreshing perspective on our relationship to memory.

Kara Hisatake, PhD, UC Santa Cruz Literature Department


Kelli Maeshiro is a Japanese-American born in Japan and raised in Hawai‘i. She worked in Tokyo, Boston, Portland, and currently resides in Manila and Honolulu. She earned her BA in studio art at Willamette University. I wonder how you are is her first solo show in Manila. She has previously worked as an in-house marketing/magazine designer/photographer, and the combination of magazine, design, and photography experience has influenced her current work.

Cryptoentomology by Tano Panaligan

A legend of an epidemic when people discover an ancient book about insects. Little did they know the book was of ability of insects in destroying humans. And in all faiths of mankind, people experimented till all was lost by their own hands. 

Heed the whirring noise of the distant swarm, an epidemic is signaling its return. 

The city has been drowned in the sound of a million buzzing wings singing a brooding, discordant hymn as hexapods march their way out of dilapidated buildings to lurk into every disquiet avenue. All the districts, streets and parks that once radiated life are now shrouded in an eerie sense of decay. Everything has fallen into disrepair. 

Disoriented ants creep out of fractured asphalt roads, almost mimicking blood oozing out of the crevices. Blank-eyed Cicadas blurt out their cacophonous songs as they witness the self-disemboweling dance of a thousand mutant bees buzzing around a fluctuating lamppost. The swarm is back; they are never leaving.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Don't Mind Me... I'm Just Trippin' by Regen Mulingtapang

When the mind dives into a whole different world in which then comes intuitive perception and responsiveness to the environment, it is often marked by a full recollection of visions from colorful to playful characters. It is a dream-like state. Everything is trippy.

People have different hallucinations, some never forget their experience. Dreams can be an annoyance and a mystery to some. A higher level of conscious awareness, when taken advantage of, makes more sense when you enjoy the pleasures of your dream. Everything is trippy.

Don't find the middle ground. Don't try to understand. Stay high and have the most awesome adventures in your wakefulness. Lucid and vivid dreams that are magical and blissful. Everything is trippy.

If sleep is fascinating, to dream is even more so. But being awake is extremely benevolent and joyous as represented in fantasia. Everything is trippy.

Delusions come with profounding light. Time to propagate the experiences, the visions, the magical scenes then sleep long and deep. Don't mind me...I'm just trippin'. Everything is trippy.