Leslie de Chavez: Banana Republic

The gallery Avanthay Contemporary, Zurich proudly presents the work of the Philippine artist, Leslie de Chavez (*1978, Manila), in his solo exhibition entitled "Banana Republic".

"The state of the nation wasn't to be found in the words, it was to be found in the images." (Conrado de Quiros, columnist, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 30th July, 2008)

The Philippines proudly call itself a democratic country. The reality is in fact different. According to recent studies and surveys, the Philippines are one of the most corrupt countries in all of Asia. The World Bank estimates that over two billion US dollars go missing yearly due to corruption. And the corruption is growing incessantly year for year. Political murders, disappearances of people, offences against human rights, fraud, theft and violence are ever increasing. Seldom does the government take action to stop these offences. The president Gloria Macapal Arroyo has withstood two separate impeachment hearings, diverse corruption scandals and accusations of elections result manipulation. Corruption has reached such extraordinary proportions that many Philippines existences have been destroyed due to the continuing decay of the social and political situation there.

With this exhibit, "Banana Republic", artist Leslie de Chavez would like to raise awareness of these abuses that have occurred in his country. For Chavez the symbol of the banana in his title "Banana Republic" is significant. The symbol of the banana re-appears in an aggrandized or inflated state, indicative of the corruption it may represent. The dusk atmosphere in his images is evoked not only through his subject matter, but also through the color of his canvas; Chavez paints on black linen. His style evokes images of the German-American artist, graphic designer und Caricaturist George Grosz (1893-1959) who became known for his critical depiction of society in his paintings and drawings. Similar to Grosz, Chavez provokes and criticizes with and through his work. In his painting titled "The medium is the message", Chavez quotes Media Theorist Marshall McLuhan, author of the famous book with the same title, which Chavez read during his studies. "The medium is the message" stands for the symbols or the elements in his painting, such as for example fish bones, the basket with the bananas or the camera. These symbols represent attributes of a figure or of an image. The message of these symbols is, however, directed not only towards the figure it represents but also and most especially towards the viewer. www.avanthaycontemporary.com (- Simone Toellner, Avanthay Contemporary)

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