PSP NEAR Open Studio: Mike Adrao

BEYOND RECOGNITION
Familiarity as a Stranger in Our Midst

Mike Adrao sees. He sees apparent truths accepted by Filipinos. He sees the irony of being lost in a simple yet ugly reality. He sees and tells the story.

A contemporary artist from Marikina, Mike does not dabble but sketches with such precision and tenacity using pen and ink. Textures come to life eliciting sometimes hair-raising reactions about the social ills of this country. The falsity of colors disguising skills and critical thinking is absent in his works and in its place is a masterful manipulation of shades and tones. Monochromatic renderings they may be, but bland they are not. Each product of his insightful psyche is a well-orchestrated drama of despair, mockery, and rebellion against accepted dimensions of truth.

“(Ka)MaCHO” is an imagery of a faceless man sitting naked on his throne with the conventional angel-versus-demon struggle influencing him. Where his genitalia should be is a blank space and a big gash removing all his biological indications of masculinity is clearly seen. The hypocrisy in the macho mentality of the population is in question here. Him holding an elegant tiara is the standard men use to define beauty. The creature on his right explains the continuous restraint to his bloody fist of violence. However, the one on the left fuels his tendency to assert his machismo. Worth noting also is the resemblance of his wound on his chest to the alibata symbol for the letter “P”. It being related to “Pilipino”, we cannot tell with certainty. “Do AS YoU WiLL” is subtitled “ReFLeCTiON – AFTeR FriDA” for a distinct reason. It combines the elements of a Frida Kahlo surrealism, the harrowing silhouette of the Virgin Mary, and the obscenity of a love doll possessing the face of a conservative woman. Filipinas are likened to the image of the Holy Mother and evolved into the Maria Clara stereotype of a pious and conservative female some time in the past. However, recent role mutations imply the opposite. Playing with gender issues, the artist once again explains the complexity of the essence of womanhood – that which is not isolated from changes. The connection between love and a woman's sexuality is further explored as gleaned in the pseudo-umbilical cord in the hand of the doll and the heart of another.

From issues on sex, directly resulting are the religious overtones hibernating in the psychology of the Filipinos. The constant conflicts with taboo concerns as defined by the church remains embedded in our everyday lives. “Krus”, for example, reveals the inner workings of the Filipino mind. Eerie contours expose the image of a crucified man related to the central figure of Christianity within the bloated head of another man. This suggests the perpetual content of a common tao's mind. Every act becomes guided not merely by sincere respect for but a true fear of the cross. “SaMBAHiN_TaDTARiN” is about the marriage of religious fanaticism, localized based on existing cultures prior to the Spanish conquest, and motivated by Western influences. Somewhat straddling along the same line is “INFLuENZiA AmERiKaNA” depicting the Filipino statesman in his true color unmasked and exposing a truly American attachment to secular gain through unabated capitalism. In his head is the puppet master far more powerful than the host while his position in the social strata is forever secured by roots penetrating the deepest crevices of public influences. “INSeRTiON” reminds us of the picturesque portrait of a former dictator and his first lady. Concealed behind their royal fa├žade is an entanglement of serpents portending treachery while a gigantic coat of arms of the United States act as background. This emphasizes the convoluted play of power in the grand scale where the ingenuous is left in limbo. Concluding his discourse on the corruption of our entire society is “RePuBLiKA Cha CHA ChA!” Here, past, present, and future are cleverly represented through peeks at Charter change’s history and its consequence. The leftmost tableau is a hint of past attempts to modify the fundamental law of the land for the benefit of a few. In the middle is the representation of the bourgeoisie with snakes for heads as if telling the story of politicians shifting loyalties whenever convenient to them. The last scene paints a disconcerting possibility of tragedies and suffering.

In this collection he calls TROMA, Mike now explores the use of charcoal on most of his twenty-four by thirty-six-inch works. He regards his craft as a reflection of his continuing search for identity and the replacement of it by other symbols surrounding him. Incidentally, external stimuli demonstrate to him paths he takes to define his self. All these serve as diurnal entries in visual form occasionally removing heads signaling his being lost in his discoveries. This therapy for him remains a gift for others to vicariously experience for it offers them an almost reliable second person point-of-view by finding familiarity in the strange.

Mike Adrao majored in painting at the University of the Philippines, College of Fine Arts in 1998. He had participated in some notable group exhibitions, including “Ang Delatang Pinoy: Yes, the Filipino Can!” at Hiraya Gallery and “Mula Filibustero Hanggang Kay Marimar” at UP Vargas Museum in 1996. He was also among the selected artists for the “Young Artists Discovery Series” of Hiraya Gallery where he mounted "Verses" in 1997. His other group exhibitions include “Crossroads” at the Australian Center in 1998, “Songs of Renewal” at Casa San Miguel in Zambales in 1999, “Recent Works 4” and “Urbanisasyon” at Kulay Diwa Art Galleries in 2003. He also participated in MATAHATI’s second fundraising exhibition “Artriangle” at Soka Gakkai in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2008. Just recently, Mike Adrao finished his artist residency at Project Space Pilipinas’ Neo-Emerging Artist Residency (NEAR Manila). He is currently taking part in two art projects in Korea—a group exhibition in Art Space Plastic titled “Plastic Syndrome,” and “Reflections,” an artist exchange between Korea and the Philippines.

Mike Adrao struggles to discover himself and in the process is exposed to molds shaping the individual. Along the way, confusion sets in resulting in the loss of the definite self but this does not warrant giving in. He strives to find and to know even at the price of facing himself with more uncertainty for seeing is not selective. It does not discern between what one likes or fears. Like his art, the resultant feeling is an inevitable consequence of what is seen and sometimes the bitter sight is the only answer one holds. (Lloyd C. Llaga)

NEAR Resident Artist: Mike Adrao

Michael Alvin Adrao (b. 1973) studied fine arts major in painting at the University of the Philippines, College of Fine Arts in 1998. He had participated in some notable group exhibitions, including “Ang Delatang Pinoy: Yes, the Filipino Can!” at Hiraya Gallery and “Mula Filibustero Hanggang Kay Marimar” in 1996. Mike Adrao was also among the selected artists for the “Young Artists Discovery Series” of Hiraya Gallery where he mounted "Verses" in 1997. His other group exhibitions include “Crossroads” at the Australian Center in 1998, “Songs of Renewal” at Casa San Miguel in Zambales in 1999, “Recent Works 4” and “Urbanisasyon” at Kulay Diwa Art Galleries in 2003. He also participated in MATAHATI’s second fundraising exhibition “Artriangle” at Soka Gakkai in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2008. Mike Adrao will be NEAR Manila resident artist from May to August, 2009.

Solo Exhibition: Christopher Zamora

Project Space Pilipinas proudly presents “Sorrowful Mysteries,” a collection of new paintings by former NEAR Manila resident artist Christopher Zamora.

Taking its title from one of the four mysteries of the Holy Rosary, “Sorrowful Mysteries” at its clear-cut representation, reflects upon the current social and spiritual conditions in the Philippines. Being one of the largest Catholic nations in Asia, it goes without saying that faith plays a vital role in the daily lives of Filipinos. Religion in the Philippines is not something practiced only once a week, but rather a force governing everyday lives. Making the sign of the cross prior to almost every important undertaking carried out is as natural as hoping for best outcomes. Personal prayers are often whispered between breaths for good luck and guidance when embarking on a journey or making important decisions that may change lives. Indeed, the Catholic faith in the Philippines is the same divine energy that offers direction and confidence to the common people to survive through the day.

As Zamora noted, the idea of “Sorrowful Mysteries” originally stemmed out from his body of work that tackles various human struggles to escape the harsh realities brought about by poverty. Regardless of the continuing global economic predicament everyone faces, depression in the country is a commonplace image explicitly manifested in our daily actions. Many Filipinos are still hoping for instant relief from indigence through different ways such as playing the lotto or joining games and reality shows on TV. Church goers are growing consistently as life gets tougher everyday. Many are praying harder, wishing for miracles and solution to their seemingly endless destitution.

Christopher Zamora studied Fine Arts at the Philippine Women’s University in 1998, majoring in painting. In 2002, he bagged the 3rd prize in the oil category of Metrobank Foundation’s Annual Painting Competition. His solo exhibitions include “Everybody Wants to Feel Better” at Kulay Diwa Gallery in 2003, “Silip” at Boston Gallery in 2005, “Ordinary” at Blanc Space Gallery in 2007 and “Infectious” at West Gallery in 2009. Christopher Zamora has participated in some notable group exhibitions like “Emo” at Boston Gallery in 2001, “Ignorance is Bliss” at Kulay Diwa Gallery in 2003, “2nd Hand Smoke” at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 2006, “Art Triangle” at Soka Gakkai in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and “Tenggara: Recent Paintings from Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines” at Novas Gallery in Liverpool, UK in 2008. He was a NEAR Manila resident artist in 2008.

Sorrowful Mysteries will run until May 16, 2009.

Kissing the Methods

“In the works presented for the show, Angki no longer speaks about photography. Instead he expands his ideas on to the attempt at finding/creating objects within their new environments. The environment here can be referred to as the context that moves according to the age. So he combines particular natural elements with plastic—as one of the most amazing human creation of the century—and playing with it” (Nuraini Juliastuti).

Technology is inherent in all human works. A human-made thing I think will never reach its final stage. It will continue to morph until it finally finds its perfect post to let the people to react to it. Monalisa, for example, has always been an inspiration and source to be explored. Likewise, Che Guevara and Jesus Christ (and the Cross) have proved to be everlasting images.

Looking from this perspective, I do admire some works that I think are beautifully successful in marking the age of humanity. They—among others-are Nam Jun Paik: Electronic Opera no.1-1969, Nobuyoshi Araki: Sur-sentimentalist Manifest-1970, Damien Hirst: The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living-1992, Djoko Pekik: Berburu Celeng-1998, Mella Jaarsmaa: Hi Inlander (Hello native) 1998-1999, Agung Kurniawan: Sketch for Museum of Misunderstandings-2008.

They have invented genuine expression in examining local situations and responding them. The outcomes are often sensational narrativities. Living in today Indonesia, I feel like trapping in delusional fantasies that heavily shielded the real stories and experiences of the people until the real meanings are evaporating and gone to nothingness.

Kissing the Methods are the results of the acts of revising and updating towards the dynamic relation of Indonesian visual arts (that is arrogant and strict) and the audience. What else? – Angki Purbandono

Kissing The Methods, May 9 - 23, 2009
Richard Koh Fine Art, Solaris Mont' Kiara

No.7-1, Jalan Solaris 3, Solaris Mont' Kiara
50480 Kuala Lumpur, www.rkfineart.com

Korean Artists Open Studio



NEAR Manila resident artist Jinsuk Che together with two other Korean collaborators Youngeun Lee (theater artist) and Byongoh Ko (sound artist) opened the Project Space Pilipinas' studio last February 4, 2009. Jinsuk Che installed a couple of lighted lamps from her installation project "Air Castle" and a video projection of her collaborative project "Sonagi: Fading World." Youngeun Lee on the other hand created a map on the wall that locates and documents various places they visited and people they have met during their stay in Manila, while Byongoh Ko produced a sound piece made from noise recordings collected outside the studio.

NEAR Resident Artist: Cris de Leon

Concrete X is an inquiry to concrete conditions underlying the shape of the life of urban Philippines, in an attempt to have concrete basis for artistic production.

Crisanto de Leon (b. 1981, Manila) graduated at the Philippine Women’s University, BFA in Painting in 2006. He had participated in numerous group exhibitions since 2002 including “Recent Works 4” Kulay Diwa Art Galleries, “Deklarasyon” Cubicle Gallery in 2004, “My Personal Saviour” UP Corridor Gallery in 2005, and “Boxed” Big Sky Mind Alternative Space in 2006. He is an active member of TUTOK Artists Initiative and plays guitar for BYSTORM, a hardcore band based in Manila.

Preview: MATAHATI Kemata Dunia

Ahmad Shukri Mohamed, Ahmad Fuad Osman, Bayu Utomo Radjikin,
Hamir Soib @ Mohamed, Masnoor Ramli Mahmud

Friday, 10 April 2009, 8.30 PM
at Galeri Chandan,15, Jalan Gelenggang,
Damansara Heights, 50490 Kuala Lumpur

Exhibit will run until 25 April 2009
www.matahatikematadunia.com

NEAR Resident Artist: Jinsuk Che

"Variety of narratives about life can be found behind my works. They are often motivated by the definite and the essential in life. The idea of “origin” fascinates me. I constantly muse about the mystery of birth, life and death. As a point of departure in many of my works, I often ask, where do I begin? Where do I go from here? When and how will it end?

This concern also allows me to explore deeper into ideas such as creation and extinction, it makes me wonder how all our lives are connected or inter-connected to each other, why we are created, what we hope, and what we desire in living. I believe that to desire, to hope and to aspire is very human. It exists everywhere, all the time."

Jinsuk Che (b. 1979) is a media artist based in Seoul, South Korea. She is currently finishing her Ph.D. in Digital Media Design, Media Technology at the So-Gang University in Seoul. Jinsuk is the director of “Art Space Plastic” an independent artist-run space located within the compound of her family’s plastic recycling factory.

Guesstimates: Ranelle Dial


“Man is the measure of all things.” As early as two-and-a-half thousand years ago, our anthropomorphic bias—that we, as humans, are the final arbiters of the value of our surroundings—appeared in the words of Protogoras, the first of the Greek sophists. That idea remains central as well in post-modernism which, as one modern philosopher John Gray has noted, holds that there is no such thing as nature, only the floating world of our own constructions. In short, we decide what is real and what is not.

In Ranelle Dial’s exhibition, ‘Guesstimate,’ the artworks depicts and examines hand gestures that express an approximation of values as commonly used in conversation, especially among Filipinos. Without exactly holding or relying from a planned or fixed system of measurement, it is a widely used and accepted form of communication in face-to-face discussion. The term, “tantsahan,” is used to connote this approximation, a colloquial system that is less ideographic and ironically less abstract in thought than written language.

Much like classical Chinese script (which has been described by A.C. Graham as a “combination of graphic wealth with phonetic poverty”), it denotes no Form as bodiless as Plato’s the Good, the Bad and the True—terms that designated spiritual or intellectual entities. (Much of the wars and genocides throughout history were fought in the service of these abstractions.) Unlike that, the use of hand gestures is decidedly nominalist i.e. the recognition that these are only labels, names for the diversity of things in the world. It is this kind of understanding that illuminates Chinese philosophy, wherein their thinkers have rarely mistaken ideas for facts.

‘Guesstimate’ is not abstract, though it does not represent values as seemingly accurate as phonetic language. It places a premium in a form of communication that still recalled and engaged the realm of the senses; illuminating our proper place, not at the center of our world, but as a member of its audience to which we only have the barest hint of the narrative’s script. (Erwin Romulo)

Guesstimates: Ranelle Dial
West Gallery, West Ave. Q.C.
26 February to 26 March 2009

Happy Birthday Bobi V!

Bobi Valenzuela on being a curator.

Infectious: Christopher Zamora

Urbanization in the country today is escalating in an inevitable degree due to the immense proliferation of popular media such as the television, radio, magazines, and the internet. It has subjected loads of young people to a consumerist “what’s hot and trendy” lifestyle, transforming them into a massive agent of popular culture. Despite the worsening extent of poverty in the country, these young people still seek the importance of being identified as a citizen of the modern world, thus creating a culture of “show-offs.” Their intake of countless popular symbols, icons, music, language, style and fashion represent a kind of ideology, a defense or protection for survival.

The variety of emblems they carry, be it emo, punk or bling-bling clearly defines the group they want to be classified, and such grouping has spelled greater influence on the development or decay of their psychological and intellectual maturity. The effects of socio-economic instability, rapid developments in mass media and technology, has caused adverse consequences in the behavior of the youth, engaging themselves to risky activities such as smoking, drinking, drug use, gang wars, sex and violence.

Infectious magnifies images of young people who incessantly reinvents and replicates identities as an aid to conceal and liberate spirits.

Infectious
West Gallery
26.2-26.3,2009

Charlie Co: Images in Black

Bacolod artist Charlie Co, known for his vibrant and loud colors in his oil on canvas paintings, experiments this time on large-scale drawings done in charcoal on paper in his upcoming show “IMAGES IN BLACK” at Gallery Orange. Using charcoal as his medium, this style is new to Co, but he still achieves in his story-telling in the images in his latest artworks as he always does in oil paintings.

Images in Black opens on Feb. 6 at 6pm. Show will run until Feb. 15. Gallery Orange is located at the 2nd Flr., Lopue’s Annex Bldg, Mandalagan. For more details, please contact Carmel at 7090604 or email gallery.orange@yahoo.com.

NEAR Manila Artists-In-Residence 2009

Project Space Pilipinas is proud to present the roster of selected artists for the Neo-Emerging Artists-in-Residence, Manila 2009.

Jinsuk Che (b. 1979, Seoul, Korea) is currently finishing her Ph.D. in Digital Media Design, Media Technology at the So-Gang University in Seoul, South Korea. She holds an MS in Art and Technology at Chung-Ang University in 2005 and BFA in painting at the Sung-Kyun-Kwan University, in 2002. Jinsuk had her first solo exhibition in 2005 titled “Behind Story_Teasing,” a multi-media exhibition she presented during her residency at the International Artists Studio Program, Korea (IASK Goyang) of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea. The following year, she was selected for the OCAT International Artist Residency in Shenzhen, China, where she had her second solo exhibition titled “Project Utopia in China: Dream in Shenzhen” at He Xiangning Art Museum. Other residencies she participated include, Nakatue Village Art Camp, Oita, Japan in 2002 and AFI Seoksu Market Project, Anyang, Korea in 2007. In 2008, she had two solo exhibitions, “Air Castle” at Kwanhoon Gallery and “Project SONAGI: Fading World,” a media and performance collaboration at Moonshin Museum, Seoul. Jinsuk has been participating in several new media and public art group exhibitions since 2002, some notable exhibitions include “Pleasure Factory” Seoul Museum of Art and “Book Resembles People, People Resembles Books” Kumho Museum, 2003, “Bikini in Winter” Alternative Space Loop, Seoul and “Great Expectation” OCAT Art Terminal, Shenzhen, China, 2006, “Wild animals go to the city” Seoul Culture and Art Foundation, 2007 and “Media Roleplaying: Relativity” Incheon Media Art Festival 2008, Pupyung History Museum, Incheon, Korea. Just recently, she opened “Art Space Plastic” an independent artist-run space located within the compound of her family’s plastic recycling factory.

Crisanto de Leon (b. 1981, Manila) graduated at the Philippine Women’s University, BFA in Painting in 2006. He had participated in numerous group exhibitions since 2002 including “Recent Works 4” Kulay Diwa Art Galleries, “Deklarasyon” Cubicle Gallery in 2004, “My Personal Saviour” UP Corridor Gallery in 2005, and “Boxed” Big Sky Mind Alternative Space in 2006. Cris had also joined some notable group exhibitions which include “Mga Pahina’t Kwadro Alay sa Manggagawa” Liongoren Art Gallery, “Boxed Exhibit 2007” Cultural Center of the Philippines, “Tutok Kasaysayang: Unang Yugto” Glorietta Artspace Makati in 2007. In 2008, he exhibited in “Boys Don’t Cry” Nineveh Artspace, “Wrong number” Big and Small Art Gallery, and “TutoKKK” Blanc Gallery in Makati City. He is an active member of TUTOK Artists Initiative and plays guitar for BYSTORM, a hardcore band based in Manila.

Michael Alvin Adrao (b. 1973) studied fine arts major in painting at the University of the Philippines, College of Fine Arts in 1998. He had participated in some notable group exhibitions, including “Ang Delatang Pinoy: Yes, the Filipino Can!” at Hiraya Gallery and “Mula Filibustero Hanggang Kay Marimar” in 1996. Mike Adrao was also among the selected artists for the “Young Artists Discovery Series” of Hiraya Gallery where he mounted "Verses" in 1997. His other group exhibitions include “Crossroads” at the Australian Center in 1998, “Songs of Renewal” at Casa San Miguel in Zambales in 1999, “Recent Works 4” and “Urbanisasyon” at Kulay Diwa Art Galleries in 2003. He also participated in MATAHATI’s second fundraising exhibition “Artriangle” at Soka Gakkai in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2008.

Roedil “Joe” Geraldo (b. 1969, Talisay City, Negros Occidental) studied fine arts major in advertising at the La Consolation College School of Architecture and Fine Arts, in Bacolod City. He had participated in numerous group exhibitions in the Visayas and in Manila as well, some notable exhibitions include “Sungduan” (traveling exhibition organized by NCCA) in 2000, “8th VIVA EXCON (Visayan Islands Visual Art Exhibit and Conference): Best of Negros” in 2004, “Hinugot sa Yutang Pula: 2nd Dumaguete Biennial Terracotta Art Festival and Competition” Dumaguete City in 2007, and “Aramid” Pinto Gallery, Antipolo City, “Three Expressions in Terracotta” Total Gallery, Alliance Francaise de Manille, “Anyo” Art Informal in 2008. Joe Geraldo is a consistent finalist in the Philip Morris Philippine Art Awards from 2003 to 2008, and an awardee of several sculpture and painting competitions in the region. Conscientiously producing massive pieces in two and three-dimensional forms, he had held six solo exhibitions including “Oras 1” La Salle Museum, Bacolod City, in 1996, “Time 2” Negros Museum, Bacolod City, in 2001, “Halad sa Duta” Kaida Gallery, Quezon City, in 2007 and his most recent, “Putik” Negros Museum, Bacolod City, in 2008.

Israel Mark Gonzales (b. 1984, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental) graduated at La Consolation College School of Architecture and Fine Arts, Bacolod City, major in painting in 2006. He was finalist at the Shell National Student Art Competition in 2005, 2004 and semifinalist at the Metrobank Foundation’s Art and Design Excellence (MADE) National Competition also in 2004. He had attended various art-related workshops including “Art Barrage: Young Artists Discovery” sponsored by the Metrobank Foundation Inc. and Black Artists in Asia in 2003, and “Negros Museum Summer Creative Art Workshop” in Bacolod City in 2005. Some of notable group exhibitions he had participated include “8th VIVA EXCON (Visayan Islands Visual Art Exhibit and Conference): Best of Negros” in 2004, “Pasidungog,” Orange Gallery in 2005, “9th VIVA EXCON: Punias” Samar, Leyte in 2006, “2nd Dumaguete Biennial Terracotta Art Festival and Competition” Dumaguete in 2007, and “Three Expressions in Terracotta” Total Gallery, Alliance Francaise de Manille, in 2008.