MANO MANO: Adrao and Rodriguez

One brings up Mano Mano and the tendency is to refer to a spontaneous brawl, or else a fighting match where challengers agree to use only their fists. Yet in martial arts parlance, Mano Mano would be the higher level in the practice of Eskrima, the weapons-based fighting technique known and practiced by various names in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Disciples of Eskrima are taught that weapons are mere appendages to the body. The weapon is the body, and therefore the hands that wield the weapons will become proficient enough to fight entirely bare. Hence, Mano Mano, as the title of this two-man exhibit suggests, is a declaration of advancement, of a proficiency that could only be achieved by discipline and devoted practice.

Michael Alvin R. Adrao and Raoul Ignacio M.Rodriguez were first brought together in the national summer visual arts workshop organized in 1995 at Sambalikhaan by Brenda Fajardo and the late Bobi Valenzuela with Baglan, the organization of cultural workers, the Asian Institute for Liturgy and Music (AILM) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). This was an art camp that emphasized collaborative work and experimentation in art making based on basic traditional art practices. Among the other students from different schools and regions who interacted with them were Geraldine Javier, Mideo Cruz, Jonathan Ching, Fernan Escora and Martin Genodepa and other names known in the roster of innovative contemporary artists today.

“Mano Mano” joins Adrao and Rodriguez anew, primarily through a similar passion for drawing and then too for their parallel scrutiny of the human condition, mired as it is and grappling with transfigurations wrought on nature by mechanized and labor-intensive industries. Beyond its manifestation as plan and notation of immediacy for the benefit of mainstream art outputs such as painting and sculpture, the craft of drawing is brought to light by this exhibit as a discipline in its own right. These are inscriptions of image and statement that could only be consciously developed by learned hands.

Mike Adrao is a graduate of UP College of Fine Arts and finished residencies at NEAR Dangsang in Seoul, Korea in 2009 and Project Space Pilipinas in 2008. Iggy Rodriguez studied at UST College of Fine Arts and Architecture and was a recipient of the CCP Thirteen Artists Awards in 2009, and twice won at the pen-and-ink drawing category of the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP) competition in 2003 and 2001.

“Mano Mano” is presented by slash/art artists’ initiatives at Blanc Compound Mandaluyong at 359 Shaw Boulevard Interior, Mandaluyong City from November 16 to 30, 2010. The artists will be present at the opening reception on Tuesday, November 16 at 6:00pm.

Ateneo Art Awards 2010 : Shattering States

On its fiftieth anniversary, the Ateneo Art Gallery is pleased to announce that “Shattering States” has been selected as the theme of this year’s Ateneo Art Awards in recognition of the museum’s pioneering efforts in championing the cause of modernism in the country.

Traversing the range and scale of art practice, the 2010 edition of the Awards actively underscores the transgressions being carried out by artists rather than being an evocation of stasis or permanence. Ceaselessly challenging traditional media forms, this year presents an explosive gamut of artists whose codified works in one way or another hybridize manifestations that delineate and define the cutting edge.

Beyond the parameters of the object and its creator, “Shattering States” is also an ongoing reflection about time and place: a mental mapping of links that connect local and global concerns. As Philippine society finds itself yet again at the cusp of success or failure, art is ultimately about harnessing and realizing the potential of the imagination to create a wishing space that will effectuate lasting change.

The winners of the 2010 Ateneo Art Awards: Shattering States, were announced in a well-attended awards ceremony at the Grand Atrium of the Shangri-La Plaza last Thursday, 12 August. Leslie de Chavez was awarded for his solo exhibition, Buntong Hininga, shown at Silverlens Gallery; Pow Martinez for his solo exhibition 1 Billion Years in West Gallery; and Mark Salvatus for his work Secret Garden, which was part of the group show Sungduan 5: Daloy ng Dunong held at the National Museum.

The Ateneo Art Awards are given to Filipino visual artists below the age of 36 for outstanding works in an exhibition.

Artriangle 3, National Art Gallery, Malaysia

Reflection at Bupyeong Arts Center, Korea

The French art historian and sociologist, Pierre Francastel (1900-1970), regarded art space as not just an independent aesthetic, but also as a symbolic system of social space. Through the mirrors of contemporary art, the ‘The Reflections’ exhibition projects the stories of modern people and society. The word ‘reflection’ (which capture both an outward reflection of external influences, as well as an inward self-reflection) symbolizes how through the eyes of two different countries, we can see a different perspective or a ‘mirror image’ of our society. This project is an art exchange project hosted by ‘Art Space Plastic’ in Korea and ‘Project Space Pilipinas’ based in Manila Philippines, which bring together two teams of young artist from Korea and the Philippines through an international exhibition exchange, to create both their individual and collaborative works on the symbolic theme of a ‘house’, drawing upon the influences of their own country’s society and culture. For this exhibition, the artist from Korea and the Philippines spent a month together in each country and through their personal experiences and interaction with each other, expressed through their works, the ‘harmony’ of their two cultures.

One of the artists, Byung-Sung Koh, based his artwork ‘Ulingan’ on his personal experience of his visit to Ulingan, Tondon, an area alienated from the rest of Manila, Philippines. Through his installation work, the artist uses ‘light’ to symbolize the innocence of the young children he encountered there, where their pure and bright smiles are transposed into the bright colors of the rainbow, in contrast with the dark and harsh reality of their everyday lives. In the collaborative art installation piece titled ‘ZIP’, created by artist Byung-Sung Koh and Carlo Gabuco, the English title itself is based on the pronunciation of the Korean word for ‘house’ (‘jib’), which can also convey the meaning of ‘being compact’, suggesting a way in which we can look at both countries’ politics, religions and cultures. The two artists combined the archetypal buildings from each country, a Roman Catholic Church building from the Philippines and a traditional Korean-style house (‘hanok’) from Korea, to create a somewhat unusual looking house, inside of which a photo of the two artists can be seen, which shows a vivid scene of how we live our lives.

The collaboration piece titled ‘What is your dream house?’ by artist Ja-Yeon Kwon, Jin-Suk Che and Christopher Zamora, was based on a direct survey of Koreans and Filipinos, which asked people to describe their ‘dream house’. The artist used the survey to create either a drawing or an installation art piece of each person’s ‘dream house’. The artists from Korea, each with their own perspectives of a house’s shape and its amenities which have been shaped in the context of Korea’s own historical development, created the ‘dream house’ described in the Filipinos survey; similarly, the Filipino artists, each with their own notions of what a ‘house’ would look like, created their visualizations of how Koreans described their ‘dream houses’. The final outcomes of this process show houses whose designs demonstrate ingenuity in the artists’ achievement of creating harmony between the Philippines and Korea.

In his piece titled ‘Our universe’, artist Leslie de Chavez arranged hundreds of picture frames in rows, containing images of Filipino families. In the Philippines, where society is built on family values, the ‘house’ is a warm and emotional place where the family can be together in one place and as well as the driving force for pursuing one’s hopes, dreams and goals. Not only does each scene in a photo capture everyday family life, but it also reflects the country’s society and culture, a scene capturing the process of repetition and renewal of generations over time, their own small universe.

If we were to treat the above pieces as works, which represented a ‘house’ as an emotional space where ‘life’, ‘dreams’ and ‘family’ can flourish, then the piece titled ‘Magic Castle’ by artist Jun-Hee Han explores the representation of a ‘house’ as a snapshot of social structure. Through virtual reality, people today can create their space and house; in reality however, a ‘dream house’ is no different to any other illusion. The artist pushes himself beyond the limits of institutional boundaries and through his piece, reinterprets the meaning of a ‘house’ in a contemporary and satirical context by representing the ‘house’ as becoming just another ‘object of desire’ for people who are drifting endlessly through life. The ‘Magic Castle’ symbolizes the boundary between mainstream society and those excluded from it. Similar to a castle rampart, changes in politics, society and culture will only cause this barrier higher and higher.

The piece titled ‘Conversation’ is a large-scale collaboration which brings together the drawings of artist Mike Adrao with the media art of So-Young Lee and Ju-Yeon Lee. The artists discovered that the colonial past of the Philippines and Korea was a common denominator of their two nations’ histories and their collaboration piece used patterns representing the national identity and heritage of the two countries before the colonial period. These traditional patterns of the two countries will interact in harmony with visitors, whose movements will be visualized on a screen through motion drawing. This piece shows how art through images can overcome communication barriers formed by different languages and cultures, where drawings by a Filipino artist using traditional methods, can be complemented by two Korean artists creating media art using modern techniques, the combination of which amplifies the significance of this art pieces.

In her piece titled ‘Text-ring’, artist Ju-Yeon Lee explores the important role played by social networking website ‘Twitter’ in facilitating social interaction in modern society. Dealing with subject matters of ‘relationship’ and ‘communication’, visitors can type in their Twitter messages, which will then appear as a ‘text-ring’, creating a bond and communication link between the artist and the visitor. We are each a ring that links together with each other, and we surround ourselves with the links to other rings that we make throughout our lives. The rings that are linked to us today are not only the links we have made directly, but also there are links which we have formed in the past at random points in our lives; or there might be links which were not formed by us, but through the links of others. Although we may not feel that those who live in other parts of the world can matter to us, like blood capillaries, we are all actually connected to each other and to other societies.

Artist So-Young Lee captured on camera the scenes of the seaside in Subic, a 2-hour journey by car, North West of Manila. Her piece titled ‘Scenes of the seaside in Subic’, shows images, which like surrealist paintings, reflects the landscape of the Philippines, from the eyes of a stranger. Late one night, while she was walking along the seaside, she encountered a peaceful and natural scene before her, which felt so incredibly surreal and beautiful that it reminded her of the sharp contrast of the scenery to the harsh reality faced by some of the local people. The artist wants to convey with the affection she felt when she saw the sights of the Philippines, a message of hope that in the darkness, the moon will ever shine more brightly. (Park, Soyeon, Reflection Curator)

Exchange Resident Artists and Curator 2010

Korean artists, Kho Byongsung, Lee Soyoung, Lee Juyeon and curator Park Soyeon visited Manila, Philippines to conduct research for "Reflection", an artist-exchange and art-collaboration between Filipino and Korean artists.

Plastic Syndrome (Art Space Plastic, 2009)

'Plastic' comes from the Greek word "plastikos" which means to shape or to mold. We can relate some characteristics of plastic to our modern society for the fact that it can be molded or shaped into various forms with a wide variety of use and functions.

Plastic took its essential material position in this modern society less than 100 years ago. Whether we like it or not, we utilize it in many ways because of its convenient characteristics. It can be considered a ‘major key substance’ in modern civilization more than its being an industrial substance. Some scholars defined this period to be ‘the 4th civilization age’ or the ‘Plastic Age,’ succeeding Stone Age and the Iron Age. To date, plastics confront another phase as it becomes synonymous with environmental problems, but nevertheless, we cannot deny its function and advantages to our daily living.

‘Plastic Syndrome’ intends to create an opportunity to review and reinterpret modern living as a ‘plastic society’ through art. Some participating artists took advantage of plastic as a material-substance to create art works, while others makes use of it as a metaphor to express various aspects of modern ‘plastic’ society. Nonetheless, the world they see and tell about plastic society is not limited to the features of modern man and his surroundings, vain and lacking in sincerity. And thus, they have tried to explore the real meaning in modern life by relating through the peeled, transparent and sometime glossy quality of plastic.

Even if tons of plastic products are being used and thrown away daily, most of them are being recycled repeatedly through a recycling system. And this brings us to the question of whether its incessant recycling is beneficial to our daily lives. Right at this moment, many people for sure are using plastic, drinking from plastic bottles, typing using plastic keypads, listening from their plastic radios, etc. And definitely, tons of plastic wastes are also being carried out to plastic recycling factories at this moment to be given a new life, a new form and hopefully some of them would breathe again anew through some methods of art. (- Soyeon Park, Curator, Plastic Syndrome)

Participating Artists: Jinsuk Che, Soyeon Cho, Jayeon Kwon + Jiwon Shin, Shinjung Ryu, Christopher Zamora, Carlo Gabuco, Mike Adrao

NEAR Artists: Joe Geraldo and Israel Gonzales

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.