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.