The gap between the contrasting concepts that water typically represents in art and literature—life and destruction, tranquility and distress, stillness and change —is what artist and freediver Sid Natividad aims to capture in his first one-man exhibition dubbed Beneath the Surface.

Sid Natividad extracts inspiration from a very intimate, introverted experience. As he puts it:

“[As a] freediver, I have first-hand knowledge of how it feels to be in the ocean. I know how it feels to be deep under water without air, to be having to hold my breath for several minutes. Freediving allows me to fully relax, to feel free from stress, and somehow find peace. When I am in that moment, the hypnotizing pulse of the water and the quiet beating of my heart are the only things I hear—a sensation which I find truly amazing. Even if it’s impossible to breathe, being under water—the short, tranquil moments—is what allows me to breathe.”


Re-visualizing Climate Change, Painterly[i]

Satellite images fascinate printmaker Ana Verayo. This is evident in many of her works, including the artistic tribute she made for the Rosetta Mission in 2016.[ii]

Like her previous work, Anti Atlas is also a product of the artist’s serious fascination with satellite images. In Anti Atlas, however, Ana Verayo particularly draws inspiration from a 2016 satellite photo[iii] of the Quarkziz crater in Algeria. Verayo creates her own version of the image in order to re-envision seemingly ambiguous signs of climate change and geographical changes. She also considers Anti Atlas her response to one of the most pressing issues in the world today, climate change.

Ana Verayo utilizes a particular process that aims to produce instantaneous results, in contrast with how various geographical sites, like the aforementioned Quarkziz crater, are formed. As she has put it, “Hydrogen, carbon and cosmic gases take eons to form molten rock and trigger life from water, but I would like to think I can recreate worlds and my own land and terrain with these paintings.” To further describe her artistic process, she likened it to photo-printing: “…I prefer creating a ‘print’ of a painting from a palette—with an instant result like a photograph. My process would involve printmaking but not in the traditional sense. The paintings derive from a single ‘print’ so I simply do not add colors while I work on a piece. I prepare a palette which serves as my ‘print’ until I get my desired result; I don’t really know why I chose printmaking but I do like the idea of repetition or ‘grinding’ in gaming.”


Confession and commitment: An unfinished attempt to understand Caloy Gernale’s 'Cloak of War'

A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession.
-Albert Camus

It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.
-Albert Einstein

Caloy Gernale’s latest one-man exhibition, Cloak of War, was conceived at a time it felt most unsafe. Martial Law was declared in Mindanao. And the brutal war on drugs continues as the alarming number of casualties has already risen to more than ten thousand.

It was when it felt so unsafe to express one’s thoughts and feelings online and beyond. It was when those who criticize the most powerful get persecuted and demonized. It was when a thing as mundane as going out, dropping by your neighbor’s, or just standing on the street could be so terrifying as it could be the last time you are seen alive.

It was when the killing of Filipino children and teenagers has become so normal that not hearing about it on TV would seem odd.

It was when being poor almost inevitably meant death. The richest become richer and the poorest end up dead either literally or figuratively. It was when the 40 richest Filipinos were reported to have grown richer by more than 10% as the real wages of hundreds of Filipino workers had a depressing increase of -0.1%. Meanwhile, at least 66 million Filipinos were assessed to be living only on a P125.00 daily budget.  How can an ordinary Filipino family survive with only a hundred pesos?


Illusion as an Access to Reality

In Defining Illusion, four young artists—Isko Andrade, Mark Maac, Tony Mercado, and Rafael La Madrid—meet to present illusion as a way to access reality.

Illusion, which is often understood as a deceptive image or a false belief, has always been regarded as art’s (or the artist’s) shortcoming. However, scholar Lawrence Kimmel strongly believes that illusion can also be art’s powerful feature. In this light, Kimmel (2005) argues that “…illusion [is] essential to the coherence of the lifeworld.” He then expounds: “We notice and inquire into reality in the essential illusions of time, of meaning, of life. At some indeterminate point they all mix and mingle, collapse into the experience of human sensibility and perception. The culture of art is a reminder of the illusion of reality in life, and of the other side of it—the reality of illusion in our lives.”

“A reminder of the illusion of reality in life…”—this is the core idea that gives potential to the works of art curated for the exhibition Defining Illusion. In this exhibit, the artists hope to represent the usefulness of illusion in making art. To achieve this, each artist allows himself to be greatly inspired by his own perception of reality. And in order to illustrate illusion’s promising ability to frame reality, each artist makes the most of their artistic abilities. Isko Andrade, for instance, typically makes use of dark, minimal tones in order to compose hyperrealist images. Mark Maac, on the other hand, tends to create clean and detail-oriented, somewhat mystic presentation of young-looking women.

With his thick and heavy way of employing paint on canvas, Tony Mercado manages to create paintings that seem to breathe out a Renaissance-like sensation. Rafael La Madrid also uses thick and abundant amount of paint to bring life to the women that used to be only in within the confines of his brain’s right hemisphere.

Defining Illusion is a four-way attempt to look at and present reality, as reality is formed, perceived, and re-interpreted as a work of art. There is a clear boundary between illusion and reality, as believed by many, but in this exhibition, the artists take the liberty of marinating their perceived reality in the illusions they create.


Kimmel, L. (2005). Reality and Illusion in the Work of Art. Analecta Husserliana, 87, 11-25


Introspection and Didacticism in Ronante Maratas’ 'Sad Excuses'

Ronante Maratas’ works are generally psychedelic and introspective. At first glance, you’d think they are a frozen clip from the artist’s REM stage of sleep. Colors melt on top of another, shapes of various sizes overlap each other, and some figures gradually become more visible, more definable as you look longer. On the other hand, some figures could just be a little bit too vague for the eyes to decipher. Looking at each painting would make you think the artist probably had spent a long time inside his head in order to create a portrait of his insights—of things he would never have verbally disclosed to anyone otherwise.

And since each piece seems like a page taken out of the artist’s cerebral diary, it is in this sense that the exhibition gives viewers an excellent excuse to examine the artist’s intentions.

According to the artist, Sad Excuses is his attempt to discuss human’s tolerance of the wrong: “Alam natin ang tama pero pinili natin gawin ang kabaligtaran. Alam kong may mali pero wala naman ako o tayong magawa dahil sa takot na tayo ang mapasama.” This seems to essentially sum up the artist’s didactic attitude towards art. The way he explains his works will serve as evidence.


One Question About 'Can You Hear the Silence?'

“Silence, I discover, is something you can actually hear.” 
-Haruki Murakami (Kafka on the Shore)

Is the exhibition Can you hear the silence? an escapist detour or a critical interruption?

Silence, often being associated with indifference, passivity, or submissivenesseven death—is more commonly interpreted as a sign of weakness or an escape from the traumas of reality. However, scholar Mary Joanne Church Farrell* argues that silence, particularly in the context of women’s discourse, can also be a “rhetorical strategy” that gives agency to the person who holds it.

It would then be too easy (and insolent) to call the works included in Can you hear the silence? as emo-surreal-escapist type of art, considering that silence, which is and will always be an important component of art-making, can also be a powerful communication tool.


An Artist in the Age of Media Overstimulation

Interference is the second installment of Mark Arcamo’s recent works on paper, a sequel to his May 2016 exhibition called Static Individual. (1) Similar to its predecessor, Interference is a collection of black-and-white headshots of anonymous individuals. Each headshot almost feels like a copy of a copy of a copy—if not for the appropriated silhouettes, sharp strips and blocks of colors that break the homogeneity of the images.

The artist claims that the headshots are intended to convey what American spoken word artist and Youtuber Prince Ea refers to as “pageantry of vanity.” Like Prince Ea, Arcamo is perhaps also “…so tired of performing in the pageantry of vanity/ and conforming to this accepted form of digital insanity.” (2) Hence, the faceless portraits. It seems that the artist could empathize with the sentiment expressed in a Prince Ea video that went viral a couple of years ago (although Arcamo prefers to speak upon the subject of anonymity, oversharing, and media overstimulation, whereas the spoken word artist focused more on social media addiction and the current generation’s FOMO (3) tendencies.)


Ambiguity in Gary Custodio's 'There'

Gary Custodio's latest one-man exhibition titled There is an ocular precis of the artist's childhood experience. It is inspired by a particular time in the artist's life as a youngster, when relocating felt like the only thing certain. In the province, the artist recalls, life was not as easy as shooting fish in a barrel--and in most cases, it was unquestionably necessary to migrate from one distinct site to another. The artist then frames his abstract perception of this specific experience and offers both viewers/spectators and passersby a chance to migrate from certainty to ambiguity.

There, according to the artist, pertains to either the "undefined location" or the act of pointing to a non-particular direction typically by pouting the lips. The artist relates this to a common encounter in the past --"When I was very young, whenever somebody asked me where I live, I'd simply say 'there.'" And then he uses this particular experience to create an aesthetic experience that capitalizes on the ambiguous quality of art.