Pinoy printmakers go back to basics, so to speak and return to works on paper.
Paper, for all its apparent and perceived weakness and disposability, has endured through many of humanity’s technological and philosophical shifts. Paper manifested and propagated human knowledge and expression. The humble and sturdy paper has been a testament of endurance and versatility. In cartography, where lines are drawn and warfare erupts, the paper played hosts to the shifting geographies in history. In recording the myriad trajectories of human progress and accomplishment and, on the other side, denigration and regression, the paper bore witness to unfolding and emerging histories such as to relay lessons for the future. In even simpler and personal tones, the paper holds sway over jotted down memories, frustrations in journals, and even scrawled prayers are heaped upon it to be folded and inserted into cracks.
As such, the paper never gets lost in the cracks so to speak, even with the dangers of it being disposed of or at least ignored in the contemporary world. In the digital turn of communication, paper use is seen to be dwindling, a vestige of an old order. In the fickle and cynical art market route, works on paper are seen as less valuable compared to art works rendered on canvas, on wood, and other more “sturdier” materials.
The members of the Association of Pinoy printmakers took to task not just to pay homage to the paper, but also to prove the naysayers wrong. In their group exhibit entitled Papers and Layers, the printmakers prove that the paper is not a bland, flat plane, but an object of fascination, reification, re-configuration. The printmaking tradition owes its very existence to the paper. Yet, the participating printmakers do not focus on drab tradition. Instead, in their deft hands, they render the paper as anything but beige and disposable.
The printmakers engage with paper for its structural capacity and challenge the notion of the material’s perceived impermanence. The “layers” invoked in the exhibit are added nuances and details that change the planar from a blank sheet into the depository of expressions, emotions, and even incantations. The act of printmaking literally adds layers of ink that are pressed on to the paper to generate, mark, and transfer images.
In this exhibit, the “layers” aspect are niftily deployed by the printmakers in their avenues of expressions, be it in current political skirmishes, or exploration of the body, the self. In the basic sense, the works on paper here are in many degrees are like journal entries navigating through the tense contemporary demands and upheavals. From representations of the body and place to the pulsating abstractions that attempt to render time and emotion, the paper is the paramount key to transmit such complexities.
In this exhibition, the notion of value and worth are not translated to shrill monetary entanglements for collectors, but are invoked by the printmakers’ adoration for the material of paper. Not just its tactility of surface, the thickness of its weight, but the many possibilities one can play with the humble paper. This marks its very endurance that can still thrive and cannot be easily torn away from vaulted and emergent artists. It is not the notion of its impermanence that should be taken into consideration, but paper will always have prominence and, in many instances, preeminence in visual art.
Papers and Layers runs until Sept. 25 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Second Floor Hallway Gallery and Little Theater Lobby.
Participating artists include Ambie Abano, Buen Abrigo, Virgilio Aviado, Mars Bugaoan, Mica Cabildo, Benjie Torrado Cabrera, Kristen Cain, Salvador Ching, Joey Cobcobo, Jean Dee, Fil Delacruz, Janos Delacruz, Neil Doloricon, Noell EL Farol, Samantha Feleo, Jess Flores, Raul Isidro, Eugene Jarque, Lea Lim, Lenore RS Lim, Angelo Magno, Fara Manuel, Maja Markovic, Ged Merino, Jonathan Olazo, Renan Ortiz, Henrielle Pagkaliwangan, Rhoda Recto, Jun-Jun Sta. Ana, Suchin Teoh, Josephine Turalba, Wesley Valenzuela and the author.
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