By CID REYES
What hath this damn pandemic wrought? Whereto, mankind? On the second year of the quarantine and lockdown isolation, when we are wailing in despair and desolation, hanging on to the last vestige of sanity, Mother Nature deliberately gets herself into the act, deranging a volcano and geologic tectonic plates into restlessness and a disturbed state.The nightmare prospects of overflowing lava and earthquakes toppling down towering skyscrapers in the business districts, and the vicious virus mutating into even deadlier strains: all these have become more than metaphors for the disastrous condition of our lives now. Indeed, this is reality staring us in the eyes.
At Art Elaan, an exhibition titled “Life is Soulless Without Solace” takes up the cudgels for our fellowmen brought down to their knees. Filled with exuberance and delight, cheeriness, brightness, and optimism, these works by Bayawak, Bell Sison, Cinos, Mr S, and Two Front Teeth. This preponderance of pseudonyms, with their teasing theatrical tones, hints as well at the need to play make-believe, a mask to conceal the magician behind the works. Like the sorcerer’s apprentice, these artists are veritable performance artists in the guise of Good Samaritans liberating us from the nightmare of our present existence.
Huge, soulful, saucer-sized eyes peer out of Bayawak’s portraits of innocence as if in the blushing stage of terminal cuteness. Bayawak channels Japan’s Kawaii aesthetic culture that has already dominated the world and globally changed the image of Japan. Kawaii simply means cute, loveable, adorable. Insistently, Bayawak is a burgeoning master at playing cute.
Like a wink and a nod at the American pop-conceptual artist Jeff Koons, Bell Sisons proffers shimmering, light-reflective, colored chrome sculptures of dogs and cats. Hot off the foundry, these glistening canines and felines exude their compelling playfulness and merriment, distracting us away from the misery of our lives.
In a snap, Cinos sends us hurtling to the opposite end of the spectrum, as a monstrous visage of grisly pink-and-purple glowers hatefully at us, the very vision of the virus itself, on a mission to annihilate mankind.
Still… All humanity may have been brought to our knees, but Art may yet well be our deliverance–our one true solace and consolation, that may well redeem our sickened souls.
“Life is Soulless Without Solace” is available for viewing at the Ayala Malls Manila Bay in Parañaque City. For updates, follow @artelaan on Instagram.
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