Arce's solo exhibit transports you back in time

Fort Santiago was the perfect space for this art exhibit, imbibing the art pieces with a unique old-world charm

"Art is long, and time is fleeting…" to paraphrase a famed line by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. And like the sudden gust of strong sea wind, this solo exhibit by contemporary visual artist Arce in Intramuros was gone too soon, way before people got to see and soak in on the visual feast that was “ROPED: The Reflections of Our Past, The Enlightenment of Our Destiny."

The solo exhibit by Arce transformed the ruins of the Almacenes Reales (Royal Warehouse) in Fort Santiago into a magical space where you can feel the ocean breeze, smell the seawater, and imagine yourself back in colonial-era Philippines. Great art evokes the senses and excites the mind. This exhibit is a paragon of that dictum.

Spectators inside Almacenes Reales, during the ROPED exhibit opening

Inside the ruins of the Almacenes Reales, large wooden frames were hanged in ancient arches with thick ropes. The art pieces themselves are huge, heavy, and thick with emotion and imagery. Inside the frames are more frames, invoking a self-reflective sensibility in the art—very “meta” indeed.

The antique frames, old wood and filled with history, are then overwhelmed with thick, textured paints, also seen in some of Arce’s works. Acrylic, gesso, and different hues of colors seem to be the signature medium of the artist.

The old surmounted by the new—the twisting, flowing, pattern-rich textures fill the wooden frames, creating an overwhelming imagery rich with history, feelings, and symbolisms.

It is a visual feast, to be sure, and the Almacenes Reales gives gravitas to the entire affair. The genteel decay of the former Royal Warehouse lent a solemn, haunting atmosphere to the exhibit.

Too bad the exhibit lasted only for four days, but perhaps that is the essence of Arce’s message as well— time flows ever forward, but traces remain, along with its souls and history.