Liquid Series

  • Start

    06 February 2014
  • End

    28 February 2014
  • Artists

    Ambie Abaño, Chad Ypon

  • Venue

    Altro Mondo • Arte Contemporanea 3rd Level Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati City

Eroticism in the shadows : An Out-of Body Experience

Sir Kenneth Clark wrote a book in 1951 that has since become a canonical reference material on its subject. The title is “The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form”. He opened his classic study with a most enlightening distinction,  between two critical words often confused with the other, thus:

“The English language, with its elaborate generosity, distinguishes between the naked and the nude. To be naked is to be deprived of our clothes and the word implies some of the embarrassment most of us feel in that condition. The word “Nude” on the other hand, carries in educated usage, no uncomfortable overtone. The vague image it projects into the mind is not of a huddled and defenseless body, but of a balanced, prosperous, and confident body – the body re-formed”

A couple of quotations should be adequate to remind us that the naked human body was the central subject of art. “Beauty is the virtue of the body as virtue is the beauty of the soul,” wrote the American transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson.  The supreme master of haute couture Yves Saint Laurent,proclaimed,” Nothing can be more beautiful than the naked body. ”

Sufficient therefore is this brief background in our confrontation with the works of visiting New York based Filipino artist – indeed, a photographer – named Chad Ypon. On view at the Altro Mondo Gallery is a medley of photographs that display- in fact, artfully camouflage- the naked human body – both male and female. This enterprise alone, at once revealing and concealing the naked body, leads us to its various implications, also by turns revealed and concealed.

Ypon displays the human body not in its totality but in “fragments,” or in sections of the anatomy shrewdly cropped as to bewilder and tantalize the viewer. This alludes to the historical fact that many of the ancient Greek and Roman nude sculptures have come down to us in fragments. Would westill appreciate the Venus de Milo were its missing arms surface in some future archaeological expedition? Ypon, who works with models, on both ripplingly muscular and softly supple, trains his camera on ambiguous articulated poses. Moreover, he subjects there images to a digital artifice of designs superimposed on the naked bodies. Like some military camouflage – Warhol had used this device wittily on some of his self-portraits- this deliberate aesthetic conceit renders these human bodies as blearily abstract, more so when the works are perceived from a respectful distance. Too, the bodies are submerged in deep shadows, as blatant an act of concealment as can be surmised. Did these models feel naked, thus embarrassed, or did they revel in the fact that their bodies are transformed,by an art ofvoyeurism ,into nude works of art?

Alas, there is no evading the candor of Sir Kenneth Clark’s declaration that “No nude, however abstract should fail to arouse in the spectator some vestige of erotic feeling. The desire to grasp and be united with another human is so fundamental a part of our nature that our judgement of what is human as pure form is inevitably influenced by it, and one of the difficulties of the nude as a subject for art is that these instincts cannot be hidden”

Ypon’s photographs also lead us into the path of investigation between body and soul – the flesh and the spirit. Conflicting have been the discourses on the separation of the two entities, or indeed if one exists and the other does not.  J. K Rowling – if the name still sounds unfamiliar, just think Harry Potter – argues that “whatever happens to your body, your soul will survive untouched. ”Yet playwright  Tom Stoppard contends that “ I am not my body. My body is nothing without me”. And to those who have been religiously educated to believe that the body is the temple of the spirit, you may be flummoxed by the irreverence of your favorite food celebrity Anthony Bourdain. “ Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride. “

–By Cid Reyes