• Start

    08 December 2010
  • End

    29 December 2010
  • Artists

    Alab Pagarigan, Bo Cumagun, Mervy Pueblo, Noell El Farol, Renato Ong

  • Venue

    Altro Mondo - Arte Contemporanea, 3/F Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati City
Tropes, in the simplest sense, are idiomatic turns of phrase used to expand, split, or fuse meanings. These lexical plays provide language with a significant amount of sophistication and at times, a fairly entertaining deal of confusion. In a border scope, tropes are also specific approaches to a subject that reframe meaning by manner of interpretive shifts in focus or by transpositions of ideological lenses, among others, a trope as discursive shift, as something more than an idle play of words, can thereby offer new positions from which a subject can be approached and understood.

Similarly, a visual representation of a subject is not limited to its facsimile but also acts as a mediation upon our idea of that subject, as a discourse upon it. This is all the more true if these subjects come in the form of abstract concepts such as death, creation, or nature. However, shifts in meaning and discourse, while effective in posing questions and alternatives to conventions and the status quo, must be equally subjected to close examination. Moreover, they cannot be reduced to idiosyncratic exercises of personal preference–a coy term that has acquired an undertone of unbroachable fiat in a society of fanatic individualism and insipid politesse. In other words, if meaning-making is to be meaningful, it must be collectively forged and interrogated by means of a hard look into their assertions and nuances.

It is with the intent of forging such dialogue that the exhibiting sculptors present their work in examining concerns informed by their varied backgrounds. Renato Ong, roughly described, renders hybrids of religious canon and urban folklore as he adapts them to suit our contemporary reality. Treading within the same broad ambit of religion, Alab Pagarigan takes to reworking the body as a vessel for orthodox tropes ranging from creation and sin to transcendence. Similarly, Bo Cumagun evokes the ecological conscience as he fashions bodies caught in different degrees of emergence, regeneration, and internal conflict. Noell El Farol takes from his work with archaeological reconstructions as he synthesizes evidential proofs with fiction in order to home in one the fragmented character and tenuous processes of knowledge production. This contrasts with Mervy Pueblo’s more intuitive and formal strategies in tackling related domains of suspended cognition by means of presenting objects in abstract and transitional states.

Weaving in and out of representational conventions, the exhibit works are alternately playful and severe, with some taking more literal turns in their figurations as others rely more on symbolism and suggested form. While the diversity of subjects pitches wide, it is counterpointed by a shared tendency for tackling abstracts and universals. The works collected here are efforts to alter, reinforce, or otherwise negotiate our conceptions of ecology, the body, memory, and mythology, to mention a mere few. This unifying leitmotif iterates the exhibition’s invitation for dialogue and a closer inspection of concepts that penetrate our individual lives and inform our collective experience.


— Antares Bartolome