We Wear Clothes

  • Start

    13 June 2014
  • End

    04 July 2014
  • Artists

    Adeodatus Sta. Juana, Carlo Aranton

  • Venue

    Altro Mondo · Arte Contemporanea
    3rd Level, Greenbelt 5,
    Ayala Center, Makati City
    1228 Philippines
The Self in Sprues and SampayansIt has been said that “clothing” was, once upon a time, a driving force for evolution. It’s a fair assumption – prehistoric migrations did lead to our ancestors experiencing harsher climates, thus leading the first caveman (or cavewoman) fashionista to realize that animal pelts kept one warm during winter time. Our species owes much of the privilege of being able to populate the globe to clothing.As much as it has arguably evolved us, mankind in turn evolves its context. Ages pass and necessity becomes muddled with concepts like comfort, practicality and aesthetic. Time has given it the power to impose complex ideas upon itself. It has even evolved into an art form in itself, and in this case, the subject of another. In the exhibition “We Wear Clothes,” Carlo Aranton and Adeo Sta. Juana share their contemplations and afterthoughts on society’s relationship with clothing.

Despite changing contexts, clothing has retained its massive influence on our race. For example, the effects may not be as obvious as man’s differences in skin color, but certainly the status associated with what one adorns himself with has had great effects on how political borders have been drawn. Aranton sets his eyes upon the different motivations that drive what vestments we don and the different meanings society attaches in doing so. His play is framed under the notion that clothes are man-made and mass-produced, utilizing the imagery of a sprue (the outer structure plastic components come in before assembly) to convey his message. A sprue is found on each work, containing several articles of clothing that define an archetype. His choice of icons is a helpful sampling of different cultures in different epochs – a Neanderthal, a samurai, an English Cavalry knight, and even a contemporary Filipino artist. Then his choice of what actually gets drawn in with the sprue is in itself a commentary on how one is defined by what one wears (or doesn’t wear, in the case of his Emperor’s new clothes piece).

Complementing Aranton’s structured imagery and analysis of what clothing projects is Sta. Juana’s painterly approach to the more intimate and spiritual thoughts it inspires. Both artists explore clothing’s intersections with identity. But while Aranton’s sprues suggest individuality as constructs imposed by a population, Sta. Juana’s use of “sampayans” or clotheslines as imagery tackle it as a more personal beacon of identity. He regards the sampayan as a “reverse nude,” evoking the concept of the human figure through its absence among the clothes. Sampayans are an undeniable part of the Filipino residential landscape, and like telephone lines in the city, they expose and delineate shared spaces. To the artist, the resulting public disclosure is an exposition, a step towards enlightenment – which is a constant human pursuit. Sta. Juana finds many metaphors within the sampayan, calling it a “horizontal totem” and describing it as a mechanism that “bares a people’s resilience in faith.” He employs visual elements to highlight his references to Filipino culture, such as using pixelated renditions to suggest its relation to the welcoming banderitas of the fiesta. There are layers of symbols within Sta. Ana’s works – even the context of his painting “Plaridel Exposition” hanging in the gallery speaks of honesty against a contrasting backdrop of fancy boutiques.

Aside from sharing an interest in identity, another interestingly evident commonality between the two artists’ take on the subject of clothing is a tendency to bring religious elements to the conversation. Aranton includes Jesus Christ’s most popular image in his dossier of icons, commenting on how man is able to clothe not only himself, but the gods and deities he worships as well. Sta. Juana on the other hand likens the sampayan to an altar, also finding connections between clotheslines, blood relations and sharing in suffering.

In this exhibition, both artists have come to ride two different trains of thought after a common starting point. They may have arrived at different destinations, but there is a resonant force that keeps these two artists in dialogue.

Carlo Aranton and Adeo Sta. Juana both graduated from the University of The Philippines Diliman College of Fine Arts with a Bachelor’s degree in Painting in 2009. They work on a variety of media from painting to sculpture. “We Wear Clothes” is their second 2-person exhibition.