Let’s remove our masks, be real, and be free

The poster of Unmasked.

The 24th of June was a day to celebrate for it was a day where 21 artists converged and launched an exhibit entitled Unmasked. The art hub, The Artologist never failed to impress me in putting up shows that tickle the mind, touch the heart, and disturb the silence of one’s soul.

Melbourne Aquino, Cezar Arro, Emmanuel Nim, J. R. Ledesma, Jerry Buccat, Cyril Turao, Art Lozano, James Salarda, Irish Glori Galon, Darwin Guevarra, Mark Nativo, Jay Pasaporte, Bostaph Albert Aguilar, Richard de la Cruz, Jojo Ramirez, Roedil Geraldo, Alfonso Dato, Fitz Herrera, Alfredo Dato, Herwin Buccat, and Richard Buxani have decided to get “naked.” Naked, as they unmasked themselves, telling the world their views about popular icons, eclectic artists, the banal things, and about their own madness, dilemma, and sometimes, fear and loneliness and dreams.

It is an interesting show for each work has its own unique character, just like their creators.

Aquino’s King Ina is both a curse and a reverence. It is a curse, for it is a derogatory remark in Filipino. It is also a form of reverence for it honors, in one way or another, the vulva and the womb, where all of us came from.

Turao’s Home, brings that melancholic memories of what you call your nook, your place, your nest. More than a house or a building home, as they say, is where your heart is. The thing is, “where is your heart?”

Arro’s Far Out Series is not only a collection of vague images; they were memories which linger. Memories, most of the time, have their own face—lovely, ugly, full or void of emotions. It depends on how you remember them, or how did you forget them.

Devil May Care, an animal skull, is reminiscent of the desert where Jesus was tempted by the devil. If thou art the Son of God, make these stones into bread, says the Fallen. But Jesus didn’t cower. Not hunger or thirst that he would do such a thing—to betray the Divine that resides in him and in everybody’s soul.

Buxani’s works are interesting, too when it comes to message and form—Pride and Balatkayo (Disguise in English).

While I favor Aquino’s and Galon’s work, I can’t help myself to include in the list of my favorites, Guevarra’s Cart Series Solo 2. I have to admit, when I saw this work—I fell in love with it, not because I love steam punk art, but I love the macabre—but not the gory ones, unless finely executed.

But don’t get this writer wrong. I love all the works, but sometimes, we are playing favorites; just like you favor chocolates more than chips and chicharon more than lechon. But you both love them. And by saying so, I will say that I love de la Cruz’s Potentate of the Realm, too for I am a fan of Eastern art, with its all mysteries, magic, and symbolism. And so the works of Lozano (Nature Heals).

The artist from General Santos City, in Mindanao, has shown his “magical” side with his Evanescence. This reminds us that everything, including physical beauty, is just temporary. However, what linger are the goodness of heart and the kindness of your soul.

In the same way that the images of Wang od (Dato), Dali (Nativo), and Lennon of the Beatles (Aguilar), were gentle reminders that ordinary people can do great things. Wang Od, the legendary mambabatok or traditional tattoo artist in the Cordilleras, in herself, was a visionary; and her visions were, somehow, immortalized in the tattoos that she creates for other people. And so are Dali, the rebellious, the interesting, character in the arts, who is also surreal himself (so is his art), and Lennon who taught us to imagine a world without religion, without heaven, without hell.

Inversa (Ramirez), Serenity (Ledesma), Imposing Feeling #2 (Herrera), The Melting Dreams (Geraldo) also convey interesting and deep messages—be yourself. Unmask yourself and never wear any disguise, unless it is needed; for living in truth is the one will make you absolutely free, though this may seem so impossible with the kind of world we are living right now.

Other interesting pieces in the exhibit are Buccat’s Desecration of Sanctuary and Unseen Beauty of Paradise.   Actually, all of them are interesting and nice.

Artists are prophets and visionaries, as well as historians and antiquarians. They were prophets and visionaries for they have been able to perceive, at least, in their thoughts the things that might happen in the future. They were historians and antiquarians for they keep the collective and individual memories alive on their canvases, and then “peddle” them to their audience as for them not to forget the lessons of their past. Ang di-marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay di-makararating sa paroroonan, says an old Tagalog proverb.

Actually, some of the works hanging on the walls of The Artologist gallery that night were connected to their own pasts—tragic or not; sweet or bitter, and to their present, and perhaps, to their future. What may be the taste of their pasts, it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that they taught a lesson or two; and those lessons have made them stronger or more sensitive, in one way or another, and made them walk forward.

And that night, I  have met visionaries and historians and magicians, but most importantly, I have met real people, without their disguise. They may curse, get drunk, or commit terrible mistakes – but at least, they were real.

N. B. The show runs until July 8, 2017. But according to the gallery owners, they might extend the show’s date. Moreover, my apologies to the works that I have failed to mention. I will just make it up to you, guys. Nevertheless, enjoy. (Updated 30 June 2017)




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