“It’s Complicated”, a phrase popularized by social media, has become the catch all for all undefined and problematic relationships typical of the post-modern world. Seeing parallels between these and the complex relationship of the Philippines with its colonial pasts, the Lopez Museum and Library, in partnership with Tin-aw Art Gallery, opens its first exhibit for the year, Complicated on February 21, 2014 featuring commissioned works by guest artists Mike Adrao, Leslie de Chavez, and Ea Torrado, juxtaposed with works by Juan Luna, Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, Juvenal Sanso, Bencab, Ang Kiukok, Jerry Elizalde Navarro and other artworks from the Lopez Museum collection.
Mike Adrao’s charcoal on paper works collectively titled “Colony” comprise of intricately ornamented, larger-than-life anthropomorphic pillars and delicately drawn insects whose patterns were researched from the Lopez Library collection. Representing various forms of colonization our country has undergone, his works reference the interplay of our living culture and those of the colonizers that have reached our shores. Several of these pieces were selected for the curated “platform exhibits” representing Southeast Asian art trajectories in the recently concluded Art Stage 2014 in Singapore.
Leslie de Chavez presents several installations and paintings that focus on colonization, not just as the context of our history, but as an ongoing process in which we are very much a part of. Known for his acerbic cultural commentary, his works take a critical stance that aims to jolt audiences to reflexivity, awareness, and realization. One work in particular is created in reaction to the museum’s collection of Per Pacem et Libertatem (For Peace and Liberty) studies. These studies are what remains of a mural-sized work by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo commissioned by the American colonial government and exhibited during the 1904 St. Louis Exposition where villages were set up in St. Louis, Missouri and people from various ethnolinguistic groups of the Philippines were shipped and exhibited to the American public. His other works are likely premised on touchy subjects in our culture and history.
Choreographer and dancer Ea Torrado presents a three-channel video installation based on the frantic search of Jose Rizal’s Sisa and reflections on the museum’s iconic España y Filipinas by Juan Luna. Using Sisa’s search for her missing children as a metaphor of post-colonial identity, Torrado presents the search for the many desaparecidos and victims of extrajudicial killings in recent history as premised in the promises of modernity and progress which are both at the core of nation-building and Luna’s painting. This film is produced with the support of Tuchi Imperial, sound designer Chris Aronson, cinematographer and film editor Dan Pamintuan and the ABS CBN Film Archives.
These commissioned works are contextualized amid various collections from the museum’s painting and archival collections. Works by Juan Luna, Fabian Dela Rosa, Juvenal Sanso, Jerry Elizalde Navarro, Bencab, Ang Kiukok, among others, are exhibited with select books from the library’s collection and rich archive of colonial photographs, maps, travel journals, sketches and cartoons, including those done by Tony Velasquez (known for his creation of the early Filipino comics series Kenkoy), Liborio Gatbonton, and Mario Dangan. The exhibit is further supplemented by loaned artworks by Juvenal Sanso and contemporary artist Anton del Castillo.
Complicated is curated by Ricky Francisco and Ethel Villafranca. It will run from February 21 to August 2, 2014. It is presented with support from Tin-aw Art Gallery. For more information, call Tina at 6312417 or email firstname.lastname@example.org