Christina Quisumbing Ramilo: The Tenacity to Stay with the Broken

Christina Quisumbing Ramilo: The Tenacity to Stay with the Broken

February 5, 2022

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By 

Daniel Lampa

Christina Quisumbing Ramilo, who is known for works that explore her personal poetry and reimagining of objects, opened her latest solo exhibition at West Gallery last January 27. Titled “The Tenacity to Stay with the Broken,” the show features works created over and over that kept her sane during the strict lockdown in 2020.

Better known as “Ling” in the art world, Christina Quisumbing Ramilo graduated from The University of the Philippines in 1985 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She had her MA in Studio Arts and Art Education from NYU in 1988. In 1999, Ling received a Video Grant from the Astraea Foundation, New York. Twelve years ago, she received an art residency grant from Valentine Willie Fine Arts in Indonesia. Numerous vital galleries and museums locally and abroad, such as Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Areté, Finale Art File, Blanc Gallery, Artinformal, Mo Space, Silverlens, and The Drawing Room, have featured her works.

Christina is best known for creating paintings, videos, drawings, installations, assemblages, and sculptures out of unconventional materials and found objects. These include construction excesses, architectural fragments, casts, recycled paper that people have discarded. These items have an essential value for her because they hold stories and history.

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Much like cryptologist turned painter Cy Twombly’s chalkboard scrawls, the red dermatograph pencil doodles represent journals of unintelligible feelings and repressed thoughts. At first, they appear randomly scribbled. As days and weeks of lockdown progressed, these became more organized into patterns of scribbles, as if written obsessively and layered countless times. It resulted in almost organized masses of red, which intensified in concentration with each additional layer. These doodles are noteworthy not for the information they bear, but from the aesthetic quality of the controlled, repetitive energy spent in the long period of concentration to create them.

Other doodles create hearts formed from drawn lines and circles. They form dots representing living cells, drops of blood, or even, with some imagination, sanguine tears. Heart-shaped sculptures, made from worn down dermatograph pencils purposefully cut at short lengths and assembled with erasers up, complete the exhibit. Inspired by personal crises, it serves as follow-up of Ling’s 2009 work, “Eraser Heart.”

Writer Ricky Francisco notes, “With her skill, she draws out from these often silent objects their stories; and allow them, in their hushed voices, to whisper memories, ideas, and inspiration, to those who have the will to intentionally slow down to notice and dwell on them. These revelations are gifted to those who have the tenacity to stay with the broken.”

“The Tenacity to Stay with the Broken” by Christina Quisumbing Ramilo is on view until February 19, 2022, at West Gallery, 48 West Avenue, Quezon City.