White Walls Gallery officially opened its doors at Art Fair Philippines 2022 with two exhibitions titled “Visceral Ecologies” and “Upon a Threshold: Notes on the Anatomy of Art.” Both serve as a call to reflect on the changing times through visualizing a virtual landscape and pondering upon the path by which one treads before it. Comfortably stationed at the gallery’s home space, the exhibits span across two floors of the venue. One occupies majority of the first floor, while the other is perched on the loft area. The shows welcome a variety of both traditional and new mediums by creative visionaries. Pieces range from sublime-sized canvas paintings and daintily carved sculptures, to new media works such as assemblage, video art, and non-fungible tokens (NFT).
As the entryway showcase, “Visceral Ecologies” draws upon critically acclaimed artists such as Rodel Tapaya, Allan Balisi, Jayson Cortez, Kawayan De Guia, Lynyrd Paras, Winner Jumalon, Miguel Lorenzo Uy, Renz Baluyot, Tanya Villanueva, Natu Xantino x Renz Botero, and Tekla Tamoria x Nomina Nuda, to express the idea of a “changing world.” In conceptualizing the thesis of the show, curator Cocoy Lumbao poses two questions. Is returning to the old world is possible? Would going back essentially be a shift towards the new — with its altered systems, novel practices, and new concepts for what is acceptable or normal?
The artists were tasked to search for both the new and familiar, making and remaking worlds until they’ve found their own cunning bio-systems. This includes their own visual terrain, their own imagery, and their own renditions of “man and his environment.” The last is especially a topic which has never been more integral to the conditions we, as a society, face today.
Kawayan de Guia and Allan Balisi, for example, transmit their worlds through the visuality of other types of media such as print or film. By appropriating these two mediums’ aesthetic, they are able to generate their own. On the other hand, artists like Jayson Cortez and Lynyrd Paras have instead made these other media the subjects of their paintings. They explore the impact of the digital and the virtual to our psyche and way of perceiving things. Furthermore, artists like Tekla Tamoria x Nomina Nuda and Miguel Lorenzo Uy, embraced the digital as a container for their messages. In turn, they bring us back to the imagined and built world. The pieces then speak of parts working organically to create unique environs, which in Rodel Tapaya’s case, revert back to the folkloric and mythological. Meanwhile, in Renz Baluyot, they become the objectified and the material as part of actuality.
Then, there are works in which Tanya Villanueva and Natu Xantino and Renz Botero circumnavigate the whole concept for the show. They ask, where can the Filipino identity be found, if not from the everyday, the domestic, the laboring, the fantastic, the queer, and the imagined? The aim is not to serve as a chaotic melting pot of tastes, but as testament to the complex and layered, visceral source of identities.
In the end, these artists become instrumental in reminding us how returning to the world and re-establishing our relationship with our surroundings—whether socially or ecologically—are far more complicated than a simple portrayal of a fixed and narrow view.
The ground floor exhibition relays a concrete exploration of an imagined landscape through the collaboration of acclaimed artists. Meanwhile, the loft exhibition aptly titled “Upon a Threshold: Notes on the Anatomy of Art” provides an introduction to this plane through the visions of up-and-coming, esteemed artists. As a collection of narratives, the showcase aims to explore the intimate conversations on the artists’ origins and art practice in relation to entering an ominous future.
Situating the self at an imaginary threshold, reflecting on one’s humble beginnings and thinking of the journey from a point of origin to the present location provide a necessary reprieve. Jep Dizon, Kiko Urquiola, Lendl Arvin, Gian Miroe, Dennis Capellan and Arianna Bongato showcase complexities of canvas and paper portraits. Meanwhile, Genavee Lazaro and Kiko Capile’s exhibit a steady molding in their sculptures. Through these works, one may assume that traditional portraiture involves referencing representations of the self and the environment through familiar strokes. However, delving into newer forms of media such as embroidery by Maricar Tolentino and Eugenia Alcaide, the assemblage by Pauline Reynolds, and video-projected-imagery by AADA, shows a process which widens into an exercise of experimentation, going beyond the zones of what is expected.
As if examining the human form inside-out, the collection provides an anatomy of art, laid bare for scrutiny. By stripping down to their foundations and labeling points of interest, the artists rediscover the core essences of their craft. This drive, in turn, promises to continue blazing them to confront every hurdle in their way, as it has done before.
As part of Art Fair Philippines 2022’s assembly of exhibitors, White Walls Gallery’s shows are accessible both on-site at La Fuerza Plaza Makati, and online via Art Fair Philippines’ Website. The event runs from March 23 to April 1, 2022. For more information about White Walls Gallery, kindly visit linktr.ee/whitewallsgallery .
White Walls Gallery is a space for contemporary art and design and a catalyst for ideas. With the vision of making the Philippines an essential destination for the arts, we present and promote contemporary art created by established and emerging artists. We inspire passion for generating dialogue and appreciation for arts and culture.