Tuesday, February 20, 2007


While emptying out my camera yesterday, I stumbled upon some digital shots that I took on a sunny Sunday afternoon last October. Ah yes, I remember it as if it were only yesterday. It was such a lovely day indeed. "Lovely enough to go for a walk at Luneta Park," I thought to myself.
And lo, what do I find lining the perimeter fence of downtown Manila's largest green space? Why, it's an art exhibition. A series of paintings done in acrylic housepaint on 8'x10' plywood boards. "Well done." I thought to myself, "What a lovely complement to my afternoon constitutional. Art and green spaces. A smashing combination."

Approaching the aforementioned works of art, I soon realize that this cultural display was an art contest brought to me by the progressive minds of the pro-life, anti birth-control people of the City of Manila and the Catholic Church of the Philippines. Oh joy.

"Wonderful." I mentally squealed. "Of course! Public Art. The most effective means to bring about social change in the third world - especially acrylic paintings. How dynamic. How relevant. It's almost a metaphor for the gallery itself as an institution. Paintings + Wall = Art. Publicly displayed Paintings + Public Wall = Public Art. Brilliant!

With such a wealth of creative expression before me, it was almost a crime to choose a favorite. But after much mulling and much difficulty (I think they are all winners), I finally chose three paintings that stood out head and shoulders above the others:

The first is "Skulls in The Uterus" (2006) Artist: Unknown for now (above). Mmmm. A gorgeous composition done in dramatic black white, the stark colors symbolizing the pain of living in a lonely post modern world. The words,"Let them come...Do not stop them.", written in classic script and slathered across the bottom imbue a deeper meaning, it's cryptic message fraught with multiple interpretations. Give this artist a grant.

The next one, "Baby Down the Toilet" (2006) Artist: Unknown for now as well (above) - is a lovely quasi-abstract masterpiece that took my breath away. Once again, like in "skulls", color was used here in order to incite a strong reaction from the viewer. It was truly a "look at me" kind of painting, if you know what I mean. In here, the artist's implementation of heightened scale and allegory harks back to an age when the painted image was the only means to document history. But all the classical references here are are now given a contemporary twist through his/her powerful use of the image of a baby...and a toilet. I look at this painting and I think of artists like, Da Vinci, Velazquez, and of course, Bacon. Give this artist two grants.

And the last but definitely not the least, "My Chained Exploding Vajayjay with Vomiting Baby (The Sonata of the Smiling Devil Face)" (2006) Artist: Unkown (above). This is a picture so subtle in it's beauty that I almost shed a tear. Yes. A tear. That's how moved I was. Centrally composed (almost mandala-like, dare I say) and executed with expressionistic abandon, this work has commandingly created a dichotomy of ideas through the use of an exploding pregnant woman (a negative symbol) and the presence of a candle (a positive symbol). If the Dalai Lama and Jackson Pollock had a child that went to art school, this is what he/she would paint for his/her thesis, a work both ethereal yet political, contemporary yet ancient. A masterpiece destined to ring through the ages.

I'm so thrilled to see that the Pro-life movement is finally funding the arts. So... So glad.