Quizon’s Game


Alter Ego
For the living imagination of visual artist Marvin Quizon, it has always been the struggle between rationality and passion--a bitter war against maneuvering clichés—ever since he started mixing paints on canvas for seven years now. His third solo exhibition, Interception, culminates with finality what has been evenly fought for in his previous two exhibitions dealing deeply on positive realizations of pain and suffering like flowers emanating from a rubble.

With the extended lockdown looming at large, Quizon’s sense of time resulted in a moment of temporal unity for these binary opposing forces. Against a contemporary art scene of restlessness, churning out paintings after paintings in every auction, art fair or biennale that comes along, Quizon offers a pregnant pause of the sublime in these six paintings.

There is something in the midst of Bulacan that transposes a poetic element in Quizon. Even with a short distance from Manila, the allure of the province draws the melancholic and even recluses like him. The vast expanse of the remaining rice fields or sudden change of the season—that misty still unpolluted air while cumulative clouds slowly parade—allows one to find sanctuary and immediately seek contemplation. This lieu seems much more conducive to creative people such as musicians, writers more so hungry young artists.

Quizon visualizes purposely how the mind and heart interchangeably return to their constant engagement in the self-titled Interception--a work on paper with three-dimensional cut outs. With radical and energetic determination, Quizon has roamed freely from that conventional into an internal existence of wonder and fantasy. Using tentacles to symbolize the enticing even teasing flirtations of the consciousness, Quizon philosophically quizzes the viewer how man can surrender to himself, give in to temptation, and ultimately succumb to overthinking in a single arrested development.

We are oftentimes hapless victim of our own faulting that we create our own tentacles that continue to rob us blind leaving us in misery. We are trapped by our own making or even our hands become the very tentacles that wallow us. There are times Quizon gets utterly torn as to what his mind says from what his heart feels although deep within he has already made up his heart. Shown in The Antagonist as it tips the scale for once with the brain overwhelmed by his tempting limbs. The figurative brain forms the subliminal octopus which has the ability to protect, defend, overarching itself to cling on something it focuses itself into.

Discordant Comfort Zone
Although everything exists in the brain our deepest desire, and ultimate longing is what our heart wants. The brain is physical while the heart is your soul. The fictitious tentacles envelope the man even becoming the man himself in Alter Ego making it the closest portrait Quizon can depict the blatant personified quagmire he becomes.

In Discordant Comfort Zone Quizon configures idleness as a solitary enemy. Lounging is a feeling of repose, a vacated sofa lingers comfortably while his creativity is held hostage. Done in raw sepia-finish, one is seemingly invited to jump in the comforting pillow-like palm of a giant.

Everyday reality has been distorted, exaggerated, brought to excess, dressed up and supplanted. Time Intercepted is evident to the mechanical call to order by a clock. In his profound solitude Quizon produces exemplary parallelism in counting an infinity of the little hours while painting in lockdown, he reduces the brain to logical rationality and the heart to its purely visual function. It is necessary to purge thought of all that is not in relation to ideas, ridding it of all the myths with which the senses overlay the truth.

Quizon interprets the uncanny in surrealist brushstrokes as Nature of Mind and Soul is a masterpiece rendered in a dream-like manner. In what he interprets as an experiment in psychological layering, found at the dead aim center is a man caught in flames signifying he is in a peril state of saturation. The confusion overwhelms him on whether to be rational or hear the pulsating beat of his heart. The resolution remains evident by the where flowers in bloom.
Time Intercepted
Quizon favors ongoing dialogues of strange objects into a new visual language. These explorations of incongruousness in existence are often highlighted by intricate details and unusual perspectives. Notice the brain and how it is highlighted to represent knowledge. It is inherent that we think what is right for us through where the light leads us. Often he distorts his space using hyperrealism marked by rustic finish and in raw and limited monotone palette often depicting his mood. Quizon is fond of depicting symbols, allegories and odd juxtaposes of objects. The heart is in a dim part but it still glows as it grows. Proof that the heart wants what it wants, it is the soul that benefits. Quizon has even left ample space in the foreground for the viewers to interlude as Quizon opens up the invitation to look intently on the canvas. There is an open clamor as the viewer could even get burned by his fatal indecision.
Compared to his contemporaries, Quizon prefers his slow creative process to be long and arduous. Quizon paints everyday leaving only a day to regain his momentum. He usually does rough sketches and writes his thoughts. He continues with unfinished studies as he conceptualizes further on canvas. Quizon is organic in approach that he usually ends up adding from what his initial studies were. He accepts this as his visual style—a way of surrendering into his subconscious. Sometimes Quizon ends up with a different yet more improved version of his initial studies.
The Antagonist
He then proceeds to photograph his references even edits them in his computer as he is well-versed to be. He proceeds to layer his oil paints how the way masters like his influence Rembrandt of the 17th century Dutch Golden Age does it. He finishes off by color glazing much like the way his fellow artists from Bulacan do theirs as well.

Upon careful reflection on his pieces, Quizon subdues his colors to suit his intended emotions. Quizon is an old soul at barely 26 years old, his commitment to his craft and his pursuit for artistic emancipation reflects within his soft-spoken character. In the end, he believes we can love completely without even complete understanding.

Nature of Mind and Soul

Interception by Marvin Quizon is an ongoing virtual exhibition at the Art Cube Gallery. It can be viewed through Art Steps. Log on to artsteps.com/download the Artsteps App.


Marco Banares: Notes to Myself


Takot sa Sariling Multo
The nation-wide lockdown revealed what people value the most—safety, family, food—necessary in that order. And artists, similar to medical frontliners, felt the strongest impact and their immediate impulse is to creatively react at their inner core putting their sentiments using acrylic and oil paints on canvases.

In the seven paintings comprising Inbox by Marco Banares, his first solo exhibition at Secret Fresh Gallery, he becomes deeply-disturbed with the ongoing covid-19 crisis while indignantly returning to his truest sense of realism. This time Banares eschews hyperrealist fantasies, appropriation and speculation that have initially characterized his previous collective output captivating his viewers’ and collectors’ appreciation. By spending more time in solitude these past weeks, Banares bared out his soul while intently reflecting, imagining and aesthetically innovating his learned values and basic character--first as a human being, next as a contemporary painter--as he attempted to make interesting ordinary and everyday occurrences.

One Day
In what could be his most intimate pieces in almost a decade of art practice, the framed parables of Inbox uses the visual pun of masks (derived from the medical kind) as a concealing device for many of his character metaphors. Banares does not have the illusion of waiting for his muse to paint. He lives the working class existence, painting every day--starting early in the morning and finishing overtime late at night. He struggles daily with his art-making in dignity for his family’s survival.
Being a father to two boys, Banares interprets the relevance of his responsibility being a father churning out creativity for a living. His Law of Attraction sets the tone for this exhibition. If one is positive and faithful to God one imbibes hope beaming with goodness. In a contemplative stance, portrayed is an image in deep thought pushing kindness forward as one’s positive deed will never be put to waste.

Banares has taken this elder role seriously, Kung Ano ang Puno, Siya rin ang Bunga is a testament that children become who and what they want to be as seen in their elder’s example since they have already seen the bad side of life in their own growing years. While offspring are young and impressionable we must already correct their initial wrongdoings. Notice how Banares renders his subjects in a tableau-like stage with the father disguised as a Philippine eagle--acting his part. On a clear blue sky, Banares has done a dual role advocating the saving of the Philippine eagle in near extinction; how as parents our stay on earth is also the beauty of the temporal.

Kung Ano Ang Puno, Siya Rin Ang Bunga
The Show Must Go On sternly takes his defense on persons with depression, disability and those helpless victims being bullied—issues close to his heart. Showing a boy on a broken bicycle, Banares encourages that they blindly pedal forward leaving and setting aside those who put you down.

The Show Must Go On
Time and again masks used in art have appeared in various scenarios for different periods. Most popular among them are used in protest or with surreal pronouncements. Banares use of mask may be similar to how one’s conscience influences one’s perspective in awareness. It may hide the identity of the wearer but for Banares mask empowers his subjects aiding his messages and simulating theatricality as an operative norm as he desires to put up a show for us to be entertained while being educated than visually preaching from a high chair.

Takot sa Sariling Multo reminds us to think before we act and warns us of the negativity of being a thinker-doers—people who are evil enough to find fault in others when they themselves are at fault.

Humility is something inherent in Banares and pride being the virtue he abhors. Mga Dunung-Dunungan Pero Wala Namang Alam sums up all his pent up emotions and takes a pun on men full of themselves, as if they know it all. In a fit of disgust our hero holds up his bare horns in desperation of hate.

One Day is his clamor for change. If one is disillusioned with the way events are happening in the world, we would just have to look through the eyes of a child and invest in the uplifting of their future. In the end, Banares is optimistic and this painting affirms this belief that everything’s going to be fine as long as one trusts the process. The clean air and nurturing foliage are signs of better days to come.

Mga Dunung-Dunungan Pero Wala Namang Alam
Comfort Zone is a portrait of Banares daring himself. More of self-realization as he was painting these pieces, it was a feeling of confidence and comfort that he was able to pull it through. For an artist to grow one must force himself to get out of his box and flex his muscles and explore his basic freedom to be a poet of the palette.

Comfort Zone
Banares was on lockdown himself in his studio when he was able to contemplatively probe and freely express the episodes of his life. Perhaps it can be argued that maybe he decided to make up for the utter convenience and sheer commercialism of his previous visual style that his isolation was beneficial of what painterly language he wants to return to—now he is at home. As plurality reigns in the current art scene, Banares seeks to be relevant than be popular this time--his two boys were watching him while he painted these.


Arel Zambarrano: Construction Ongoing

Calm in the Surface, Intense Underneath

A deep abiding faith on one’s creativity often comes in the most abstract of expressions and artists like Arel Zambarrano often turnaround something ordinary (this time from his workplace) even bordering on boredom they only know how—using imagination and available mixed media.

Aside from being an award winning visual artist, Zambarrano has always been a licensed architect. In his 4th solo exhibition, Flexible Nerves Zambarrano narrates how he found inspiration among construction workers, basic industrial tools, and architecture materials transforming them into framed parables using them to explore important themes such as joys, anger, challenges and inconsistencies through espousing our emotions, acceptances and resolutions in life. Zambarrano firmly establishes his personal concepts and creative philosophies--his relentlessness and inventiveness in the visual arts--in these composed and solitary pieces, as he addresses social realism in our most basic human condition.

The Molting Stage Will Soon Be Over
The contemporaneity of Zambarrano’s visual approach as he essays his art is in the simplest way possible not in complex coded language but in clear semantics of life: because he believes each contemporary artist should tell us about current life and the world we share at the moment.

Calm in the Surface, Intense Underneath represents Zambarrano’s 34 grappling years of existence. Greeting the viewer as one enters the Ilomoca premises, each concrete sculptures was prefabricated from his own legs. This is how intensely personal Zambarrano intimates his art practice—art and life are enmeshed to one another. Using fiber-reinforced concrete, he installed them upside down projecting grace and temperance as an artist amidst many contextual professional pressures. He got the idea upon seeing ducks swimming, tranquil and soft while arduously paddling. They are serenely floating while settling their survival underneath the deep water.

Boy-Boy (1/4)

Zambarrano has always induced the element of wonder. His materiality dictates whatever mood he is in depending on what he perceives be it blades, knives, nails, level bar, used shovels and rubber bands. Zambarrano firmly believes artists were blessed with talents, as they are expected to be responsible human beings first in society than the confines of a gallery. As his daily preoccupation with insurmountable work attending the building of two island resorts, commercial establishments, and even creation of artist studios whiling away his time, Zambarrano has found creativity with his industrial surroundings. This time he favored to prefabricate everything before he even primes his canvases and overlaying them with another image using acrylic glasses. Exposing texture he attaches bullet slags, burning leatherette and even pouring crushed gravel on his site-specific installation. These resources reflect the ordinary, discarded, unused, and broken materials enabling every brushstroke as diverse like the different days where Zambarrano worked on his pieces.

Purya Usog
These pieces appear as visual symbols of unseen realities rendered in pictorial rhetoric through cultural signifiers that only Zambarrano can comprehend their symbolical meanings such as knives in Artificial Hindrance. Knives have always been a constant in Zambarrano’s past exhibits. It represents fear and uncertainty which is a given in reality. He reclaims what is lacking in its aesthetics and mayhem whether he renders realist strokes or veers into abstract transparency of forms and solidity of shapes define the quintessential Zambarrano. One cannot be overwhelmed by his art pieces, often employing rhythm and harmony in composition his dimensions draws a thin line in between softness of acrylic glass and harshness of paint rendition yet they are carefully controlled and vary at certain points from another not because they are nice to look at but because they are painstakingly conceived in rendering. Double meaning ensues as Zambarrano is fond of diversifying perspectives.   

His paintings are also sensuous variations of collective narratives, memories and dreams. The fascination in rough-like surface in his works is evident in time. It is metaphorical in depiction of this world we live in as paralleled by a slowly decaying, human body that is deteriorating and will turn back into nature’s dust--our ashes. Consider Purya Usog which is his ode to his daughter. Not everything is raw and melancholic yet it is fear   conveyed on his positive vibrations on his daughter as trials and challenges that make him more human. He and his wife as parents on acrylic glass purifying the image with bullet slag attached through to be able see its real essence in our already gruesome and violent world.

Clinched Ethereality
Zambarrano moves freely inside the painting as he probes his inner self and explore contours and variations of colors, paraphrasing the mortal world and beyond in less fanciful embellishment or distortion. His thoughts and feelings as an artist are astounded in each of the four canvases in Boy-Boy and nine canvases in the Magnanimous grip series. They feature the images of common people he has accustomed to--construction workers, pedicab drivers, labourers, farmers, porters, fishermen, etc. He expressively painted each figure allowing them to stand out against obscurity. It is being overlaid with transparent acrylic glass etched with outlines of juxtaposed ants intended to receive numbers of actual bullet slags on informal frame which in turn holds the dysfunctional level bar. With the reflection of Zambarrano, magnanimous grip series portrays courage beyond social injustice.

Ever the grateful, The Molting Stage Will Soon Be Over pays homage to an early influence, Allain Hablo. The celtic pattern overlay on acrylic glass is reminiscent of Hablo's previous masterpiece, I am Who I am. Hablo symbolizes those first and second generation of Ilonggo artists who stayed awake when it was still dark in the Visayan art scene. Hablo holds a stature in Iloilo--how one can be commercially successful without compromising one’s art. Hablo has been their pride in Visayan art as seen in the rawness and integrity of his being an artist at the onset of his career. He chose to stay in Iloilo because this where the “creative war,” without the benefit of convenience or the luxury of appreciating their art--to survive one must tell our own stories from our own experiences. Zambarrano does not want to lose his bearings and keep his feet rooted on the ground. He continues to stay in Iloilo as the conflict surges.

Post Inner Torment (using blades)
One can almost smell his coloration in Clinched Ethereality wherein rubber bands are actually landscapes dwelling intuitively into his subconscious mind. His composition of colors range from cool to earthy hues, these are vivid projections of his dreams and aspirations. Skulls have always figures in Zambarrano’s iconography, they value living like a memento mori despite prevalent poverty all around. This represents the beauty of impermanence.

Given the current art scene’s infatuation with hyperrealism, auction-bound, emo-ridden parlance, Flexible Nerves has an in-your-face realism coming at you. Against the hushed solitude of Ilomoca, Zambarrano’s pieces shout out loud and roughs up bad your composure. They may not be polite and pleasing to the eyes, he then proceeds to rearrange your sense of reality and positions to make you feel what it is to be truly human.


Noel Elicana: Firestarter


Finished Duty
Opting to thrive as a practicing artist in Iloilo, eluding far off the imperial art center on purpose, is not about sheer luck or burgeoning talent. Blood, sweat, and tears are offered on a daily grind. As one physically labors alone the long hours, he must stay focused and be dedicated to perfecting one’s raw craft for the rest of his life. There has never been a secret formula for a struggling artist to test in; one has to make his own space and translate it to his own visual language.

For award winning artist Noel Magallanes Elicana--to be poor and homegrown--the art world may not have yet existed for his creativity until this day. And even before he accomplishes anything, he already looks back and acknowledges those who were there for him in the past. As Elicana flexes his artistic sensibilities, he extends his hand in gratitude to all his benefactors—those whose hand fed his mouth to satisfy his hunger to survive, replied to his queries and nurtured his creativity on the edge, continued to pat his back and held a light for him when it was at its darkest—paving the way of his imaginative path.

His first exhibit, Tayhop, professes this authenticity, discipline and grit before he pursues his uphill battle in the Philippine art scene.

Tayhop is that turning point in the vernacular—the act of blowing through a tube--when starting a flame on the ember in the tinder bundle until fire catches. Elicana belongs to the current crop of Ilonggo contemporary artists advancing their Hiligaynon lineage yet expounding on their own visual style. Tayhop is his indigenous analogy relative to all the inspiration, guidance, disciplines, as well as the struggles that he went through making him stronger, more confident and expressive as he is today. Tayhop highlights the importance on giving value to the people who paved the way for him stemming up from all of his misfortunes, drudgery and sham he encountered. And the exhibition pays homage to the people who created a dent to his life and eventual art making as he pays it forward. It showcases his tribute to his guardians, his beliefs, as well as aspirations. It tackles Elicana’s meaningful life changing events and childhood memories that gave his current motivations as an artist today.
When Day and Night are One
Being the only boy in the brood of three, Elicana was her mother’s favorite despite being the cry baby and an in born shy-type. He was barely five years old when she passed on due to difficult pregnancy and a lingering heart ailment. He and his siblings were adopted in Iloilo leaving his father to work in Manila. From then on Elicana skipped playing in the streets and matured early. He was even forced to gather wood in the forest during weekends to sell for their sustenance. He stared poverty on its face that he became numbed with hunger and got used to having only life’s barest necessities. Elicana and his sisters experienced a topsy-turvy progression of being adopted by various familial relations in Iloilo, some more painful than the others while his father worked in a knitting factory in Manila. 

Drawing positively inward, becoming more personal than social as his visual language progressed. The paintings of Elicana has been churning out what constitute as attaining positive wrought with values, exploring metaphors in artistic freedom, organic favoring lush iconographies, abiding religious faith in his struggle overcoming tragedy through self-sacrifice.

Engraved Yesterday's Silence
Against rust and mold-like hues resembling trauma with a hint of hope, Engraved Yesterday’s Silence is Elicana’s canvas of his “first childhood memories.” The white dress was what his mother wore while lying in her coffin while the smaller one recognizes his sister who only lived for a measly ten minutes. There was never a day Elicana did not long for them. It is barely a semblance as he saw the purity of white as a sign of hope one day they would be together once again. The knife represents how strict his father became after they lost his wife and their mother. One traumatic time, at an instance, in drunken fit of disappointment and rage, Elicana’s father pointed a knife at them. The three white eggs are Elicana and his siblings reminding him that you cannot hold them too tight or too loose as any which way it will break them. The good son that he is, Elicana may not have gotten over the scene yet he continues to love and respect him until this day when he is old and sick with tuberculosis.

A Father's Journey
His father has been recurring image for Elicana. A Father’s Journey is attributed to him who has been Elicana’s source of strength in his words “from seed to growing tree.” Elicana has depicted him as a fierce, over-protective, ever-ready paternal figure like a dog who is always there for his brood. Yet he is the most loving creature as evident by the flowers overwhelming him--as if Elicana praises him to the highest degree to no end.

Elicana’s prowess comes in his painstaking details. Notice how he added white flowing lines as texture in all of his paintings. Similar to the bark of a tree, the harder the tree, the more textured it is. A gentle reminiscent of his familiarity with the forest gathered woods that survived him and his siblings. He did not join other kids and play in the streets rather he was holding a bolo and cutting branches from trees. That is why Elicana values every canvas he fills up to perfection reflecting this early work ethic.

Altar of Blessings is attributed to the seven guardians who took care of Elicana and his siblings in their formative years—his father, Uncle Ruby, Auntie Didet (Manila), Papa Dreg, Mama Celia (Jaro, Iloilo), Tatay Rudy and Nanay Mercy (in Oton, Iloilo during summer). His background depends upon the level of his affections with each of them, it is also Elicana demonstrating how he could be as illustrative as an hyperrealist he can be. This is the extent of his rendering of human anatomy. There may be no traces of facial renderings which Elicana veers away from stating the obvious on the contrary however he waxes sentimentality without featuring their facial representations.
Altar of Blessings
Elicana owes a big debt of gratitude to Papa Greg and Mama Celia, his uncle and aunt who took care of them as they were growing up in lieu of his father. When Day and Night are One and Finished Duty observed how they both sacrificed and often times taking two jobs just to fend for their brood. Oftentimes they barely sleep due to their work load. Depending on the season, Papa Greg is both a farmer and jeepney driver while Mama Celia who was a seamstress until she could no longer handle the sewing machine due to health reasons.

With this first offing, Elicana increasingly featured in a diverse range of realism and defying standard categorization of his works. He starts with raw brushstrokes emitting abstract expressionism before depicting his main image. Then he compliment it with supporting cast or meaningful amenities around it. Each painting is an experimentation and hybridization even blurring boundaries which is purely Elicana’s. His sphere of expression has become a breeding battleground that viewers can relate or re-appropriate to having similar experiences and one’s felt incident. Elicana is an innate storyteller and in his connived narratives there are no fixed answers or preachy sermons but only stories well-told and truth well-painted. In the end, his style is his substance.
Faith and Holy

Fire has always been symbolic to Elicana and a constant in his works. Even the title of the show is related to fire which has many representations to him. It could be his passion, or it could also mean in high spirits as eternal power in Faith and Holy. Elicana is a spiritual being, glorifying the Almighty God who he gives credit behind the wind to produce fire. Another staple in an Elicana painting is his fixation with keyholes as source of unlocking truth and imagination. For Elicana it is only faith that is the key to the mystery of living.

Found in the centerpiece of the exhibit is Enlighten which is about a big tree casting a silhouette of another tree that grew within overbearing with lush branches loaded with ethereal memories. As Elicana honored his parents, all the more he honors his forebears as well--who never got tired of imparting his valuable lesson after lesson as they aged in wisdom. This is evident in the flowers that grew from the branches. There are thorns everywhere as there are many challenges. The bones are reminders of our parents’ sacrifices. In a surrealistic urge, Elicana implants various molar teeth around as he got used to life’s struggles experiencing their gnashing dilemmas in between us. Mortal beings are represented by the flames and the burning clock at the center specifies our lives are ruled by God’s own time and not the rhythm of our world.   


Tayhop weaves Elicana’s concerns not merely as a conscious interlude of colors, illustrations and other media but as something that is originally perceived in his fertile imagination. His manifestations confront validation as his own inherent artistic intents and permutations stressing the value of spontaneity, appropriation and relevance. Establishing tension, solitude or equilibrium, his spatial yet lyrical pieces may be subtle or harsh yet both convey the sense of delight in his free reign of imagery and visual style. Elicana is proof that we do not need inspiration to create grand masterpieces. Your own struggles can be the content to complete your own body of work. And from the limitations imposed by that discipline breeds new ideas. In so doing Elicana uplifts himself so others can inspired and be uplifted as well. Tayhop is a kind of revenge against all these mundane circumstances surrounding our fates. And Elicana’s boldness comes from the realization that he too want to influence others. What is life about after all if you cannot do something of influence, like gathering fire to spread some more.


Don Bryan Bunag: Stranger Things


There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone, and some remain

In My Life
The Beatles

For his 5th solo exhibition, Sa Tabon, Don Bryan Bunag returns home once more. Picking up from where he left off in his first show, he becomes more personal and dwells deeper by capturing bygone scenes that reprise meaningful stages in his life.  

Situated in Bulacan, Bulacan, Baranggay San Francisco is what is popularly known as Tabon. It used to be vast expanses of fields where farming sustained the people living there. For the longest time, Tabon maintained its rural culture--which came alive only when a religious procession is being observed or a local carnival is set up--to mark its annual festivities. Away from his parents, Bunag grew up here when grandmother took him under her loving care as he was about to attend pre-school. Spending his entire formative years with his extended family and life-long friends, Bunag was accustomed living simple way in a rustic manner.  

Compared to his contemporaries in the art scene--whose fascination revolves around the floral, the grotesque and the macabre--Bunag does not want to be boxed in a format or be loud with his brushstrokes. His visual style may be academic with processes influenced by Titian, Rubens and Rembrandt, he prefers and is well- versed with fleeting moments and impermanence of nostalgia evoking silence. The ambience of Tabon sets this tone for the exhibit depicting memory with what was familiar and ethereal for this award winning visual artist.

Tabon series are eighteen scenarios--each capturing the meaningful moments Bunag got to spend around people in his most sensitive self and what was most memorable to him. He reminisces his time spent perched on a tree with his sister or on a swing while flying kites with friends; his riding bicycles, playing basketball and swimming in the pristine rivers of Tabon are faintly recorded.

His intimate bonding activities with his family such going to mass or being carried just to touch Jesus’s feet in a chapel wrought by his mother’s abiding spirituality can also be witnessed. Even how his grandfather brings him to school and taught him to play the drums are informally documented. He once saw an old farm with a herd of lambs sparked on him the dream of having the same space to take care of such genteel flock.

Typical to the young and melancholic Bunag he was often seen laying on the ground looking at the heavens—sometimes on a fence, in a bench or lying on the grass whiling away his time, observing the images formed in the clouds. His own quiet time is also impressed upon here—staring at a pond or looking up in the sky while imagining things--are mutely embedded. These were his initial manifestations of the kind of art practice he is espousing now.

Done in loose textures of impressionism, there is evident stillness in Bunag’s subjects--with only a hint of figuration involved—as if he leaves to his viewers to situate themselves in them. Only the truly experienced artists like Bunag could impart a mood piece, which is quite universal to the viewer, yet leave something distinct into them. Each work is anecdotal, rich in meaning and symbolisms--an ode to time and how it moves together with the heavens all at the same time. Placed side by side on shelves, they are like one long reel of film marked by Bunag’s own passage of realities. He has adopted filmmaker’s tools in these small paintings marked with cinematic aesthetics.

Bunag left Tabon when his grandmother died and he was a year short of graduation in 2012. When Bunag came back early this year he could barely recognize the sense of place Tabon was. Prodding him to question: Can one physically leave a place yet preserve how it once was in one’s own memory?

The encroaching vines and tall grass represent Bunag as he saw himself in the lush vegetation grown through time as depicted Tabon 1 with him in mind—a kind of portrait of Bunag as foliage. Bunag was waxing sentimental upon seeing how much Tabon has changed since he last been to it. Tabon 3 is a mossy testament to that--an ode to the last remaining lot beside the factory in Tabon. It speaks of the plight of Tabon it is purposely misaligned to connote much change.  

Tabon 2 remains the mysterious gate where old people were saying a Chinese lived beyond the wall from the gate. He was warned whoever trespasses will be killed. Until this day Bunag has not unravel if the story is just a myth since he saw rust already eating the gate and untended grass has embraced it--only shows no one has entered it after a long time.

After a well-thought-of process Bunag likely starts with a sketch—sometimes hurriedly as his hand tries to keeps up with his imagination. Then he channels them on tweed fabric. For two years now Bunag favors how acrylic is reflected upon it. A signature Bunag is the monotony of a single color--what was once sepia has now become more basic in charcoal gray. What is more important to Bunag is the narrative of the story than any suggestive hue.

Layering like old school classical painting, Bunag usually prefers water-based paints having started out as a watercolorist. He favors acrylic and graphite as under painting to glazing. Sometimes finishing off with oil paint. His work typically has 7-9 layers depending on the different tones of consistencies. Each layer has an effect--he wants it raw and textured in strokes in the end.

Tabon 1
Bunag relied most of these Tabon images to his memory since most of the locations he is familiar with no longer exist--giving emphasis on unmediated sentimentality. It is only now that Bunag realized he left Tabon but it did not leave him. He wanted to depict Tabon of yore in the sincerest way and most mature rendering since he started painting. He wanted a room full of memories and he has done that. More than the lost rice fields and pristine rivers he wanted to capture Tabon as a feeling, as a mood like a longing sigh or and accidental swoon, as if he feels for the viewer. At a young age he is already an old soul by how he has gathered a plethora of memories to paint them in a lifetime.

For now, Bunag is finally home—as if he never left.