BY JAY BAUTISTA | Of late, most of today’s young contemporary artists have focused themselves inward in terms of their creative outputs. As an observer this startles me and somehow question as to how much grasp do today’s artists have on the context they are into. Personal is sociological, politics is biographical. Indeed an “empire of memory” a novel of Eric Gamalinda once aptly titled it.
With recurring memory as the anchoring theme the recent two-man show “Attachment and Loss” held recently at the White Box in Cubao of Angono-based artists, Arturo Sanchez and Michael de Guzman however attempts to delve deeper into the pits of their sordid lives. The struggle not to forget yet overcome ones’ fears, ghost-like frustrations, and learned experiences, the true test of a great work of art is when one sees light from the grip of darkness to move on.
Revolving around fond remembrances, old loves and the excruciating pain of loss that persist on them until today, both artists used combined images of old personal photographs and used as reference images were borrowed from old and existing photographs then manipulated, crop-out or blurred as to represent a new set of meanings. So as not to ostracize their viewers they have devised certain materials like the “mirror” in an attempt to involve the viewers that their story is yours as well.
Arturo Sanchez is the perfect son any parent would have. To please his mother, he had to set aside his love for painting to take up the more formal course college. Now that he has a degree in Architecture, Arturo can now revisit his old love and maybe pick up where he left off.
Described as “gesticulation of figures,” Arturo Sanchez’s imagery is forceful to the point of being elongated and distorted. His imagery is his strength. In the series “The Absence of Beauty” shows you eight collage pieces with individual mirrors reflecting new representations from various alterations of the same photos usually deforming/obscuring what could be recognized images. The new signification and reflection of viewer both can be viewed when hanged. What enticed the onlookers more was the presence of a canvas painted as a mirror on the wall which captures everything and anything.
Artist-friend Erick Sausa, who wrote the artists’ statement, pointed out “along the course of his self-discovery of painting style through participation in various shows and scrutinizing art magazines sharpened Arturo’s technical perception of dealing with the aesthetics. And as his new works will be best described as paradigm to memories and amnesia” which can be only depicted on the large-scale canvas using oil paint and mixed media.
Meanwhile Michael de Guzman is said to be “pursuing his works to the limit of surreal-like and abstract images of woods and also digressional in photorealism that seems to be part of double tracking that most of the struggling artist can conceive of in order to penetrate the demanding art scene. The works he presents was mostly done in oil on canvas.” A son of a former PSG (Presidential Security Group) during the time of Presidents Macapagal and Marcos, Sausa noted that “the devise of grids he often used was also a conundrum of how the photo references can be interpret as the individual attachment of things being gone but to others are just a mere image.” The car shown here was a gift from President Macapagal and later recalled as their dreams were fulfilled with it, the De Guzman family tried to restore or even revived it to bring back what it was or what it meant to them.
Sausa, who himself is an artist of equal caliber, added, “Attachment is being viewed in relation to the existing object, portrait and places that the context of the metaphors is narrated in surreal or rather dreamlike representation. Loss is an extension of memoirs that set fixed in our subconscious and sense of individuality as long as we exist.
These two artists had grappled the physical and emotional upheavals for years of nurturing their expertise and with this exhibit they look forward to conquer both of their own personal apprehension and reassuring themselves to break new grounds.”
Not far from Angono, in the nearby town of Paete, Laguna, there is a dish they commonly called “sinarubot” where all the leftover food from the fiesta the day after (such as the menudos, adobos, and afritadas) are mixed and turned into a new concoction. Arturo and Michael’s memories elicit such kind of new found expression so as not to put their experiences to waste. A follow-up show could be in the offing, their next two-man show could even be the last perfect thing for them.