Jeff Salon: Truth Well Painted


Battle Realms
For an artist the simplest yet hardest role is not to look away--to speak the truth in his evolving context. And for Jeff Salon the only time he deserves the truth is when he paints it. 

For his fourth solo exhibition, Broken Boundaries at the SM Art Center, Salon continues this commitment to reflect his settings and pursuit for the truth in our current social reality. Compared to his previous exhibitions, fiercer and more tormented pieces emerge this time--Salon is fuming, wrathful even.

The slow demise of nature has been a recurring theme that has haunted Salon’s canvases for the longest time. Alarmed at the rate we are tearing Mother Nature apart it obsesses him to no end. His most potent work is seen in Thy Kingdom Come. A swirling chase in existence involving endangered animals lorded it over only to be reminded of their distant mortal cycle. Salon’s valiantly captures the big picture show done in exquisite strokes with gusto and bravado; how a thing of beauty can be led to its wrath and decay in one fell swoop.

It is now considered a privilege to still view these threatened creatures in the wild and not captive in public and private zoos. The Guardian pays homage, as well as a glorious pitch for the Philippine eagle to critically survive. Discovered two centuries ago, this majestic bird, which is the biggest winged animal in the country, are the only 150-500 pairs left out there. Salon’s depiction of his lonesome self, perched on a branch against a graying background of negligence leaves an eerie feeling of guilt.

A complimentary pair to The Guardian is Cultural Survivor, which proves that there is nothing that differentiates animals from us. A lone indigenous Filipino caught in an act of defiance for their survival, he is a bygone reminder of quest for national identity. There is an urgent need to document their traditional and oral traditions in our fight against their perishing and modern day relevance.

Salon brings us to closer to various situations in depicting his take on our daily occurrences. They are often grounded on his personal experience and specific longing in behalf of children. Basked in golden brown with tinge of silver, somewhat like an impending explosion greets the viewers of his pieces. In Battle Realms against the scrutinizing eyes of His benefactor Salon wages war on many fronts—our oppressors, against clichés and what-have-yous in Philippine art. A hint of orange encroaching from behind to hint danger. Even in this very exhibition he has constantly honed while maturing in his artistic boundaries as well.

Thy Kingdom Come
Beautiful Mosaic provides a gentle pause yet turning the tides against colonialism. The colors or tempered of them are his signature hues are observed in the Filipina. Accented by a few reds in highlighting his message, our ongoing emancipation is defined by Spanish galleons, Japanese Tora Tora planes, and the American soldier. It may be evoking nostalgia but Salon’s art is anything but cuteness.

Recent issues have made news how foreign presence in guarding our shores. More than the old maps that documented our territoriality in our 7,106 islands, our sovereignty resides from our people. Our strength in safeguarding must be firmly in place. The allegory of nature evident in women’s bodies abounds in Shaping the World. How our islands are often exploited for their attractions mirrored in the curves of three women representing Luzviminda.

Salon’s realism follows a very abstract process in making art. Starting off by texturing his images with knife palette he then more difficultly illustrates on top of them. Everything is moving in a Salon composition, in a zen-like manner--no beginning or end. Depending on his mood he sometimes finishes of by splatting the already smooth surfaces. His confidence is key of his amount of pressure.

Specificity is another way to describe how each person is different and how we have our own peculiarities, belief, and are part of particular or imagined communities. Some features we can see, some you cannot. In A Piece of Peace may be as basic as a two-fingered universal symbol of peace but notice how rough and coarse his brushstrokes are. One can meditate on these experimentation this painted sign for harmony and equanimity.

F*ck Up Island
Charged with political acumen Salon abhors greed and hypocrites. There are more to be engaged at in F*Up Island. How semantics has ruled our lives and how power and understanding emanates for one’s anatomy to express. And they are even the hardest to demonstrate--the ok sign, clenched fist, number one, TV commercial sign, even the-holier-than-thou religious hand.
Now You See Everything

There is beauty in composed chaos that Salon depicts his pieces to convey his messages. It has always been about children and how Salon confines his purpose for their future. A child looks back to how adults behave worse than them. Now You See Everything proves we can learn more from the younger generation for our own realization. Depending how you much time the viewer has one can marvel at the Salon’s layered scenes.

Unlimited Being revisits his old style using his fondness for faces as inner canvases. Depending on the emotion on how his piece will be composed it is this foreground that immediately grabs the viewer. Representing freedom in flight, his star on forehead reminiscent of bright hope for tomorrow.

One may be familiar with His image but only an artist can interpret it on his own. In gratitude to His blessings Salon paints an enigmatic Christ in Resurrection. Notice how blood and sweat oozes from His thorn-crusted head. With Him in the middle of the exhibition space, He balances everything.

Amidst the crass commercialism of the venue, there is a certain solitude one attains after viewing the exhibition. An ironic inner peace is depicted in Salon’s artistic quagmire. Unusually the deeper conflict happens inside. Like a well thought of consciousness, Salon’s brilliance lies how issues are politically charged yet he paints a more serene scraping as a result. One may witness the goriness of the episodes yet Salon opts for a more resolute but unrefined way of enlightening his viewers.

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