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Young folks, new strokes

Photos by EVERYWHERE WE SHOOT, Produced by RAYMOND ANG    

If you think art’s only for moneyed, gallery-trolling intellectuals, you’re mistaken. In the thick of Art Fair 2014, Young STAR gathers seven exciting young artists to check out.

MANILA, Philippines - The first time you lend your gaze to art, forget that it’s complex. Resist the urge to analyze. Stand still and open your eyes. In the mind’s playground, the possibilities are endless and it’s those visions that these artists want to show you—if only you’d bother to look.

Hamilton Sulit, 23

Blanc Gallery

@hamiltonsulit, blanc.ph

Hamilton Sulit hardly needs to look outside of himself to draw inspiration for his art. His imagery may be borrowed from the world’s memory but the vestiges of the childhood he is struggling to remember are there on canvas. The pain of remembering is no match for his desire to give form to his memories. Figures and forms are painted over with details as though to imply that our memories are etched in our skin.

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“You have to be authentic,” he offers by way of explanation, which in turn we might understand as invitation. “It’s autobiographical,” he adds. Yet, when peering at Sulit’s work it’s hard to tell whether these are the painter’s memories or your own.

Ryan Villamael, 26

Silverlens Galleries

@cutfelt, silverlensgalleries.com

Ryan Villamael can’t help but stress over how best to execute his grand visions for his paper art. He’s always complicating the already complex task of cutting paper. It’s become an addiction, almost: the more he does it, the more he feels compelled to try something new, to raise the bar—despite the lack of competition, which he laments.

With meditative grace and patience, he sits, devoting countless hours to toiling over his creations. Villamael creates mesmerizing work while relishing the fragility of paper. He knows that tomorrow the material may tear, the design could disappear and yet he works at it anyway, as a child would if left to his own devices and told to create a world of paper where there isn’t any.

Luis Santos, 28

West Gallery

@lastcigarettes, luisantoniosantos.com

Luis Santos thinks about the treatment of objects and the meanings we like to give them. “I want to paint a skull until it’s no longer just a skull associated with death,” says the painter. It seems in art, we provide more meaning than the artist provides form and Santos would like to return us to wonder, to ponder the forms of the objects themselves.

For Art Fair 2014, he paints a distorted marble statue, arguably a reflection of itself on water but maybe more the illusion of garbled marble, finely rendered in oil: you can almost feel the cold stone on your palms. For Santos, nothing is as it seems.

Dina Gadia, 27

Silverlens Galleries

dinagadia.blogspot.com

At first glance, Dina Gadia’s work seems familiar to all of us. Her borrowed icons from pulp covers, album sleeves, comics and children’s books of yore are cut out of their pages and married to one another on canvas, spawning an infinite stream of possible mixes and matches. Her work is like cut and paste before technology smoothed out the fun.

Pop culture to Gadia is likely the gift that keeps on giving and as she receives, so too is her audience treated to a playful display of humor and witty quips that make her art irresistible even to culture’s casual consumer.

Joseph Tecson, 28

Light & Space Contemporary

lightandspacecontemporary.com

When he found himself in prison for a case he would later be acquitted for, Joseph Tecson wasted no time and taught himself how to paint at the insistence of his brother. He began with portraits of fellow inmates done in oil that were sold in galleries while he was still incarcerated. Later, his range expanded to include animals and objects all painted distinctly with deliberate strokes. He allows the paint to drip over the images while he frames his subjects tightly to fit the frame. Whether human or animal, they often wear expressions of rage.

“I’m still angry,” says Tecson before letting out a snicker. Having originally studied production design, he never intended to become an artist but art is, by and large, the reason why he survived imprisonment.

Julius Redillas, 29

Blanc Gallery

blanc.ph

Anyone who has studied biology will recognize the influence of science in Julius Redillas’ art. It’s a strange display of human and animal figures rendered carefully in watercolor but stripped down to their basic substance. Like looking under a microscope, Redillas investigates our insides and carefully replicates the flow of matter in our bloodstream on canvas. Anatomy books and illustrated encyclopedias inform his work.

As someone who makes a living working online, he notes that we’ve grown addicted to the perfect, often choosing to manipulate images and correct them. So, in the case of his art, he would rather deal in imperfections and see what we’re really made of.

The Philippine STAR is the media partner of Art Fair Philippines 2014. It is organized by Philippine Art Events Inc., and co-presented by Ayala Corporation, Ayala Land Premier, Alveo, BPI, Globe and Swatch.

Art Fair is bigger this year, covering two floors of the easily accessible The Link car park building between Makati Shangri-La and the Landmark Department Store. The show runs until Feb. 23 and visitors can expect more galleries participating this year. Christie’s is also hosting a lecture series on Southeast Asian contemporary art and art historical movements. 

Carina Santos, 25

West Gallery

@presidents, carina-santos.com

Carina Santos’ assemblages contain the things we always want to say to each other but never do. Books and what is inside them are central features of her work. She takes inspiration from literature so her pieces beg to be read, more than just glanced upon.

In a deck of 52 playing cards, she transposes printed images of people and objects from bygone years, giving them newness for Art Fair 2014. Her choice of subject reveals an uncanny love for history that covers both the personal and the worldly. Gambling on her own experience, she risks the unveiling of what she truly wants to say.

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