Banggaan art
KRIPOTKIN - Alfred A. Yuson () - November 28, 2011 - 12:00am

So much is happening; it’s been such a momentous and rather turbulent November. We all seem to be going pell-mell and willy-nilly into some kind of… nope, not a cataclysm, an Armageddon, or towards a prophecy fulfilled per the mock-comic Mayan calendar, but… what? A kind of reckoning? Let’s not even go global or cosmic, let’s just keep to our, uhh, beloved shores.

While someone appears destined to occupy a detention center, and hectares that go farther than the eye can see seem bound for a break-up, the rest of us must weather the last Mercury in Retrograde phase for the year, which started last week and won’t let up till mid-December.

That means even more terrible metropolitan traffic, if you don’t know it already. It means a cornucopia of bazaars and sales and increasingly desperate holiday shopping, while having to transcend the contretemps of communication that might have some of us feint a walk-off from a Divisoria vendor two or three times more than normal, until we’re called back. Or not.

That’s how it is with Merc in Retro: two steps forward and one step back, sometimes vice versa. No signing of important contracts. Tampuhan, Achillean sulks in dengue-protected tents, lovers’ spats with the world if not with one another.

And yet the beat goes on. And how amazed we also are at the undeniable, continuing explosion of creativity all around us. Concerts galore, film fests, dance and music gigs, book launchings, and art show openings every single day! Why, a culture vulture of a retiree would be hard put to take in a portion of what is offered daily in our urban midst — that has to do with significantly much more essence of national spirit than congressional hearings, court proceedings, murder investigations, and a movie starlet of a single mother’s Caesarian delivery.

In hoc signo vinces. In this sign you will conquer. And that sign, that portent, has much to do with the dynamic creativity that now bids fair to be our birthright. Sometimes I think even heinous massacres and incredible scams conspire to lend a backdrop, a fountainhead, and enough material with which our artists and culture workers can “pasaload” themselves to significant fruition.

Ding’s Soliloquy — Alfredo “Ding” Roces’ “Soliloquy in Black and Gray”

Take an e-group I joined just over a year ago — composed mostly of topnotch visual artists and photographers spread out from Manila to upstate New York, California to Sydney, Singapore to Iloilo. Why, in the span of a month, happenstance appears to have dictated a serial convergence of displays of what this Banggaan e-group is capable of.

Claro Cortes, Reuters’ chief photo editor based in Singapore, came over for a week’s visit timed with Todos Los Santos, and wound up attending a fellow Banggero’s art opening, where they met for the first time. Jun-Jun Sta. Ana’s “Identity 2” one-man show at Avellana Art Gallery on 2680 F.B. Harrison St., Pasay City featured a thousand mixed media works on paper and a couple of three-dimensional pieces, some of which Claro dutifully photographed and shared with all Banggeros.

Congrats and kudos streamed in, with L.A.-based Rod Samonte, veteran artist of the First World and of first water, commenting: “Ang lupit, conceptual art na may halong Pilipiniana.”

Unveiled on Nov. 5, the show goes on until Dec. 3. Sta. Ana is the 2011 Avellana Art Gallery Tower4 Residency Recipient. In 2008, he was shortlisted in the Chicago Transit Authority Fullerton Station Public Art Competition. Of late, his works have been shown at the Center for Digital Art Los Angeles, in 2009, and last year at Capitana Gallery in Talisay, Negros Occidental. 

Jun-Jun Sta Ana states:

“I use replication as an exploration of its possibilities — of how patterns and new images form from the original, and how ‘programmed’ perception gets distorted in the process. It engages the viewer to probe deeper, as the portraits (or pieces) are never really what they first appear to be.

Rod Samonte of Los Angeles visits Ding Roces’ exhibit at Crucible Gallery. Photos by Claro Cortes, Alfredo Roces, and Rod Samonte

“For the unconventional portraits, the use of the subject as a design element to form a larger image allows me to present an alternative view of the person, without the usual signifiers of status such as apparel, body ornamentation, or posture.

“Another exploration is the replication of found texts and symbols to question intent and meaning. It becomes an alternative way of communication where the written form is transformed into an abstract idea.”

No sooner had Claro returned to Singapore than he found himself covering another Banggero’s superlative large-scale works. Dengcoy Miel, former Philippine Star superstar cartoonist and now Straits Times’ (and Asia’s) top prize-winning editorial cartoonist, partnered with old buddy Bogie Tence Ruiz in presenting “Pacific Diptych” at the Artesan Gallery. I’m sorry I missed it. But Cortes’ documentation of the exhibit suffices to convince us that here’s a pair of Pinoy artists who serve as no less than diabolical exemplars.  

Such are the intersections of Banggaan’s movable feast of comradeship that we often find ourselves crossing one another’s vectors at any given time. Dengcoy and Claro attended my book launch in Singapore, a week before Dengx and Bogie mounted thir exhibit. I’ve missed out on returning the favor, but these guys won’t mind. Too bad I couldn’t get together with Claro at fellow Banggero Ben Razon’s Oarhouse Pub in Malate. But soon, a couple of other e-mates will break bread and a single malt whisky bottle with Ben and me.

By the by, on a recent quick visit to the US, Ben had occasion to meet up with his fellow photographer and digital artist Mimi Nolledo and Zen Lopez in San Diego. Now we look forward to hosting the statuesque Zen, a former Bayanihan dancer, who’s spending time here through the holidays, and who will be joined by other homecoming Banggeros by January and February.

A Jun-Jun Sta. Ana piece?

In fact she’s here now, freshly arrived, but raring to have her first night on the town, at Oarhouse of course, haven for kodakeros, visual and musical artists, journalists, Peace Corps Volunteers and UPM-PGH medical studes. By the time this piece comes out, Ben and I, and yet another Banggero, premier photog Joe “Joga” Galvez of GMANews online, would have shared a Thanksgiving dinner not only with Zen but also with Rod Samonte, who’s in town to mount his own show soon.

Funny, but upon arrival last week, Rod wasted no time in checking out SM Megamall’s Art Walk. And what should he stumble into but the newly mounted exhibit at Crucible Gallery of Alfredo “Ding” Roces’s latest multi-genre works.

Ding, a Banggaan pioneer based in Sydney, couldn’t come home to open his exhibit, but Rod virtually stood as proxy. And as he exited the gallery where hung Ding’s arresting artworks, Rod spotted a familiar figure also making the rounds. Turned out to be the Heber Bartolome, music legend, himself a lurker of a Banggero. 

Back to Ding’s exhibit, it’s billed as “New Directions” — on show from Nov. 22 to Dec. 11. And here’s the artist’s statement:

“These paintings began their lives as concepts and compositions on my iPad2 after which they were giclee-printed on canvas in very large scale to allow me to bring these concepts to their final resolutions with acrylic paint. The gestation period in the tiny iPad screen is vital because this allows me to play rapidly with gestural forms in the fever of the moment. 

“On the other hand, translating the output into much, much larger scale on canvas gives me the chance to seriously contemplate these now full-blown images in order to consciously engage them in a conversation with myself, brush and paint in hand. 

“Working on the first stage on iPad is like viewing a landscape from a window; while the second painting stage is like entering and walking inside that landscape.

Rod Samonte’s “Spheres of Time 6” to be shown at Galerie One Workshop

“This two-step process is a dialogue between technology and the human hand; between spontaneity and contemplation. The final results you see would not have been possible otherwise. The challenge is to preserve the original freshness while turning playful thumbnail renderings into painterly studio compositions. In effect, I have introduced a new technological element, iPad2, into mixed media art. I pray the viewers will find these paintings original, alive, simple, relevant. My personal gratitude to Randy Young, Sari Ortiga, Chari Elinzano and Inas Amoyo of The Crucible and to Ross and Ellen Capili of ONEworkshop, for their invaluable assistance in turning my iPad imaginings into these mixed media paintings.” — Alfredo Roces 11-11-11.

As for Rod, his own, simply titled “New Work,” goes on exhibit from Dec. 7 to 31 at GalerieOne Workshop in LRI Design Plaza on Nicanor Garcia St, Makati. The gallery is run by another dynamic artist, our friend Ross Capili, who supplies us the following note:

“After over 30 years of artistic preoccupation with grids and repetitive patterns through his trademark embossed serigraph printing process, award-winning and established US-based artist Rodolfo Samonte will once again showcase his color layerings, this time on a grander scale — surpassing the limitations of his popular silkscreen works in size and color spectrum.”

Rod himself says, “The art-making process involved is similar to actual painting on canvas. As with traditional painting, I start with a blank page on my computer using digital software. Non-representational shapes and colors are then added and built up, usually in a grid structure format.”

Why, that’s akin to how Banggeros relate to one another — with Mario Mercado, Vics Magsaysay, CP “Tante” Tagamolila, Ed Labadia, Edd Aragon, Tony Ablen, Marne Kilates among the rest.

We’re an interlocking grid of yea-sayers and cheerers, supporting one another’s pursuits when it comes to artistic endeavor as much as with that eye towards a blessed life of fine health, positive vibes, the right plants in the right gardens, and ultimately that generous spirit of sharing that makes each encounter, each get-together whether on real or virtual time, very much like daily thanksgiving.

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