Nona Garcia
Carina Santos (The Philippine Star) - February 17, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – There is an almost tangible quietness present despite the enormity of her work and her ideas, and an unmistakable loudness that doesn’t drown out the silence.

Nona Garcia is one of the most illustrious names in the local art scene today. Perhaps most well known for her intricate large-scale paintings and series of X-rays, she has proven to be both a skillful artist and storyteller.

Garcia took a basic drawing elective under Alfredo Aquilizan when she did her schooling at the Philippine High School for the Arts, only beginning to paint in her senior year. After graduating high school, she went on to study at the UP School of Fine Arts, under the tutelage of Roberto Chabet. From there, she has gone on to become one of the major players in Philippine art.

For “Hallow,” her latest solo exhibit at Blanc in 2015, she primarily relied on machine and technology to create a mesmerizing display of X-rays of animal bones. The concentric circles of skulls and deconstructed skeletons were arranged in a morbid festive likeness to Christmas parols, and digitally animated in the same way. What seemed to partake in cheery holiday tradition turned out to be something quite different, upon closer inspection.

Coming back from “Hallow,” Garcia turns once again to painting.

Her special exhibition for Art Fair Philippines this year is a seascape. “I’m painting a sea of clouds,” Garcia says of her work. The large-scale painting, which she considers also to be an installation, is meant to be an answer (“or maybe a follow-up question,” she muses) to “Before the Sea,” a breathtaking painting of an actual seascape shown at West Gallery in 2012. “Before the Sea” measures 6 ft. by 20 ft. and occupies the whole expanse of the gallery’s longest wall.

Comparing her methods in creating “Hallow” — the first show in which she was entirely reliant on technology and machines — with painting, Garcia says that both are very different processes from each other, though both of which she enjoys doing. “It’s also just a matter of choosing the most appropriate medium for a particular idea,” she says.

Although Garcia’s work doesn’t have a permanent recurring subject, the pieces tend to embody a sense of stillness, regardless of medium or subject. There is an almost tangible quietness present despite the enormity of her work and her ideas, and an unmistakable loudness that doesn’t drown out the silence. Garcia realizes that there is power in solitude, and a slight and subtle tenderness, even in the midst of what people may read as clinical.

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