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Exhibit demystifies power of Filipino superstitions to reverse social curse
"Pagtitiwala sa kubli ngunit hindi sa lantad" in Nick Navarro's "Disparatis" solo exhibit.
Art Cube Gallery

Exhibit demystifies power of Filipino superstitions to reverse social curse

Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - March 10, 2021 - 10:24am

MANILA, Philippines — “Don’t touch!” art spectators are always the first to be told when they flock to museums and other venues where exhibits are staged.

But visual artist Nick Navarro, growing up, had already been told by his elders to avoid touching many of their household items associated with superstition.

“Baka malasin,” they would say.

Like any kid, Nick was curious about these objects, and being forbidden from handling these made him all the more interested.

Today, he examines the power of superstition in "Disparatis," a solo exhibit that runs at the Art Cube Gallery in Makati City until March 20.

The show’s title plays on the double meaning of “Disparatis” in Hiligaynon – which literally means superstition – and the word’s Spanish roots – to mean nonsense, absurdity or stupidity.

“Ginamit ko po ‘yung idea mismo nung salita na nagiging magkaiba ang kahulugan depende sa kultura, na naikabit ko din sa paniniwala natin pagdating sa pamahiin,” Nick told Philstar.com in an online interview.

The secret of superstition, according to the artist, is the very people that give it power through dogmatic belief.

“Mahilig tayo maniwala sa mga unknown na tayo mismo yung may-gawa ng unknown, gusto nating maniwala kung ano ‘yung nakatago, minsan mas nahihirapan tayo tanggapin yung facts or kung ano ‘yung lantad,” he said.

To subvert superstition on its head, Nick didn't go the literal route by simply painting it at face value. Instead, he visualized the concept through the use of symbolism with objects that we are all familiar with.

The exhibit consists of eight works and a separate installation produced in the span of eight months. These include:

  • "Maaaring ang loob ay sumasalamin sa labas, maaaring ang labas ay sumasalamin sa loob"
  • "Hindi ba't ang pag-igting ay sanhi ng mga pabalat"
  • "Panuntunan"
  • "Pananda ang naghuhudyat para maniwala at hindi pangitain"
  • "Lulong tayo kung saan tayo nalulunod"
  • "Sa ating pagkabusog ay ‘di na muli tayo makukuntento"
  • "Pagkatok sa lingid nang hindi tumuloy"
  • "Hindi lahat ng binabaon ay nalilimot, hindi lahat ng nililimot ay binabaon"
  • Installation: "Pagtitiwala sa kubli ngunit hindi sa lantad"

For the paintings, Nick used acrylic but applied ground calcium carbonate to create a matte finish effect that makes it look like an oil painting.

He deliberately set his paintings in modern interiors to visualize how superstition endured into the modern era. “Kahit anlayo na natin mula sa nakaraan ay nananalaytay pa rin ‘yung mga lumang paniniwala.”

The installation, on the other hand, consists of items that the artist purchased in Quiapo: “‘Yung items na naikakabit din natin sa pamahiin, yung mga milagrosong mga bagay."

Nick philosophized on the nature of faith itself. “Halimbawa na lang nung pamahiin na ‘kapag natulog tayo nang gutom ay aalis yung spirit natin para pumunta sa lugar na abundant yung food pero 'di na siya makakabalik at mata-trap na siya du’n.’ Sinubukan ko i-extend sa idea na what it gutom tayo sa kaalaman, 'pag umalis tayo at makatagpo ng knowledge, hindi ba't mas nanaisin nating hindi na bumalik sa dati, kasi maghahangad pa tayo ng kaalaman knowing na ‘yung knowledge ay infinite.”

The artist sees local culture diversifying to the extent where Filipinos inadvertently mix up the beliefs of each culture to associate these regardless with Christianity. “Halimbawa na lang ng precolonial na mga paniniwala at feng shui, na siyang nagiging identity na rin ng Filipino.”

Superstition remains problematic in the present context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hindi tayo nawawalan ng makakapitan sa mga panahong uncertain,” Nick said, giving as example the misconception that drinking alcohol will kill the coronavirus.

“Andu’n pa rin ‘yung kaagad nating nabibigyan ng kahulugan o bumuo ng isang paniniwala kapag hinihingi ng pagkakataon kahit walang scientific basis or dahil lang sa "nagkataon.”

Art Cube Gallery is open from Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Walk-ins are accepted as long as they follow protocols like wearing a mask and filling out the health form upon entry. Only a maximum of 15 persons is allowed in the gallery at once.

For other inquiries, contact Nette Juvida at 0917-329-6273.

ART CUBE PAMAHIIN
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