AR Manalo: From Kamusta to konek

THE PEPPER MILL - Pepper Teehankee - The Philippine Star
AR Manalo: From Kamusta to konek
AR Manalo.

The simplest form of question gives the deepest and profound answers” is what the up and coming, young, and very talented artist AR Manalo tries to convey in his latest series of works for Art Fair Philippines 2022 under J studio HQ in Las Piñas City.

His solo show is entitled “Kamusta (How are you?).”  Here AR uses a combination of recycled books (as in paperback novels) and carefully chosen passages illustrated by drawings using acrylic, charcoal and pastel to add more depth. He also uses vintage typewriters — something antiquated to give that nostalgic feel. He creates a harmonious relationship between the past and present by utilizing vintage materials combined with his modern approach to art.

I just learned of this artist during lockdown and managed to have him paint a portrait of one of my French bulldogs, Pierre. I was lucky.  Since collectors started taking note of his work in several group shows, the demand for his works has increased and collectors now have to wait to acquire them.

As seen in his latest installation, “In a Sea of Emotions,” he made use of books to symbolize all the stored-up feelings we have during these times of COVID-19.  He says, “The emotional aspect of exhaustion almost always is the last to be confronted.”

“The Correspondent,” “A Bottle of Emotions,” and “The Explorer”: Charcoal and graphite on vintage pages mounted on a vintage typewriter.

Looking at his works for this show, it is evident that he made use of vintage and antiquated typewriters as “representations of the person and the pages as the complicated answers to the uncomplicated question.” He adds about questions on his exhibit that “Regardless, no matter what one’s response is, it is the story of bravery — it may be our shield, yes, but it is also our sword.”

Coinciding with his solo show, AR also curated the group show of J studio Makati for Art Fair Philippines 2022 entitled “Konek.” Here, the artists, each defined with their distinct styles, came together with their interpretation of how their art becomes a vessel for connections. Artists for the “Konek” group show were Abe Orobia, Anna Bautista, Aldron Anchinges, Alwin Reamillo, AR Manalo, Bayani Galera, Efren Carpio, Ioannis Sicuya, James Andrew Imperial, JC Intal, Jojo Ramirez, Katarina Estrada, Naomi Mendoza, Norlie Meimban, Rai Cruz, Vincent Diñoso, and Yanna Guillermo.

AR says, “In this time of rebuilding, I hope that we also initiate the ‘Kamusta’ that will ignite that real and meaningful connection to those that matter to us — as in art in the same way ignites that connection to our inner self and outwardly to those around us.”

We look forward to seeing more of the unique and enchanting works of this young artist in the future.  He definitely will be one to look out for.

“In a Sea of Emotions,” installation art for the “Kamusta” show.

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Follow me on Instagram @pepperteehankee.


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