That Which Art Could Be
Yasunari Ramon Suarez Taguchi (The Freeman) - April 25, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — When Qube Gallery presented its first art show in 2012, the exhibition venue reframed Cebu’s affinity with the arts by challenging artists and art lovers to foresee what Cebuano art can be, not just what it is.

This month, the gallery harks on the vision that has made it one of Metro Cebu’s longest-running art galleries in showcasing avant-garde pieces by one of its forerunning exhibiting talents, photographer and self-taught painter Joseph Ong.

Titled “Filtrate” and one of Qube’s two featured shows for April, the exhibit is equal parts conventional and experimental in reframing the creative nuances inherent in portrait photography and traditional portraiture.

Composed of canvas-printed stills that are enhanced with Ong’s textured brushstrokes, the show essentially makes a continuity to the ground rules of portrait photography with the basics  entailed in digital image manipulation.

Treating his photographs as an underlayer, Ong re-details the compositions of the show with layers of paint – novelizing these as works that are “digitally manipulated” with the use of real pigments and paintbrushes.

As the basics in the making of portraits have long been loopy – at times convex on focusing on a subject and at times concave in letting backgrounds draw attention to the subject – Ong treads on the meandering twists and turns of the rules by letting various art-making techniques draw focus on subjects.

In a way, “Filtrate” exposes how Ong follows through the rules of his craft by consciously knowing which ones to break, and which stands by Qube Gallery’s goal to un-box perceptions of what is art to that which art could be.

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