Show jitters
LOOKING ASKANCE - Joseph T. Gonzales (The Freeman) - June 14, 2020 - 6:48am

Mount an art show in the middle of this pan-demonic crisis? What are we thinking?

But that’s exactly what Qube Gallery is planning - with my active participation as curator, even. See, we believe art still has a place in the midst (fringes?) of all this frenetic flutter and fury. Caught as we are in this great turning point of history, a time when we have no choice but to reckon with all its impending consequences, a crossroads where mankind can be taken into so many possible directions - even extinction. Yes, indeed. Art has a place in all this.

We’re taking a gamble, mounting an art exhibit during quarantine. The world should be focused on prevention, treatment, contact-tracing, economic recovery, relief efforts, PPE procurement, and a whole slew of other, life-saving endeavors. Art might not be categorized amongst these, and might even be judged by critics as shallow and trivial.

But great and fantastic, even sublime, art has surfaced in the most historic of moments. During world wars and conflicts, amidst hardships and extreme distress, art has persisted and flourished. So nurturing art, and encouraging it, is but a natural reflex, an instinctive yet also deliberate choice we make.

For one, art is incredibly therapeutic, not just for the viewer, but the artist as well. An artist is allowed to immerse himself in the process of creation, channeling his innermost fears, emotions, anger, and frustrations into his outlet. Canvasses or sculptural pieces, protest pieces or love offerings. All these allow the artist a form of venting, respite, and even release.

Despite the lockdown and the hardships it has entailed, art allows the artist to rid himself of negativity. Art gives him the opportunity to continue expressing himself, releasing the pent-up urges and instinctual moods we are prone to when confronted with the unknown and unknowable.

And for the viewer, that art piece he sees can bridge that gulf between his own unarticulated emotions and self-realization. It can allow him to understand what he’s feeling, and to come to grips with it. Perhaps even to accept it. Or himself. (Enter the theory of art and healing, holistic therapy that combines the magical realms of art with the fascinating phenomenon of men who heal when exposed to aural or auditory stimulation.)

Art can bring the viewer a plethora of emotions, from amusement to joy, wistfulness and longing, and perhaps even loneliness or sadness. (I am assuming this is good art in front of the spectator, capable of eliciting, even provoking, emotion or reaction, rather than just bleh.) So that encounter between viewer and art object does have merit to it, some value not to be rejected.

An artshow’s raison d’etre can even come to as shallow as allowing purchasers to scratch that itch of acquiring. We know that feeling of encountering serendipity and being seized by an irresistible impulse to acquire a thing of beauty, or even as banal as to consume a consumer product. Who are we to deny the benefits that retail therapy brings? It might work as well, or even better, in an art gallery context.

Our art show is this August. We will reunite three young artists who last came to Cebu last year to show their wares: Terence “Trnz” Eduarte, Jepoy Santos (Mister S), and Rene Barrera. While their show last year was titled “Camping Trip”, this time it will be something more like a Quarantine Camp, where the three artists and their alter-ego character visit each other’s homes for a sneak-over.

It may just be a virtual show or an online offering, what with all the restrictions and with no certainty as to future regulations. But showcasing the voices of three young artists, with the potential to become amazing trailblazers in their chosen field, and allowing their talents to be given a platform, is something that excites us. As it should you.

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