Tag Archives: art

art + music by Emil Hofileña

Quick! ‘Jungle Chaka’ is Only Until May 27

The new exhibit from Patrick Cruz and Jayson Oliveria wants you to lighten up and laugh at yourself, for once.

Humor isn’t the first thing that people expect to find when they go gallery hopping. Most think of the experience as relaxing, quietly meditating while they patiently try to unpack the art in front of them. So when an exhibit like Jungle Chaka comes out, which encourages you to cut loose and have a laugh, some might be taken back — or, if you’re like me, squint in suspicion and try to overanalyze everything anyway. Needless to say, I should’ve just enjoyed myself from the get-go.

Jungle Chaka features works from Patrick Cruz and Jayson Oliveria. It’s a pairing that seems peculiar at first, but eventually begins to make more sense as you work your way from Artery Art Space’s first floor to second floor. Think of them as partners in a buddy cop movie: Cruz as the more no-nonsense straight man of the pairing, and Oliveria as the outlandish comic relief. Both play off of each other well, complementing the qualities that each brings forward.chaka-2This isn’t to say, though, that Cruz isn’t funny or that Oliveria has nothing important to say. While Oliveria aims to make you snort in laughter with his farting wizards and cheekily placed smiley faces, Cruz displays a subtle wit — most evident in “The Clock Is Twice Right” (a painting resembling a clock that, as it turns out, could never be right) and “Auditioning for Art History” (seemingly a jab at the practice of painting itself), which are dazzling in their busyness.chaka-3Meanwhile, Oliveria rises above juvenile humor by challenging our boundaries of what we consider good taste. Do the smiley faces in “Real Fur” and the thumbs-up in “Thumbs Up” sanitize the nude figures behind them, or violate them even further? Oliveria also rotates most of his works, laying a hilarious trap for the unwary: some people might end up rotating their heads along with the paintings, trying to understand what they’re looking at, before realizing how silly they look. Needless to say, I was one of those people.chaka-4The centerpiece of Jungle Chaka is arguably Patrick Cruz’s untitled multimedia installation on the second floor: a wooden statuette of a carabao walking through patches of cloth arranged in a circle, with snakes, spiders, and devils drawn on the cloth — as a whole, an accurate depiction of my initial confusion and eventual enjoyment of the absurdity of it all. Jungle Chaka is valuable in that regard; apart from being a thematically sound exhibit in itself, it offers an education in letting go, having fun, and stopping to smell the roses.

Emil Hofileña
Emil is a staff writer at Rogue Media. He spends way too much time and money watching movies, crying to Hamilton, and fawning over Carly Rae Jepsen. He believes all stories are worth telling. Follow him on Youtube at youtube.com/cinemil and on Twitter at @EmilHofilena.
art + music by Cedric S. Reyes

Incredible, Indelible: The Lasting Power of Mars Ravelo

How the Darna creator democratized fine art and left a legacy beyond komiks, as told by his granddaughter.

For the longest time, Maisha Dela Cruz wanted no one to know about her grandfather. As far as secrets go, this particular one proved to be tricky. Maisha’s grandfather, after all, isn’t just an old man; he’s also an institution in local pop culture. Mars Ravelo, writer, editor, illustrator, and grandfather to Maisha Dela Cruz, is the mastermind behind such ubiquitous local creations as Darna, Captain Barbell, Lastikman, and a broad list of other compelling characters, superhuman or otherwise. Ravelo has been called the King of Komiks, but to Maisha, he was just Lolo Mars. These days, Maisha spends most of her time talking about her grandfather, paying tribute to the legacy of what used to be her biggest secret. Things have changed quite a bit.IMG_6027Maisha, herself an artist by profession, never told her professors at the UP College of Fine Arts that she was descended from an icon in Philippine komiks. She was well aware of her family’s roots in the industry, surrounded by aunts and uncles that inherited Lolo’s talents. It wasn’t in ignorance that Maisha kept her professors in the dark about being a Ravelo because she knew all too well. In her childhood home, the halls of which were lined with crates of aging comic books, Maisha got to know her departed grandfather through the characters he brought to life in panels. From Rita, the mischievous little girl that jumpstarted Ravelo’s career, to Varga, a meek maiden’s superhuman alter ego and forerunner to Darna, Ravelo’s depictions of Filipino life opened his granddaughter’s eyes to the world around her. These same yellowing pages that littered young Maisha’s home would eventually become the contents of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts’ Mars Ravelo Early Works exhibit, curated personally by the freshly graduated and now adult Maisha.mars ravelo 3Inside the low-lit gallery of NCCA’s Intramuros quarters, Maisha squares her narrow shoulders and tells me in her firm, adjudicating voice that she’s her grandfather’s biggest fan. It wasn’t for lack of pride that she kept her ancestral roots a secret, but because of a nagging apprehension that she would never live up to Mars Ravelo’s legacy. According to Maisha, Mars Ravelo did much more than create characters for modern lore. Through his accessible medium of komiks, Ravelo extended to the common Filipino commodities that were normally reserved for the elite—fine art and literature.mars ravelo 2Maisha’s selections in Early Works show the man at his most political. Ravelo’s comedic and occasionally whimsical representations of life in komiks created a sense of identity and an urgent feeling of relief in post-war Philippines. This is why many of his early creations were more comic than messianic, making light of the mundane rather than saving the hapless. Through Boboy, a flat-nosed little boy raised by ill-tempered grandparents, Ravelo poked fun at the misbehavior of children left behind by their parents to work in a newly freed republic. Living up to Mars Ravelo, in terms of art and his contribution to modern culture, is definitely a tall order.IMG_6018In the decades since he penned these first few panels, Ravelo’s creations have been converted and repurposed for mass entertainment, providing the source material for generations of big and small screen adaptations. Maisha doesn’t mind. According to her, Ravelo’s creations were never meant to be highbrow anyway, always packaging unique and Western-influenced perspectives so that they could reach the most Filipinos with the most ease. Films make this even easier. With the upcoming Erik Matti adaptation of Darna just on the horizon, the Mars Ravelo fan in Maisha can barely contain her excitement. She confides that Erik Matti is the first adaptor of Darna to consult creative decisions with the Ravelo family. For this reason, viewers can expect the next Darna, whoever she will be, to not only be tasteful, but also faithful to the original creation.mars ravelo 1After going on a litany of praises for her grandfather and the creations that surround her, Maisha has to catch her breath. She’s certainly come a long way since keeping her Ravelo blood a secret in art school. But if the wide reach of Lolo’s other creations is any indication, Maisha’s just getting started. Ravelo’s legacy of art-for-all remains intact, and it’s being written by the likes of Maisha, children of komiks by blood or by bond. The story’s not over, and the rest of us would be wise to read on.

Photos by Kitkat Pajaro

Cedric S. Reyes
Cedric had the squid. For more of this nonsense follow him on Twitter at @cedritoreyes.
art + music by Yna Musico

The Resurgence of Collage as an Artform

We take a look at how and why the art of assemblage is making a comeback.

In grade school, my riches came in the form of back copies of Total Girl and Barbie magazines and Teen Vogue hoarded cautiously, then eventually stored in secret envelope compartments, the faces of Aaron Carter and JoJo smiling on Tiger Beat covers. Keeping those pages intact however proved a slight challenge. After reading through the magazines for what felt like the umpteenth time, a metaphorical light bulb flicked on and prompted an afternoon consisting of glue stick residue and slivers of paper covering my fingers as I placed carefully cut-out feet adorned by strappy Weitzmans beside a picture of shiny spilled nail polish. It was a feverish kind of hunt, looking for images from various pages. When Vogue couldn’t satiate it, I’d dive into travel magazines from which I’d cut out unfamiliar red brick walls covered with ivy and glistening sushi. The idea of destroying laid out worlds and creating new landscapes seemed pretty fascinating to thirteen-year-old me. Collages, they were called.

This medium, traditionally speaking, has been around since modernism reared its fantastic little head into the art history timeline. The art of assemblage already began manifesting itself as early as Victorian 1800s with albums being peppered with fantastic creations such as Georgina Berkley’s collage of a Victorian woman and child sitting on top of a giant pelican and tortoise respectively, extracting figures from their original black and white spaces into much colorful settings. Whether it was Picasso wrapping chair caning around his mishmash of painted media that would generally be deemed as initial spark of collage, or aging, bed-ridden Matisse holding up scissors, blades the size of a rulers, cutting through brightly colored paper that would make up the latter part of his artistic career, arguably no knows who decided cutting and pasting would create this potent new medium.

Untitled page from the Berkeley Album, 1867-71. Collage of watercolor and albumen prints. Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

This idea of hunting for bits to create personal imagined lands is something that echoes even in contemporary collage artists such as, Jel Suarez whose creative treasure hunt involves, “finding forms in details — the build of a muscle, surfaces, the fold in a fabric, the edge of a structure —cutting up and reconstructing these objects/ details in images may be very erratic in process, but oddly it’s also where I’m able to exercise maximum control.” To reassemble and make whole—now doesn’t that sound like an incredibly noble act?

Jel Suarez. (Untitled) Remnants I. Collage and photo transfer on fabric. 2015.

In the past, collages were seen as a way of lazily creating art that doesn’t require the technical skill of drawing and painting; the I-can-do-that spiel being thrown at anything that teeters away from the traditional. Carina Santos breaks through this stigma emphasizing collage as not just aesthetic but as a personal crafted narrative. Her pieces have penetrated physical gallery spaces (West Gallery, Silverlens) and various art fairs, enticing aficionados and buyers alike. “… it’s technically “easy” to make collages that catch people’s attention, since what it entails from you is to cut and put together images in a way that mimics other collage styles that already resonate with an audience, but I think what you have to develop are your own “voice” or style and also a way to say something with your images and not just making a pretty picture.” Art beyond just technique after all sings in the nuances of visual storytelling.

Carina Santos. The Navel of the World. Collage Mixed Media. 2013.

In contemporary media, there is a resurgence of collage as a medium. Social media platforms decorated by high impact images meant to capture the fidgety eyes of this generation hungrily going through headlines, opt to showcase collages. And amidst the pre-made clutter of photo filters and pre-cut collage frames, artist Pau Tiu believes that there is a craving for the uniquely crafted. “People are starting to appreciate crafted/handmade things rather than their mass produced counterparts. Collage falls in that DIY category.” Much like the growing support for slow fashion, contemporary visual consumers want carefully created pieces. “There’s this rawness in collages that appeal to a lot of people, maybe it’s because of the use of vintage photos, the surreal dreamlike storytelling or the scrapbook aesthetic …it will always have this nostalgic quality to it.”

Pau Tui. Untitled. Artists Collection.

For some it’s shaking up what exists. Think of images as that playlist you’ve listened to on loop for days on end. You aren’t sick of the songs per se, it’s just the order that looks depressingly dreary. Collaging becomes the shuffle button for the visual. Collage artist Maine Manalansan describes her play with images, “… There is a controlled sense of freedom in collage. You can do whatever you want, but with the material available to you. I love how it’s like a balancing act between the two. It’s good reminder that as much as we want to let our imagination run wild, we’re also only bound by what our minds can achieve.” And in a world peppered by machine generated memes, customized compositions satiate our visual wants.

Maine Manalansan. Work for Young STAR ‘To the Filipino LGBT Youth.’ 2015.

Collaging strips images of original context and places them into equally fitting ones. Revisionism isn’t the correct word to describe the act, but rather a retelling packaged in a language fluently spoken by this generation. Just like the craft of storytelling, collage-making can be learned, form and technique can be practiced. Collage workshops around the metro are just as customizable as the medium. One-on-one workshops hosted by Woman, Create through their School of Collage can be done in Ortigas or Makati, various days of the week according to your schedule.

Group classes can also be booked through Steph Pallalos who conducts Art Journal classes inclusive of collage-making by contacting her through teacherstephp@gmail.com. If you’d much rather learn from the comfort of your own home, on a laptop, sipping warm lemon water try out Sofia Cope’s online course “Basic Digital Collage Art Workshop,” being hosted on openartschool.com. Together with other interested creators, reassemble existing worlds to craft much more fantastic ones and inject new landscapes into seemingly archaic images.

Yna Musico
Yna Musico currently works among old paintings and attempts to read contemporary works in the Lopez Museum & Library. Graduated a history major, she reads too much about death and old people. Read into her subconscious through tinyletter.com/zebcrawtusle