Tin-aw presents Blangko an exhibition featuring senior students from the Visual Arts Program of the Philippine High School of the Arts. The second exhibition of its type -- the first, Lieutang took place in 2012 – aims to provide young art students the opportunity to work with commercial galleries to experience the processes of exhibition making and display. This year, Erika Abe, Neal Alday, Camille Cabatingan, Roni Reyes, Nicole Uy and Beatriz Villas, present a selection of drawings, sculpture, installation and relief works that share their ideas on the Self/Ego as well as urbanism, culture and tradition. Together they have chosen the idea of the ‘blank canvas’ to symbolize their experiences in high school, which have shaped and guided them into young adulthood. Now, as graduating seniors, they shift into a new chapter of life, equipped with the knowledge and lessons learnt from their time at PHSA in Makiling. As such, their blank canvases have been ‘filled’ and the exhibition represents their final and most developed ideas before they embark on the next phase of their lives.
Erika Abe, Neal Alday, Roni Reyes and Beatriz Villas have chosen to explore how we look, express and represent ourselves. It is a fitting topic given a social media age of narcissistic self-documentation and constant interconnectivity, especially for a younger generation raised on the Internet. The sense of self is therefore increasingly constructed and marketed, and concurrently judged and admired on an unprecedented public scale. This complicates the journey of personal-discovery as social behavior changes with the conflation of the real and virtual.
Erika Abe’s Selfie casts shells of her own face and torso but each with different surfaces to discuss the multiple influences at work in the formation of Self. However rather than an outright critique on narcissism itself, she presents a more forgiving approach that sees self love as a scale that can be both positive and negative depending on how far the obsession goes. Roni Reyes’ I.D.-K uses fragments or pixels to develop this idea even further with a wall based relief which is a built up self portrait made up of miniature ‘selfies’. Neal Alday presents Permanent Ink, large scale drawn portraits of pop cultural icons like Lady Gaga as well as friends, relatives and himself. Each are given certain symbolic icons like flowers, triangles and tigers that represent their unique personalities. Filled with visual movement, Alday is therefore trying to convey that we are composed of both innate qualities and lived experiences that influence and alter our personalities. Experimenting with makeshift materials such as packing tape and bubble wrap Bea Villas creates suspended figures in Striving to Be Authentic, which represent the conflict between living a life true to who we are versus societal pressures of conformity that limit our potential. Each portrays the existential stages of alienation and liberation during the struggle of life.
However Camille Cabatingan and Nicole Uy take different points of inquiry in their works. Cabatingan works with the image of the Kulaman head, an earthenware treasure of the Kulaman Plateau, Cotabato in Mindanao. Functioning as a repository to preserve the remains of the dead as well as cultural memories of the pre-colonial period she is inspired by the custodial nature of this object. This reimagined version combines faith and art as a journey from the metaphysical to the real. On the opposite end of time, Nicole Uy locates her world in the contemporary cityscape, but nevertheless still celebrates the creativity of Man. Her works shares mankind’s need for modernization and how progress can create dynamic new ways of living. Interconnected circular rings populated with various built structures and as such, evoke the wondrous potential and achievement of cities as both feats of design and desire.
Together these young artists present their various dilemmas and sites of inquisition whether personal, psychological, social or historical. But as they venture into the world after high school, they will once again, encounter new and unfamiliar territories. This next set of ‘blank canvases’ will be both daunting and exciting. However, they have been guided to trust their instincts and follow their curiosities, aided by their mentors and lecturers who all committed to their success. Therefore, it is fitting that this exhibition is dedicated in loving memory to the late Don M. Salubayba, who was not only an alumni of The Philippines High School for the Arts but a committed lecturer and tutor to many of the students there. Lieutang in 2012 took place because Don wanted to give his own exhibition slot to his students, in order to provide them with an important learning experience of working in a gallery environment. Sadly, Don passed away earlier this year but his legacy lives on through the bright lights of the young people inspired by his passions and dedication to excellence. Blangko is not only a celebration of the achievements of these young students but also a celebration of a teacher who believed in their talent and limitless potential.