Sunday, June 08, 2008

A fortuitous synergy casts some light

Published in The Expat Newspaper 8 June 2008-

As governments scramble to contain the effects of the global food crisis with the Philippine Government’s primary concern being focused on affordable rice, an exhibition that looks at the production and distribution of essential commodities opened on the 30th of May. “Staples for Perpetuity” presents the work of sculptor Ferdinand Cacnio and painter Nunelucio Alvarado.

Cacnio’s ten coffee table sized works are a nostalgic look at his parental influences of fishing from the paternal and rice farming on the maternal. Crafted from welded sheet brass they are intricate cameos from his past growing up in a more rural Malabon. In the main, as befits memories, these vignettes are optimistic with bountiful harvests and confident figures.

That being said a couple of Cacnio’s pieces extend past the work day to encompass more universal themes. Like the toiling back to back, bent figures planting and harvesting their rice crop in “Seasons in the Sun”. And then there is “Awake while others sleep” in which a lone figure stands atop a rickety tower scanning the horizon, a look out for a passing school of fish or a signature piece for the artist himself?

Alvarado’s thirteen paintings pay homage to the merchant. Depicting scenes from the wet markets of Negros, these semi abstract works display the artist’s affection and respect for his retail neighbours. A confident colourist, with a nod towards cubism, Alvarado’s pictorial structure has the formality of a stained glass window. With their wares on display his merchants await their customer’s pleasure, whilst behind the scenes and in the margins children and animals test their resolve. These are mature works from subject selection to execution that abound with references to ensure a longevity of viewing pleasure.

Both Cacnio and Alvarado had worked on their exhibited pieces for many months prior to the current food crisis. Consequently any synergy between exhibition and crisis must be minimal even if the headlines are fortuitous although an examination of the path from resource to table does help to illuminate the ensuing debate and the role of the players.

“Staples for Perpetuity” is on display at Galerie Hans Brumann, Level three, Greenbelt 5, Makati City until the 30th June.

PS. Should you decide to visit this exhibition whilst you are there check out the ceiling of the atrium outside the gallery, it’s a work of art in its own right.

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