Charcoal has long been used by artist’s for sketching out ideas and drawing layouts to be painted over. It isn’t often that finished works are presented in this medium and rarer still for an exhibition to be devoted entirely to it. But Charlie Co’s latest exhibition, “Balana”, at Slab Gallery does just that.
His eighteen large (4’ x4’) charcoal drawings stand out in stark relief on the gallery’s white walls, a powerful and dramatic onslaught to the visual senses as you walk through the door. With their dark gray mattes and black frames these black and white images with their small splashes of color, which heightens the limited palette, confront the audience not only through the rendering but with the subject matter. For Co is uncompromising in his depiction humanities follies with his cast of self-indulgent characters.
From the business man looking through a key hole in “Here Comes Mr Smiley” with its pedophilic over tones to the un-repentant survivor in “Bail Out” that recalls the allegory of the ship of fools, Co tackles the issues of the day with insight and candor. But his work is more than current events as he turns to gaze through the proscenium upon issues that have occupied the human consciousness from the time of Medieval Morality plays in works like “St Michael Duels The Devil”. And more often than not his tongue is firmly in his cheek with a satirical sense humor that lightens the messenger’s tale, this aspect of his work is especially prevalent in “Crow Monger” and “Message From An Angel”.
Although bordering on the macabre from time to time, see "Masquerade" and "Halloween Chair", Co is a generous artist who has created images for this exhibition that keep on giving. "Balana" will be on view until 4th of July at Slab Gallery 2/F YMC Building 2, 2320 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City.