Saturday, April 04, 2015

Choosing to Subvert Nostalgia

“My collage is the result of images that went on a speed-date
that got married with my consent.”
Dina Gadia

In defense of his 1917 work Fountain, Marcel Duchamp is reported as saying whether Mr.Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view-- and created a new thought for that object.” This conceptual idea that the artist’s choice is the paramount ingredient in the definition of a work being art has resonated ever since, especially in the arenas of appropriation and collage.

Inspired by old movie posters, pulp illustrations, comics, old textbook illustrations, album covers and other visual ephemera Filipino artist Dina Gadia has made the selection and juxtapositioning of their images the mainstay of her art. Employing the use of both appropriation and collage her work is starting to gain recognition outside of the Philippines. With Artinfo’s Eric Bryant stating in 2011 “The Philippines is a crossroads of influences — from the China and Indonesia to Spain and the United States — and Gadia’s manipulation of imagery from vintage imported magazine beautifully captures that culture.

Gadia’s first job after graduating from the Far Eastern University with a fine arts degree with an advertising major, she swapped from architecture because of the maths involved, was with the Manila Bulletin. Where, as she told Artes De Las Filipinas, “In publishing, I do layouts for magazines and newspapers, do illustrations for the Sunday “kiddy” section of the paper and make infographics for some of the articles.”

Since her first solo show Ultra Plastic Style Now! at Manila’s Hiraya Gallery in 2009, Gadia’s career has taken off and her need for a day job has become redundant. Working with painting which says is contemplative; requiring studies for their completion, as opposed to her collages which are spontaneous Gadia pursues an aesthetic that allows her choices to question the conventional by turning nostalgia on its head.

As she says in her artist’s statement “I use the artworks or images of previous generations as my own, recycling and reframing in order to create a new one by making fun of the images, twisting them, and injecting humorous juxtapositions. My idea is not to please with my work. It has to be ugly in some way. Like a cult film, I choose my work to remain part of the ‘so bad it’s so good’ variety. I want it raw, bad and tough yet funny.

Gadia’s latest exhibition At Odds with the Visual is currently on show at Manila’s Silverlens Gallery until the 25th of April.

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