May 29 - June 19, 2021
That Which Gives Us Strength
In his solo exhibition, Reinforced, Noel M. Elicaña presents what has become his recognizable visual language (a combination of gestural abstraction, symbolism, and dreamlike imagery, which the artist calls “social-surrealism”) in order to capture the inner truth and resolve of an individual as he faces life’s myriad challenges. Though it is easy to read his paintings within the context of the pandemic, Elicaña delves into the more enduring themes of spirituality “reinforced,” to use the title, by the agency of “family, experience, struggle, and faith.”
One to use symbols rather than literal images, Elicaña has chosen to use architectural forms of support, such as hollow blocks and rebars, to reflect upon the interior constitution of man that enables him to withstand threats both from the inside and the outside, just like the hidden structure that holds a house together, protecting it from all sorts of disasters. In the paintings, one discerns a belief in man’s internal faculties and resources, aided by spiritual guidance, as represented by Christian iconography such as the Cross and the Sacred Heart.
In some works, which include “Innate Rebars” and “Remember the Two Pillars,” these architectural forms of support are juxtaposed with depictions of skeleton, if only to highlight the invisible but important framework that makes both the body and the house maintain their shape and composure under not-so-ideal conditions. In the first work, one can instantly see the juxtaposition, underscored by a ghostly rendition of a heart which, for the artist, signifies that “our body is a church.” In the second work, Elicaña pays homage to his family, particularly his parents and guardians, his “invisible strength”: the “pillars” alluded to in the title. These pillars are of fishbones and human skeletons, “old yet valuable.”
“Concrete Cross” is, perhaps, what best captures the artist’s social-surrealist temperament as it presents in a grand scale the collective journey of humanity as people try to find anchor in the tumultuous world. They ride a metaphorical heart whose arteries and veins extend to all things, underscoring how we are all ultimately connected. While it seems to be an attempt at an escape, the work is all about rootedness and finding comfort in the stability of the Cross. “The message
is about strengthening the faith: to dig deep for a foundation,” the artist states. “One may observe that all the people have their eyes to the sky, hoping for a miracle.”
What Reinforced emphasizes is that a miracle is not some distant phenomenon, but something that manifests in there here and now, through the solace of art for instance, if we only care to look. “In a spiritual way, I consider myself as a preacher and healer,” says Elicaña. “I want the audience to feel something through my works. What we need now in this time of pandemic is the spirit that can withstand all uncertainties. As an artist, it is my way not only to express but to inspire, motivate, encourage, and influence others to be reinforced in their life.”
-Carlomar Arcangel Daoana
A full-time artist, Noel Elicana graduated with a degree in BS Architecture at the Iloilo Science and Technology University. He hails from Oton, Iloilo and has been a recipient of various awards throughout his career. In painting, most of his influences are derived from Heironymus Bosch, a Dutch painter. Elicana feels connected to the form, context, and narratives of the artist’s works for it appears more personal and at times, depicts a social context.
In this exhibit, Elicana aspires for his audience to bank on the spirit of his work. His core message is for the spirit to be reinforced and nurtured. In every crucial phase of human life, a spiritual force within the body drives the strength to withstand all physical, mental, and other uncertainties. Elicana aims to be the catalyst of spiritual inspiration and influence through his works.
Elicana’s process starts with layering – usually coming out with abstract expressionism. His concept is developed from his first stage and he then visualizes how he wants the artwork to be completed after. His style showcases social surrealism and symbolism which allows him to explore his subconscious mind while narrating his personal experiences. Through this, he creates a space for people to resonate with his works.
Elicana has garnered recognition throughout his career. One of his latest achievements is being chosen as a grand awardee for the Metrobank Art & Design Excellence (MADE) competition last 2018. He was also a top 5 regional winner for the Philippine Art Awards last 2019. His work has been seeing appreciation since 2013, through his connection with group and solo exhibitions at various galleries. He is also a participant of different art competitions around the country.