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Dexter Sy

November 05 - 26, 2022

Press Release


In "Birthmark," Dexter Sy remembers moments from his past through works that present themselves as markers of every chapter of his life. Born to a Filipino-Chinese family, his practice has always been informed by the cultural particularities and bearings of living in two cultures. Here, red dominates the exhibition as the artist believes that the color aptly represents Asian identity and its duality. In many cultures in the region, red is associated with all things auspicious and happy. Its symbolic connection to positive forces of energy pivoted its popularity.

Textile and mixed media works marking Sy's articulation of these characteristics are present in this exhibition. To build a narrative, he presents works in different formats such as portraits, assemblages, and sculptures--- all are part of a visual account that hints at the various stages of the artist's life and the environment he had lived in the past. In the "Time Passing Moments" series, objects and textiles are held together to form an image, producing what seems to be a scrapbook, where fragments of memories are embedded and sewn. Meanwhile, the exhibition's three prominent mixed media works illustrate embodiments, perhaps from real people related to the artist; they tell us about the significance of time in our kinships.

Probably one of Sy's most vital works, "Life Cycle," is a family portrait full of suggestions and innuendos as to the true nature of familial dynamics, especially in the case of those similar to the artist's background and caught between this duality. The work demonstrates the somewhat enigmatic approach in portraying something conventional. The work includes images of people and objects that sometimes appear as heavenly bodies creating a whimsical mood in the pictorial.

Part of this presentation is a series of vintage acupuncture rubber models turned into mixed media sculptures by the artist. The intervention on a material historically used to teach traditional medicine is a proposed form of reclaiming the body through healing. Thus, one can only be healed when someone feels comfortable and grounded enough in his identity amidst all its complications. Thus, in inserting himself through these objects, the self emerges from the boundaries and limits of traditions and stereotypes. In understanding "Birthmark," one must realize his place in the scope of his relations; individual, community, and nation. Then, all that we have inherited and are forced to carry on can all become instruments and tools as we carve our own histories.

-Gwen Bautista

Dexter Sy (b.1979)

Dexter Sy is a visual artist who is known for his two-dimensional works often combining painting with pen and ink drawing in connection to the cultural particularities of being a Chinese-Filipino. He graduated with a degree in Fine Arts major in Advertising from Far Eastern University.

He underwent a residency program at the Haslla International Open Air Museum Residency in Korea (2011, 2012, and 2015). In 2017, through the Philippine Artist Residency Program of Alliance Française de Manille, he was able to go through a residency and have a solo exhibition at Centre Intermondes in La Rochelle, France.

His upcoming exhibit Titled: Birthmark is about his personal experience growing up in two different cultures (Fil-Chinese). Most of his works are highlighted in the shade of Red which for him represents his identity as an Asian and some of his works have a patch of alpombra, a material usually utilized to create carpets, which for him represents the Birthmark.

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