Dreams From The Abyss

Christian Carillaza | Isadore Lerio | Jan Sunday | Jessa Almirol
Popoy Aspiras | Rhaz Oriente | Rhex Dacaymat | Vien Valencia

September 10 - October 01, 2022

1/5
Video

Monochromatic Visions of the Void: Dreams from the Abyss

In one of his most-oft quoted philosophical passage, Friedrich Nietzsche states: “And if you gaze long enough into the abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” The abyss has been interpreted as symbolic of many things, but little attention has been devoted to the act of gazing itself: the courage to look into life’s immense mysteries, which is the preoccupation not only of religion and philosophy but also art.

For this group exhibition, Dreams from the Abyss, Christian Carillaza, Isadore Lerio, Jan Sunday, Jessa Almirol, Popoy Aspiras, Rhaz Oriente and Rhex Dacaymat look into the interiority of darkness and, through various media and figurative possibilities, express their visions of this fitful encounter, employing only the starkness and urgency of black and white, and the various permutations of gray between them. The result is an exhibition that thrums with primal vibrations, as our eyes navigate images which are at once solidly outlined and unmistakably fugitive.

Central to the explorations of the artists is how black and white represent the beginning and the end, life and death, good and evil, which constitute the story of creation itself. For some of the artists, the demarcation lines are blurred. For instance, in the works of Carillaza, the candle flame may be from a birthday or a funeral, the shroud may be for a newborn or a deceased. Sunday, on the other hand, interrogates the so-called duality of the human and the divine, the sacred and the profane, through assemblages and prints that juxtapose religious iconography with mundane objects.

Other artists choose to explore encompassing themes. In a painting by Aspiras, the still life genre of vanitas offers a view of time as finite not only on a human scale, but on a universal perspective. Another painting, this one by Dacaymat, ventures into abstraction, which shows how complexity may evoked through vigorous strokes of the brush, underscoring how the seeming orderliness of things gives way to chaos.

Materials, in the works of Lerio and Oriente, become the vehicle through which they reckon with their respective interpretations of the abyss. Lerio looks into the behavior of objects once mixed with others, suspended in the intermixture of oil and water. The artist was able to come up with highly-textured “dark formations,” which they then translated to an oil-on-canvas painting. By placing a “pie-shaped black print acrylic glass” in the corner of two adjoined mirrors (with another one underneath the object), Oriente, this time, produces the illusion of a whole—a circle that gives visual form to the void itself.

Dreams from the Abyss presents black and white not merely as an aesthetic or a stylistic choice, but as a powerful signifier of archetypes, which are deeply rooted in our psyche and which we employ to make sense of the world and our story within it. Regardless of who we are, we are bound by forces that control everything from the atom to the star, the light and dark that brackets existence. This exhibition provides us with profoundly ruminative works that make these forces intelligible.

-Carlomar Arcangel Daoana

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