Muted Sound Grey Area
August 13 - September 03, 2022
Portraiture is the central subject of Kiko Urquiola’s body of work, presenting individuals in their various predicaments, most of which are internal. The artist has always made it a point to make visible the hidden aspects of the human experience, but nonetheless impact our day-to-day lives. Emotional, psychological, and spiritual states of being are as important—if not more important—than what happens to us externally. After all, our flight-and fight-response, our ability to cope or to give way to failure, our beliefs and ideologies are shaped by the mechanisms of these inner compulsions.
For his latest exhibition, Muted Sound Grey Area, the artist examines that indeterminate place in which notions of right and wrong have not been fully settled, where actions are suspended until further deliberations have taken place, and where the individual is unable to make the decision of whether to proceed with intent or further reflect in contemplation. We see the implications of this so-called grey area everywhere: in our conversations about the history of politics and the politics of history, in our determinations of what is moral and what is not, in our own personal meditations in what kinds of principles we assume.
For the artist, this in-between state is a double-bladed sword. For one, it allows a person to think through things and not rush to achieve a resolution that is final and irrevocable. The grey area provides a moment of rest. On the other hand, it also makes someone non-committal, essentially a fence-sitter, unable to make a stance, even if the times call for it. As much as it offers rest, this zone of uncertainty provides someone an excuse—if not an escape—to not offer a principled take on matters of extreme urgency, such as our contemporary politics or the global climate crisis.
Perhaps, the gray area exists out of fear of committing a mistake, which is articulated in the self-portrait, “Hindi Maling Magkamali.” Here, the figure, garbed in simple shirt and shorts, sits on a monoblock chair, staring at the viewer. Surrounded by planks of wood, the figure appears to be trapped and unable to move. These bars represent the mental constraints that inhibit us from making a decisive take on things. While they may seem robust and unbreakable, the artist conveys that the motion of standing up—both literally and figuratively—is all it takes to break through the self-imposed prison.
Urquiola’s other works, which depict figures in similar garments and set against neutral backgrounds, underscore how the grey area is an opportune time to take it easy. Works such as “Pahinga,” “Tamang Desisyon sa Tamang Oras,” and “Palipas Oras” exemplify this thought. There is also a certain radicalism in not immediately joining the bandwagon. Muted Sound Grey Area reveals how complex human nature is, how deeply unpredictable. Ultimately, how we reckon with the grey area is expressive of who we are, the choices we have made in the past, and the destiny we imagine to be waiting for us in the future.
-Carlomar Arcangel Daoana
Kiko Urquiola (b.1993)
Francis Dennis Urquiola also known as Kiko, is a visual artist from Bulacan, Philippines. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in fine arts at the Technological University of the Philippines in Manila in 2015. He has currently mounted seven solo shows and has been a part of numerous group shows around the metro since 2014.
For his 8th solo show, Titled “Muted Sound Grey Area”, Kiko explains that the “Grey Area” (Idiom) is a place where you are stuck in the middle of two opposing areas– Black and white. It is often thought of as “the safe side” but the truth is, one can find themselves in a situation where it is difficult to judge whether who or what is right or wrong, a grey area is usually unclear and undefined.