REDEFINING IDEAS

JOTYL JAN BERMUDEZ

July 16, 2022 - August 06, 2022

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The People We Become

Childhood is the site of dreams, a sacred place where one imagines the life one would live as an adult and the role one intends to play in society. Usually, a child will fashion the fantasy on what they see in their immediate environment. A child who has a doctor for a parent will naturally gravitate toward this profession. Encouraged by a teacher who has seen early doodles and sketches, a child may pursue the arts. Jotyl Jan Bermudez in his solo exhibition, Redefining Ideas, is interested on why “some people reach their life-long dreams” while others “remain adrift.”

Depicted in a surrealist style, the paintings depict people, juxtaposed with the symbols representing the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors they have assumed in life. The man, in the work “Caution” for instance, has an alarm light for a head, which suggests an acute awareness of life and an ability to detect danger, which sets off the metaphorical alarm. On the other hand, a woman, in “Techno Lady,” features a robot head, which conveys how she parses the world in rigid definitions, calculating her decisions with extreme care.

The tableau-like paintings offer a more incisive look into the pockets of modern life. In “Old Fashioned Fades Away,” the artist depicts figures donning armors and petticoats, surrounded by objects that represent the grandeur of the past. In this painting, the artist wishes to “reflect on the gallantry and sophistication of the good old days” as a contrast to today’s life marked with “a technological take-over.” The sepia-like treatment of the painting further heightens the nostalgia for the past, in which in things may have been slower, but nonetheless regal and meaningful.

For “A Day’s Worth,” the artist presents the current role a woman has assumed in today’s society. In this painting, a woman, set in the middle of the space, presents a confident and a defiant pose, as she is surrounded by child-like figures and the accoutrements of the old life. In “A Bull Can Look Good Too,” Bermudez examines the nature of work, as exemplified by the figure who has a bull’s head. “Though you appear as cattle, a farmer’s livestock, a field animal, you can wear your decency with pride and dignity,” states the artist.

In Redefining Ideas, Bermudez presents the contradictions between the past (as we know it from history books as well as how we imagine it) and the present, with all the ease and conveniences it affords. Our dreams evolve based on our environment but, as these works affirm, they still come from a primeval, powerful sense of wanting to shape our identity with which other people will perceive us. Old ideas, such as traditional gender roles, die. New ones, such as our technological dependence, emerge. Ultimately, it is all about “redefining ideas” so the world we live in may be more consonant with our sense of freedom and happiness.

- Carlomar Arcangel Daoana

Jotyl Jan Bermudez

Born in 1989 and hailing from Tagum City, Davao Del Norte, Philippines. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts at the Ford Academy of Arts Inc. in Davao City. Since 2012, Bermudez has participated in numerous group exhibitions in galleries and art institutions in Manila, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, and London.

For his upcoming 4th solo exhibit, titled: Redefining Ideas, Bermudez was inspired to portray characters that reflect individual roles and placements within the social environment. For him, as one grows older, one starts to perceive their own individual outlook in life. Previous ideas of life during childhood differ much according to the social status people had then. As people mature, some are able to sustain the living they are used to and some due to differences in possibilities and circumstances reach their life-long dreams but there are still those who remain adrift.

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