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Kapirasong Paraiso

JC Sicam

April 6 - 27, 2024

Press Release

Kapirasong Paraiso

Searching for signs and signposts in his pursuit of a promised paradise, JC Sicam delves into the realms of Faith and fate seeking illumination from the sacred to the profane in his latest solo exhibition entitled Kapirasong Paraiso.

Through contrasting pieces like "Bukas (Open) and Sanktwaryo (Sanctuary), Sicam navigates his differing
encounters with the divine. Subtle hues temper the wild-eyed (self ) portrait of a Krusado (member of a
homegrown sect) exploring various religious practices in Bukas. In contrast, delicately rendered in charcoal on Bible pages mounted on canvas, Sanktwaryo, depicts the peaceful solace of a half-naked angel with broken wings praying in a run-down toilet - Sicam’s preferred place of worship.

The artist exposes his tender spot in the family portrait Angkas (Ride) where Sicam depicts himself as a carabao bearing the weight of his loved ones. Flanking him are his wife and daughter, symbolically represented by a pair of winged legs as guardian angels. At the center is a window-like opening exposing his rib cage, from which emerge tiny fists holding onto the bright red ribs, which the artist reveals is his blind son Emman, the heart of the family pumping life through the artist’s veins, and also where it hurts the most.

Libang (Leisure) tells the story of father and son through two pieces of a broken swing. The top piece, drawn in charcoal over Bible pages mounted on canvas, suggests an arched window or a mirror with a bald figure peering at his erased reflection. Below it, untethered, is a mold-covered swing symbolizing the lost leisure and lightheartedness of youth. For Sicam and his son, the time of innocence was cut short, its golden aura dimmed by the child’s impaired vision. Mourning his and his son’s inability to enjoy carefree play, the artist turn to the scriptures to give him perspective.

In rural communities, land binds and land divides families. The title piece, Kapirasong Paraiso, is a bird-like
sculpture made of terracotta and found objects embodying the artist-farmer's struggle for ownership amidst contested land. For wings, he attached rusty spades with ends blunted by the impenetrable piece of metal base to narrate the futility of cultivating something you can’t own. Inside a hollow torso shaped like a cage, his heart hangs with thorns sprouting from it. “Sama ng loob (bitterness) can eat up a man from inside”, the artist confesses. Attached below the heart is a shackle, dangling like the pendulum of a cuckoo clock. The figure looks up at an incoming flock of migrating birds made of sickles as if asking, “Bakit nandito pa rin ako? (Why am I still here?)”

Through his signature bittersweet lens, Sicam’s exhibit ponders the pursuit of paradise - a relentless struggle or a resigned acceptance? Is it something we have to look for or is it something we have overlooked? And is “kapiraso” (a mere fragment) enough?

Alee Garibay

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