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Living up to My Blue China

Tracie Anglo Dizon

May 6 - 27, 2023


Living up to my Blue China

Tracie Anglo Dizon’s third solo exhibition “Living up to my Blue China” features paintings that embody timeless beauty cast in the form of blue china, which serves as the base for the artist’s critical reflection on the constraints of cultural conventionality. Using a more contemporary painterly touch Anglo Dizon plays with the boundaries of ornamental design to interject the tension between the modern and the classical, between the oriental and the western, with a witty aesthetic twist of feminism in overriding the dominant culture.

Portrayed with classic iconic grace while shrouded in auratic mystique, the porcelain plates and vases stand distinguished here from the ordinary stuff of everyday life. The blue china are rare in this manner, a material phenomena precious yet impermanent, whilst certainly fragile, with the qualities of porcelain appropriate for this attribution. Beauty similarly resembles such a delicate thing as its value belongs to the subjective, the arbitrary, and thus constantly foreshadowed with doubt that is ultimately judged. Exhibiting an exquisite form having fine details, the porcelain objects represent sensuous bodies possessing an enigmatic femininity. They offer long standing ornamental pleasure being pure vessels of joy.

Thus, the blue china easily refers to the metaphor of female beauty which Anglo Dizon makes the association here by presenting her portrait series of Philippine beauty queens. The artist captures a frieze of each of their ecstatic moment being crowned as earthly goddesses. Similarly, the gorgeous profile heads are thus considered here by Anglo Dizon as plates. And accordingly, the beauties also become objects of desire being avatars of the ideal, akin to the conditions of porcelain china. Such divine ideals are indeed difficult to emulate, to live up to, as declared by the Victorian poet Oscar Wilde in reference to the pure beauty of the ornamental plates: "I find it harder and harder everyday to live up to my blue china." This fragile condition appears as Anglo Dizon´s point of aesthetic critique, her awareness in subverting cultural conventions while accomplishing artistic feats.

Following the fine line and pattern flowing along a seamless cosmetic, the viewer is surely pleased with the elegant oriental design of the blue china. Add to this the engaging narrative symbolism embedded on each porcelain that pulls the viewer in, practically a book incorporating visual language. Embracing such multiple points of view, these objects are vessels imbued with knowledge, a repository of lived history. Pursued with creative insight, Anglo Dizon adds a whimsical flair over tradition by putting a twist over the design’s given narrative. Surrealist in manner that collide orthodox motifs with the unexpected, and following the inspired phrase by the French writer, Isidore Ducasse, otherwise known as the Comte de Lautréamont, “Beautiful as the accidental encounter, on a dissecting table, of a sewing machine and an umbrella,” the detourned objects of beauty here present shock to the norm that paves the way in dislodging ordinary reception in pursuit of other alternative consciousness and in opening newer paths of dialogue and thought. Elements of storytelling in Anglo Dizon’s work become springboards to the imagination that inspire creative growth and intuitive inquiries exposing fixed agendas.

To further elucidate Anglo Dizon’s approach while appropriating traditional decorative patterns found on the plates, the artist morphs such design into painterly braids that act as symbols here for a particular young group of women (which is actually inspired by the artist’s daughter’s youthful girl gang) to bond as a common unit, if not forming their own identity through design (as they wear the same braided style on specific days). Another motif found on the vessels are twisting flowers whose stem resemble corset strings that are loosened here in defiance over fixed assumptions and acts as a call for freedom from bondage. Or, Anglo Dizon´s signature move of animating the narrative elements within the given design, putting life to once lifeless things, which extends the long reach from the classical to the contemporary.

Particularly in one blue china vase, the immediate image of a patriarchal monarch sitting front and center appears to vomit his beard from his seat of authority. The artist applies the paint here in graffiti mode, to connote the overwriting and displacement of power, spewing over, tastefully overdone. While slithering in the middle of the vase are the elongated handles that constrict the jar-like live snake ready to bite venom. There also appears either a beak or a metal stud protruding from the left side of the vase, which brings a certain angst and menace to the whole. Meanwhile, the stalks of a pair of tulips gouge the porcelain to escape its containment searching to move forward. The artist seems to relish on poking fun at those established powers.

In following the beautiful diatribes of these elaborate exquisite corpses if you may, or another way of saying, the bride stripped bare by her bachelors, even (my apologies to Duchamp), Anglo Dizon´s paintings evoke a radical path employing terms of beauty to engage the cultural majority that constrain us from a liberated imaginary.

Arvin Flores

Tracie Anglo Dizon

Tracie Anglo Dizon explores and questions beauty as seen throughout history, from Chinese porcelain to post-impressionism and the contemporary. She peppers her paintings with surrealist narratives vis-a-vis a critical awareness of the practice of painting, as a medium of pleasure and profound experience.

Tracie studied drawing and painting at the Art Students League before embarking on a graphic design career. A recipient of the Merit Award for Design from the Art Directors Club of New York, Tracie graduated with a degree in Communication Design from Parsons School of Design and a Communications degree from the Ateneo de Manila University. Tracie was an art director in New York, Manila, and Singapore for over a decade before returning to her first love, painting.

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