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Pinggot Zulueta

March 9 -30, 2024

Press Release


“In the dark times, will there also be singing? Yes, there will also be singing. About the dark times.” -Bertolt Brecht

In a world cloaked in darkness, the artist Pinggot Zulueta wields his ink pen as both a lamentation and invocation. In his solo exhibition of new works, Obskvra, the artist presents ten artworks that resonate with a powerful blend of artistic vision, social critique, and exhortation.

Obskvra is the fifth in a series of artworks by Pinggot Zulueta, which focuses on the existentiality of the human condition, his philosophical contemplations, and our infinite potential for survival. In 2016, his exhibition ‘Incepto’ had provided entry into the sublime thoughts of the artist’s soul. A year later, in ‘Ka.thar.sis’, his thoughtful reflection on alienation and solitude within unfamiliar environments was the central theme. In 2020, ‘Melankolia’ delved on understanding the inner self to achieve a sense of connection and harmony with one’s past. In 2022, ‘Infinitum’ accentuated an intense awareness of mortality, while urging viewers to make deliberate choices on what is truly important.

The artist has excelled in various forms of art and within his works there is a wide range of genres and styles. His art dignifies his experience and universalizes it through a medium that dives deeply under the surface. The artist combines surrealistic elements and visually stunning images where black predominates over all colors. His use of symbols combined with intricate details and textures has produced artworks that are both haunting and beautiful. The choice of a more dispassionate and sober mode of expression, using ink pen and paper, is not unrelated to his inner struggle in the service of which his artworks are made.

“My artistic process is characterized by the balance between a visual expression of what I see as well as personal influences. As an approach, repetitive layering using ink pen on paper continues until I feel a sense of harmony exists between the physical components and the evocative aspects of my artworks. I generate ideas through the artistic process itself. The unpredictable nature of layering – each step is a reaction to the one before - is a constant building up of an image and tearing it down. The more layers are added, the more thought

provoking the artwork becomes. This artistic process is also a metaphor for how I have been shaped by what I have experienced. “

The artist’s works tend to be dark and almost monochrome save for the use of dramatic highlights – and present their subjects as fundamentally ungraspable and, inevitably, remain out of reach. His art is not about creating beautiful or enjoyable objects, nor is it about producing a pleasurable experience to delight the viewers. His artworks are designed to do

quite the opposite – to cause us discomfort, to make us uneasy, or to make us feel the anguish and burden of existence.

In Obskvra, the tension between the artist’s imagination and the overriding obligation to present the truth characterizes his works. His artworks convey darkness, mystery, and chaos. These are an extension of the artist’s subconscious which reveals what we already intimately know. He uses surreal symbols to depict the ideas and institutions, or temples of humanism, that our future has been invested in. The icons from which we drew our strengths now appear as esoteric characters, atrophied from within and turned into empty shells. His artworks have become an archival tool for resistance, a survival kit of imagination to retrieve and reclaim what has been lost.

The exhibition is packed with artistic explorations – the central showcase, a four-panel piece, displays the artist’s skillful use of ink to produce a detailed and intricate image that conveys a sense of unease and psychological tension.

‘Hereditas (Legacy)’ presents the ‘weight of the world’ which is symbolized by a colossal stone eclipsing the innocent visage of Infanta Margarita, echoing Velasquez's timeless portrayal. The black backdrop signifies the present, enveloped in the shadow of our choices. Amidst the decay of Earth, the artwork challenges viewers to confront the legacy we bequeath to future generations – a poignant reflection on the responsibility to unveil a sustainable and hopeful future for our grandchildren and the next generation.

The artist brings to our attention images that invoke a sense of urgency, if not in content, then invariably, in context. Faced with the fragmented and haunting elements of our past and present, how then do we construct a future?

‘Earthkeeper’ depicts a veiled woman standing amidst a mystical landscape. Her long dress symbolizes rootedness and the heart at her core radiates universal love, while the blackish cloud formation behind signifies the complexities of her earthly stewardship. This artwork is a visual ode to a transcendent guardianship of our shared home.

This artwork reminds us that the ecological disaster worsens daily and yet the world remains distracted by politics that trade on setting up division, hatred, and fear.

‘Allegory of Rapture’ captures a poignant moment where an angel statue, symbolizing divine presence, rests against a dark foreground. The looming cumulus clouds suggest an impending event, or an imminent divine presence. This juxtaposition of celestial and sombre elements symbolizes the delicate juncture between the ephemeral and eternal.

This artwork delves into the transient nature of humanity and contemplates questions surrounding our finite existence. In it, the dark landscape looms, as so often, a visual image truly speaks louder than words.

Art invokes something in the human spirit that bolsters the soul in the toughest times and gives some sense of peace and purpose. The artist incorporates this idea into his work. He challenges viewers to consider other possibilities and to make alternatives happen. He invokes viewers to see the world differently and to adapt to wider perspectives beyond their own fears and anxieties.

Bertolt Brecht put it powerfully: Art is not a mirror held up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it. In the darkest of times, art is not an indulgence. It is a mark of our deepest humanity and is essential. It is a way of undermining constrained perspectives, restoring hope, forging a sense of resilience, and asserting our humanity.

The darkness of the world may not be our fault, but to light up the world is our existential duty. To cure the ills of society is too much to ask for any art or artist. But when a body of work – because it comes from a place of truth and universality – can reflect the horrors of the moment we live in, then it is incumbent upon us to give it serious attention. We cannot afford to overlook an ‘oeuvre’ as timely as this.

V E Zulueta

Pinggot Zulueta

PINGGOT ZULUETA is a visual artist, editorial cartoonist and photographer. Since 1983, he has been joining art exhibitions here and abroad. He has presented 10 solo shows, including Tilamsik (1985), Asinta (2002), Aotearoa Series in New York (2005), Makatulog Ka Pa Kaya - with Poetry by Nationall Artist Virgilio Almario aka Rio Alma (2013) and Infinitum (2022). His artwork had been featured in the 2014 Langkawi Art Biennale in Malaysia. In 2015 and 2018, he produced a couple of coffee table books, about Filipino Contemporary artists entitled, Filipino Artists in Their Studios I and II. He graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Fine Arts, Major in Painting.

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