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March 04 - March 25, 2023
Caution: Hard Hat Area
For the silent desperate many--who struggle to make both ends meet--one barely lives to fight another day. Arisgado, the sixth solo exhibition by Arel Zambarrano, essays the painstaking realities that he and his laborers face day-to-day challenges. Based in Iloilo, this artist-architect continues his narrative from his previous shows, armed with undulated persistence, this time Zambarrano unravels deeper discontents as he collectively identifies with the suffering predicament of many—the dog-tired working class including the downtrodden and abused multitude--to still plod the neck deep flood for them to keep their head above water.
Ever since Zambarrano started his art practice he has veered on the edge of the dark and macabre imagery. He has always had a fascination for sharp edges placed in in-your-face aesthetic parlance. At one time he featured in Artificial Fear approximately 3400 knives onboard.
With needles as constant from his previous shows, in this offing he portrays arrows as tools for waging conflicted instincts, as well as, sustainability of survival life (as in hunting and gathering), the arrow is also the symbol of peace, alliance and other philosophical ideas.
Same as the exhibit title, Arisgado is the main piece in nine portraits of Zambarrano’s loyal laborers. As his men were painted as background, he uses pull-push rule’s blade overlaid with acrylic glass. What is astounding in this mixed media bravura is how Zambarrano alternately weaves tape measure with their canvas of mug shot faces of his long time construction workers. Sealing each with rivets to fasten each interchange.
Dragonflies have also been a recurring presence in a Zambarrano paintings. In this series the backbone of the dragonfly as we are reminded that we are transformed with every adversity we confront with. Dragonflies also symbolized adaptability and self-realization.
Zambarrano’s use of materiality merges his creativity in visuality and his being verse in constructing as an an architect. It is while busy on his building projects that he sought to incorporate his materials blending his two vocations. Although Zambarrano sees himself as an artist before his being a licensed professional builder.
Breath While in the Dark frames cemented floor mat with acrylic paint and plastic screen overlaid on etched acrylic glass. As trapos also mean corrupt government official Zambarrano is conscious of being decent in dealing with these people and not fall into their callous prey. Zambarrano sets himself as long as you are honest from the start no one can bribe you in peril.
Kalmado is a site specific installation reprising Zambarrano’s previous Ilomoca show. Casting himself for six hours, he uses cement to finish his actual being like it was a self-portrait. Like a paddling duck, Kalmado remains inverted being to show one to be calm while you wade the counter-controlling waves. Done in many versions all gearing up to Grit that is etched on canvas which is pierced by an arrow in Temporary Crucial Drawbacks, an oil on canvas with broken wooden arrows and copper nails attached to acrylic glass.
Four large paintings charge one with fervor to continue the fight and grab life’s bull by its horn. Against the background of needles and dragonflies Zambarrano always rise to the occasion. Like battle cries he instills in us the courage of a warrior that while being wounded by life’s sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it still is a beautiful world.
Rigid Still is Kalmado in two dimensions. The feet are a reflection of pain as most of the time we walk, run, or remain to standstill. Notice the foundation in pylon as base not to be swayed by untoward threats.
In the Threshold of Winning Battle, Zambarrano has been known to be most effective when faced with adversities as reflected by the exploded door hardware and pots. Consider the door knobs and hinges as one has to get out of our comfort zones to find our passion in life.
In Multiple Chances the cat is the symbol of nine lives and bearer of good fortune. Zambarrano’s pieces is rich in semiotics. It is in brokenness that he strives to come back stronger in existence.
Undaunted inculcates opportunities are as rare as the Panay-Negros Bleeding-Heart. Here he painterly sprouts mushrooms as unexpected blessings as Zambarrano’s hopeful hands are depicted in details.
Arisgado is arresting in its visual messaging as Zambarrano’s titles are encouraging phrases to keep you in the fight and not lose in depression.
Art is a risk for Zambarrano who never surrendered in life, much more be dissuaded in creating in poverty. Bring it on, like an agile boxer, he takes the blows but he just keeps on punching.
- Jay Bautista
Arel Zambarrano is a Filipino contemporary artist hailing from Banate, Iloilo Province. He is a licensed architect who graduated from Iloilo Science and Technology University (ISAT-U). His works often convey social and political issues.
Zambarrano has his own studio called “The Red Table” in Iloilo which serves as a haven for ideas and aspirations for himself, his fellow artists, and his mentees. His works have been recognized by various art institutions such as the Philippine Art Awards and Metrobank Art and Design Excellence.
"Arisgado (Risk taker)", the sixth solo exhibition by Arel Zambarrano, essays the painstaking realities that he and his laborers face in day-to-day challenges. Zambarrano continues his narrative from his previous shows, armed with undulated persistence, this time he unravels more profound discontents as he collectively identifies with the suffering predicament of many—the dog-tired working class including the downtrodden and abused multitude--to still plod the neck-deep flood for them to keep their head above water.
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