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August 5, 2023
Tracking and Tracing
In Traces, Jayme Lucas’ second solo exhibition, the artist delves into junctures and beliefs passed through generations through imagery and themes vital to her practice. She paints empty tracts of land in their natural state. Aside from these wide-encompassing settings, however, Lucas also paints moving people, wandering anatomical parts, and figures frozen in relaxed stances as she chronicles comings and goings and keeping still as means to dissect elements of tradition, memory, and identity, creating an absorbing visual journey.
Through her well-recognized painting technique of distinct applications of pigments interspersed with scratches and glazes, the artist dredges deeply into the essence of being, contemplating the passage of time and the imprints we leave behind. This is perhaps most recognizable in The Playground, a diptych. A clearing with a backdrop of tall grass is marked by footprints and swarmed by dragonflies. According to Lucas, "this familiar setting of a barren field filled with dragonflies evokes playful memories of childhood in a rural village, a moment any ordinary barrio kid could recall fondly." For Filipino children, dragonflies are symbolic of an idyllic childhood and learning for yourself that you cannot keep winged creatures as pets. No matter how pretty the dragonfly’s holographic wings are, they cannot be owned. Trying to capture them, whether by tying a loop of thread through their soft bodies or keeping them in a jar, only leads to death. It is also a symbol of memory and reincarnation in local superstition. Children are often admonished, "Don’t touch that dragonfly! That’s your grandmother!" to indicate the reincarnation of departed loved ones, or even teased with a "Tutubi, tutubi" rhymed ditty about the insect not getting caught by a bedwetting kid. Two sets of footprints seem to have been captured as remnants of human presence making their mark in the otherwise nature-centric space.
Footprints I & II (Mga Yapak) explores the belief of pagsunod sa yapak (following in the footsteps). Inspired by traditional beliefs, it reflects the idea of following our elders' literal footsteps as we navigate life's path. Critical thinking comes into play, as we have to decide for ourselves if actually following the path already taken is better for us or not.
Maze is the artist’s vision of the journey in self-discovery, letting one navigate through traditions and beliefs learned since childhood, ingrained in the mind, and become force of habit. Lucas provides a localized and scaled-down twist on the concept of alien cornfield drawings abroad, allowing viewers to contemplate the complexities of not knowing if the next corner is a dead end or the finish line.
The Player's Feet series captures three phases of life: the unscarred feet of a child, brimming with excitement for the adventures that lie ahead; the freshly wounded feet of an adult, navigating through life's challenges amidst thorns and brambles; and the weathered and scabbed feet of an elderly person, armored by the wisdom of age, scars serving as tangible memories of life's experiences. This series serves as a reminder that life is a journey filled with both wounds and healing.
In Anim na Dekada (Six Decades), Lucas presents a poignant portrait of a 60-year-old man, overlaying it with illustrations of the traces of experiences etched onto his physical body. The scratches and glazing represent marks obtained through life's lessons, each story engraved on a person’s being and highlighting the resilience that comes with age and wisdom, while also signifying that nobody can possibly emerge unscathed.
Pamana (Heritage) depicts a mother and daughter clad in identical clothing and striking the same gesture. This powerful work captures the influence of tradition and behaviors passed down through generations. The belief of "like mother, like daughter" hints at conflicts in individual identity, a common theme in Filipino culture, where we unknowingly carry forward both the positive and negative aspects of our heritage.
Lastly, Sa Parehong Daan poignantly signifies the shared human experience. Each person's journey intersects with others, propelled forward by time, movement, and circumstances. Counting the days and years is marked by scratched lines, and as the figures go to and fro, one is obscured by a swarm of dragonflies appearing anew.
As Lucas takes us on an introspective journey through empty rice fields and congested walkways, she ruminates on existence. In tracing the hows and whys of being, the artist not only accounts for the actions of today but also acknowledges the factors that may have influenced them in the past and opens the conversation for future recourses. We trace genealogy through common traits of DNA strands and track pathways by following impressions on earth, ash, and grass. The use of dragonflies as symbolism may be prevalent in her recent works, but as she uses it as a device explaining already existing beliefs, who knows if she imagines a different flight plan for these winged creatures? The act of tracing may follow a guide, but does it necessarily mean that we should draw inside the lines? Perhaps this exhibition tells us otherwise.
Kaye O' Yek
Jayme Lucas (b.1996) grew up in Tarlac, within the Luisita area, where she became exposed to its socio-political history. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts major in Advertising at Tarlac State University, where she earned her Master’s degree in fine arts at the University of Santo Tomas Graduate School in 2020.
In 2019, Lucas received the Grand Award in the oil and acrylic painting category from Metrobank Art and Design Excellence. The following year, Lucas became a Tuklas grantee of the Eskinita art gallery program. She then resumed her career by becoming a full-time artist.
Lucas' works are influenced by her observance of the intricacy of local landscapes and portraits of people. She experiments on the connection of human conditions to social realities defined in a melancholic mood and subtractive technique on the oil-textured ground; this mainly shapes the form and substance in most of what she tries to expound.
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