ART SANCHEZ | CES EUGENIO | HAMILTON SULIT | ISADORE LERIO | JOHN LERY CAPILI
LOTSU MANES | MICHAEL DE GUZMAN | PAULO BARRERAS | RANDO ONIA | SEVERO BARING
25 JULY 2020
Kamunduhan: (Dis)enchantments with the World
“Kamunduhan,” which translates to “worldliness” is double-edged sword: it can be construed as either negative or positive—or both. The negative connotation, of course, signifies the unfettered desires of the flesh, which can only transpire through embodiment in the world. The positive meaning suggests a sharp awareness of what is happening around us, coupled with a call to action to address the lack, the injustice, the impoverishment of the world.
In this group exhibition, which features artists from Rizal Province—a long-time bastion of the arts—the twin definition of the word is unsheathed, evoked by works that reveal how our being in the world is shaped by various forces: from the inescapable imperatives of the body to the complex strictures of society. What is present in most of the works is a keen awareness of desire, and how this desire drives both creativity and destruction, both life and death.
For Art Sanchez, who has curated the exhibition, as well as Lotsu Manes, whose early exhibition prompted the title of the show, “kamunduhan” portends to a fulfillment of eschatology, the philosophy of last things: bodies massing together in some kind of Biblical judgment, the reckoning of humanity in the “darkest hour” (Sanchez) or the world itself as a globe half-submerged in liquid fire, presided over by scepter which has pierced through a bat, a suggestion of man over nature, whose karmic consequence is the boiling of the planet (Manes).
In the works of Michael De Guzman, Kim Hamilton Sulit, and Isadore Gabriel Lerio, it is the body’s cursed flesh that takes center stage. In De Guzman’s work, the grinning mouth is seen through a warren of wires, obviously out of control, hence the need for restraint. In Sulit’s work, the seated figure is shown in a slow state of decomposition, with the head fully melted as the sex organ quietly drips away. Lerio, on the other hand, goes deeply into the body to metaphorically show the mechanism of desire, the seeming mindlessness of its operation. For Jhon Lery Capili, it is not so much the body as the mind that controls and regulates desire, sometimes verging on excess and wildness.
Metaphor is the language used by Severo Baring who depicts a snake (a symbol of temptation), bearing a skull for a head, which signifies how untrammeled desire ultimately leads to death. In the work of Ces Eugenio, the emphasis is grounded on the sheer variety and complexity of the world: from metals (gold leaf) to the actual bones of an animal, to the painted pitcher plants of the natural world (which are, telling, carnivorous). In the work of Paulo Barreras, a constricted room symbolized the prison-like grip of a worldliness that doesn’t account for anything beyond eye can see, as evidenced by a floating empty whose roots attempt to reach out into space.
Kamunduhan, as a whole, reveals its fascinations and disenchantments with the world, how our own embodiment is both prison and freedom (for how else could we navigate the space and time of the here and now?). It asks question on the nature of the body itself, how the desire that propels creation ultimately leads to the body’s own dissolution. In light of a pandemic, global warming, and ecological collapse, the exhibition jolts us out of our complacency, bringing our attention to the world, which may be the only thing we have.
-Carlomar Arcangel Daoana