February 27 - March 20, 2021
The Supremacy of the Past
Marami na ang nagbago at nawala,
Dahil ibang-iba na ang NGAYON.
Pero ang NOON ay NOON pa rin,
Kahit baliktarin mo man ito.
The past is always a contentious time frame, the point in which events recede and become irrecoverable forever. Memory is a way to recapture what has been, but the way things go, memory—volatile, ever-shifting, flighty—cannot be trusted. We go to so-called official accounts for a more authoritative version of the past, but those, too, are prone to revision. Historical revisionism, a term that has come to light because of efforts to alter the narratives of the past, has become a perennial problem. Where else do we go for source materials to tell us how things were?
In his solo exhibition, Noon, Azor Pazcoguin proposes that art may fill in the gaps as they provide the necessary function of documentation. In a suite of still lifes and portraits, the artist injects new life to obsolete objects as well as celebrities who have achieved iconic status. Using a monochromatic palette to underscore how these figures are inextricably linked to the past, Pazcoguin brings them back to the scrutiny of contemporary attention, each depicted individually on the canvas, surrounded by gray space, like some kind of icon or holy object.
While to some, the images of still life—a push-button telephone, a transistor radio, a pair of Chucks, a sewing machine, an analog camera, a typewriter—are recognizable (and with some still in use in the context of the fashionable hipster lifestyle), they are presented with distortions, both minor and major, akin to screen glitches. The artist seems to portray them at the moment they are about to disappear from view, insisting on their forms for the last time. They are the vestiges of a time when life was simple and everything was done manually, whether making a dress or taking a picture. They are precursors to the powerful technology that we are currently enjoying, such as the cellphone or the laptop. But here they are in their outdated glory, less models of functionality than evocations of nostalgia, making their final bid to be remembered.
Pazcoguin’s portraits have that aura of wanting to be enshrined for posterity. the subjects are depicted in the height of their fame and power, the absolute best in the fields where they belonged. In a self-portrait, Pazcoguin looks back at his youth with tenderness, simply because the years past can no longer be reclaimed.
Noon, as a whole, is a tribute to the supremacy of the past, the black hole in which everything is bound to enter. Part of our lives, though we are still pretty much alive and with something to look forward to in the future, is within its territory, glimpsed only through lucid recollections or photographs. As what these paintings testify, memory is a primarily visual and, through the agency of art, may be impressed onto the canvas and onto the longevity of painting, in which the thing recalled gains a more enduring form.
-Carlomar Arcangel Daoana