November 13 - December 04, 2021
They have always been our unsung heroes – those employed in healthcare, public transport, food services, retail, and the many means of livelihood in the informal economy. The pandemic situation has by now recognized their roles as nothing short of being indispensable, hence they are now popularly referred to as frontliners and essential workers.
Their functions are at the forefront of the struggle to survive amid a global health crisis, and yet they are the ones most burdened and hardly hit by mobility restrictions or most exposed to the risk of infection. While others have shifted to the confines and security of their homes in performing their jobs, these people still need to ply their trade outdoors or on-site, making them a true lifeblood of our society and the backbone of the conduct of everyday life under the non-normal condition.
In this new collection of works by LJ Ablola Sy, she pays homage these individuals by capturing them in their typical day at work. The images portray their daily grind with a semblance of normalcy, highlighting the uninterrupted performance of their duties despite the ongoing challenges. We see them roaming the streets and manning their usual workplaces, each scene animated by the artist’s characteristic juxtaposition of discrete colors in free forms, resembling stylized drips of paint arranged to produce a map-like appearance.
This rich visual articulation is further intensified by an assortment of strands delicately incorporated into each composition. Of varying colors, thickness, and textures, these materials are knotted, stitched, and looped in a complex and random fashion – their tangles and interweaving suggesting the intricate ways livelihoods are connected and intertwined in the economic web.
In these pieces of composite paintings and tapestries, the strength and tenacity of the whole lie in the interconnectedness of its fibers, just like the interdependence of various sectors in the society which keeps it afloat even in the most challenging times. And in this network, our frontliners and essential workers become the threads that bind and reinforce the fragile segments.
Lory Joy Ablola also known as LJ (b. 1979, Manila) is a Filipina artist who graduated from the Far Eastern University with a degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts and a major in Advertising. LJ was part of the Haslla International Open Air Museum Residency and has exhibited her works in different countries like Singapore, Korea, Tokyo, and Italy.
She was born and raised in the busy streets of Manila and has worked as a graphic designer for years before fully pursuing her passion for paintings. LJ usually uses acrylic paint, thread, metallic pen ink, cutouts, and folds that made her works distinctive for collectors.
She and her husband Dexter Sy, another artist, usually go through the streets of Manila to photograph the anonymous people that they encounter and the crowded places like public markets, transit, streets, and main roads that they get to traverse. For Lj, those images that they capture have a story to tell. Every crowd and individual that was seemingly frozen in the photograph, is considered special and has a unique personality that contributes to the grand meaning of her works. Ablola is also convinced that each of them has a destination to go reach in the future.