IAN QUIRANTE | WINNER JUMALON
22 August 2020
"If I take death into my life, acknowledge it, and face it squarely, I will free myself from the anxiety of death and the pettiness of life - and only then will I be free to become myself." - Martin Heidegger
“Thrown-ness”, a two-person show by Winner Jumalon and Ian Quirante explores the state and feeling of being thrown into a new reality, a new normal where there is absolutely no escape. Thrown-ness borrows from Martin Heidegger’s reinterpretation of Dasein which is often translated into English as “existence”.
For Jumalon, the experience of being thrown into a new reality albeit a dystopian one allowed himself to confront his very existence, his own sense of being. Jumalon also believes that the feeling of thrown-ness allowed him to discover his life’s meaning as a metaphysical being.
It was not that long ago that the word “normal” meant something completely different for Jumalon and Quirante. In the beginning of 2020, both artists have found themselves thrown into a new world that is unfamiliar, unsettling, and at times terrifying. However, new terrains and new realities present new ways for mankind to come to terms with its very existence, being, and mortality. Oftentimes, new terrains present an opportunity for restoration and renewal. In the words of Arundhati Roy: The coronavirus “pandemic is a portal”. And as we are presented with this portal to a new, reimagined future, our minds tend to return to “normality” by holding on to the nostalgia of a bygone world, to find solace in the things that gave us comfort in the past. However, a rupture, an opening already exists and we are in the midst of it. Roy said that “historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine the world anew”. This is why the state and the feeling of being thrown into a new reality, thrown into the rupture that leads to a new world is a deeply transformative albeit an agonizing existential experience. The state and feeling of being thrown into this rupture is what Jumalon and Quirante are investigating in their two-person show Thrown-ness.
Jumalon's imagery in Thrown-ness is, in certain respects, a visual iyaku—an “imperfect translation” of both his internal and external realities in the time of a global pandemic. As iyaku in Japanese culture is about capturing the essence albeit through an imperfect translation of the spoken and the written word, Jumalon's portraits are visual impressions of the feeling, the energy, and the atmosphere of a world that has been thrown into a prolonged state of uncertainty, bleakness, and ambivalence. His larger-than-life portraits are superimposed with natural motifs that are based on and inspired by objects that the artist collected during his daily engagement with his immediate natural environment during quarantine. The ambiguous relationship between the elements in Jumalon’s compositions—natural motifs that appear to melt into the human figures, and broad and violent brushwork that obscure and obliterate much of the human faces—resulted to the creation of portraits that are almost phantom-like. It was as if man/woman was melting into his/her environment, a form of self-transcendence, a metaphysical experience amidst a dark and unsettling landscape.
As for Quirante, his idea of thrown-ness revolves around the recontextualization of his old drawings gathered from his visual diary. For Quirante, being thrown into a new reality presents an opportunity to revisit objects and images that are imbued with personal memory but with the intention of creating new meaning. In some respects, Quirante lifts from his past collection of works to make sense of a new and unfamiliar cultural landscape. According to him, although his process entails working with past drawings, his concern is not to create an autobiographical work. Instead, his creative impetus comes from his fascination with the act of constant editing without a fixed plan or end result. Quirante references the creative practice of William Burroughs who likewise featured an element of randomness in his body of work. For Quirante, the sense of thrown-ness is felt in the absence of a clear and defined visual narrative in his compositions that appear as disquieting dreamscapes. As the artist finds himself thrown into this troubling new reality, he creates works that reflect the uncertainty of the current zeitgeist.
For Quirante, thrown-ness is about being fully absorbed in the creative process of constant editing, a process that is reflective of the existential need for greater adaptability and antifragility in the new normal that the artist has found himself in. For Jumalon, thrown-ness is about reaching a state whereby the artist is able to completely inhabit the present moment in spite of the pervading sense of desolation and uncertainty. The Japanese idiom ichi-go ichi-e which roughly translates into English as “This moment only happens once and will never happen again” captures the way by which Jumalon has engaged with his immediate environment during the pandemic. Jumalon’s involuntary isolation opened an opportunity for him to be deeply immersed in this new dystopian reality, and in response, create an impression of his daily struggle.
-Patrick de Veyra