The alien is a hypothetical being from another world - a product of not only fiction, but the high mathematical and scientific probability of existence from beyond our earthly strata. This creature, typically envisioned with a bulbous head, long arms and legs attached to a frail body covered with grayish glowing skin, is seemingly fashioned in our own image. As if to fill the void of the unknown, we have turned its more popular self into a physically substandard human with superior intellect to compensate for it. Interestingly, as a noun, it is synonymous to the unidentified and strange which can be a little ironic given that aliens are very much familiar to the collective consciousness of the mass culture. Its manifestation is comparable to a modern myth continuously adapting to the times, a malleable character in our shared history.

In the exhibition, Marija Vicente, Veronica Pee, Jan Balquin and Gino Javier explore the various representations of the ‘alien’ by drawing references from the esoteric notions prevalent in pulp fiction, fringe science, cult following and the like. More than being fascinated with the quantifiable and educated guesses contributed by science, we are more akin to the obscurities of its formation in our shared consciousness. Its speculative nature, bordering on the silly, appeals to us in different ways. As if by painting a portrait, with the alien as our sitter, we will attempt to capture our subject in as many ways we can think of.

Though hackneyed the subject may seem, its virtue lies on how far we can stretch our imaginations and integrate it into our own personal art-making process.  


   by Cid Reyes
Hybrid, from the Latin hybrida, is defined easily enough as the combination of two different things, a blending of diverse cultures and traditions, races, breeds, varieties, or species.
But as the title of a group exhibition, it seems to be more than just appropriate; the various artworks create their own unique dynamics, characterized at once by harmony, conflict and tension, due to the hybridity of differing painting styles, themes, and color schemes. While they are gathered, sharing the same space and time continuum, they all beat the same path towards the viewer’s hearts and minds.
Adrian Jay Manuel has found the perfect metaphor for the subject, the issue, that has so haunted and wounded the country: corruption in the government. Using the image of the apple –  with its attendant expression  “rotten to the core”  – the artist gathers a congress of mutating monsters, enclosed within the heart of a gleaming delicious red apple. Representing the elected leaders of our land, who won the votes of the people through sweet promises that were never fulfilled, our politicians have sunk to a level of depredation unseen in the sad history of our country. Symbolizing a noble Juan dela Cruz, topped by a kingly crown, the figure exposes to the public the shameless venality of politicians that become the worm curdling at the core of the apple.
There’s more to Jonathan Joven’s unique way of presenting his scenario. Called the worm’s eye view – as seen from the ground. From here we see an impoverished Filipino family subsisting on a humble meal, an unconventional way of viewing reality, from which we never seem to rise. The idea of the worm is also most appropriate, especially now when hunger and disease, tragedy and natural devastation stalk our land. When we are all several feet under the ground, our remains will be the welcome feast for worms.
The greatest irony of civilized man in the 21st century is the insidious way in which humanity is being transformed by technology into machine-like creatures. Dicky Santos juxtaposes, in his own words, “chat symbols, emoticons, internet slang words, memes” as the equivalence of human emotions, or digital love. No one can be in denial that communication, the transference of messages, whether business or personal, whether for the public or intimates, is now effected through texting. This is not, of course, to denigrate the value of communications technology, without which we can no longer imagine our world, nor conduct our lives with such convenience, speed and efficiency. The artist merely reminds us that we should never lose our basic humanity, the love that sustains and nourishes each and every human being.
Has man’s best friend coveted the persona of his master? Or has man now assumed the nature of a beast? No matter how one perceives the work of Reybert Ramos, whether in the negative or in the positive, one cannot deny the immediate shock of the juxtaposed images of man and canine. Whatever possessed the artist? To be sure, his portraits – for indeed they are portraits in presentation – have been so rendered with an almost tender finesse that no trace of beastly hostility can be felt. Still, the viewer must be sensitive to his reaction. Is he revolted by the image or in fact captivated? Surrealist imagery – the juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated objects, figures – or perspectives – almost comes as a jolt to the unaware audience. It is provocative in nature, plumbing the depths of the subconscious. Is it the bark or the bite of the work that has instilled the fear in us?
Randy Andem takes a formalist approach to his geometric abstraction. He shares the information that the work was inspired by the art of Louise Nevelson. Of Russian descent, the American sculptor created a long-running series of wall installations that are relief in nature. They are constructed from numerous parts of discarded wood furniture, assembled together in crate-like configurations. Often they are painted in a single monochrome: black, white or gold. Nevelson was also an early exemplar of a feminist who stood her ground against the prejudicies of a male-dominated New York art scene. She refused to be pigeonholed as a woman artist, a derogatory male gesture of diminishing the female gender, intent on questioning male superiority. In a golden rectangle composition, Andem equates the debris of our city to the poverty of our people.
This painting of a mother and child by Christel Pichay is brimming with love and affection. The subjects, after all, are his own wife and daughter. In this work, the artist is observant of the conventions of the Mother and Child theme. The bodies of the two figures seem to have merged into each other, beyond the warm physical embrace. Light and shadow are so seamlessly brushed into each, blurring contours and delineations. In a matriarchal society such as ours, the Mother and Child will always remain a classic theme. More than just an emotionally accessible subject, it has a direct artistic lineage through all centuries and cultures since ancient times.
Art has opened new avenues for self-expression in ways that past centuries never saw as worthy and therefore never been even ventured into. The discovery and the courage to use non-traditional materials – aside from oils and acrylics, watercolor and tempera, for instance – paved the way for an aesthetic sensation never felt before. A movement started in Italy in the Sixties was called Arte Povera, literally meaning Poor Art, where discarded materials, often picked-up in the streets, regarded as trash or rubbish, found their renewed usage as elements of art. Today, without exaggeration, anything and everything has its potential as art material. In this show, Jonathan Castro recycles old and used canvas pieces, sewn together and retouched, strewn with Biblical verses, and enriched with new meanings and emotion, and a new face.
In a previous show, Lex Marcos was inspired by the works of the late Spanish poet Hernandez, from whose poems, questioning authority and exposing its tragic consequences, the artist derived his poignant images, at once figurative and abstract. In his current work, Marcos was inspired by a multi-media production named Machinenoisy. A homage to “childhood innocence,” the theme is richly emotive and offers images suggestive of childhood, to which all humanity can connect. While the work is predominantly abstract, the spontaneity in the manner of composition is itself an illumination of a vanished past, whose consequences – joyous or tragic – are still being felt in the present.



   By Lena Cobangbang


Myths will never cease to be made and remade, and told and re-told, as they have the potency to embody beliefs and traditions of a culture or a civilization.  Joseph Campbell has encapsulated in his seminal book, The Power of Myth, the universal need for such as being integral to culture, with the recurrence of certain themes in different mythologies leading to a realization of universal and eternal truths about mankind.

In Epjey Pacheco’s Fiction, a narrative flows about a bird/bird man in various episodes of battle, entrapment, flight, and introspection, wings resplendent as its richly textured and landscape and the minor characters that come in contact with this bird figure.  Drawing partly from personal experience, Pacheco infers to the bird/bird-man figure as an alter ego, or rather, as an allegorical stand-in for those experiences. Ambiguously open for reading for the viewer, Pacheco opts to leave out details, context, telling clues about personal histories, as to nestle such narrative in the realm of imagination instead, tilling further the verdant wealth of myths abounding our world.

Epjey Pacheco studied Fine Arts from the University of Sto. Thomas and works as a freelance graphic designer.  Known for his lustrous and richly layered works done in pen and ink, his works has been featured in the online version of Juxtapoz magazine and in the recently held exhibit Neo Folk 2 at Ikkan Gallery in Singapore.  He is also affiliated with the street art collective Pilipinas Street Plan and has released the limited edition art toy Slapstick.



   By Lena Cobangbang


Ferdz Valencia mines from his background of comics and skateboard graphics illustration to draw out mystic visions that reverberate from the cacophony of a mash-up religiosity that combines superstitions, folklore, urban mythology, UFOlogy into a fatalistic polytheism. Incorporating symbols and icons from a wide array of these myths and stories he’s also culled from pagan cults as well as from folk religion.  Each densely illustrated panel form mandala-like symmetrical compositions that rather read like a map on his ruminations on the divine, aspiring for transcendence in the rigorous craft of drawing, struggling to defy the banalities of a quotidian existence, at the same time, present the paradoxes of such a faith reliant on talismanic miracles.  The symmetry doubles as an affirmation of their existence and yet casts doubts on the veracity of its claims of the miraculous and esoteric truths. Whether these are to be believed or not, these persist as the world plunges further into uncertainty.

Valencia is a self-taught artist who was involved  in the underground comix scene in the 90s.  Together with fellow artist/illustrators they formed the group Alas Dose and released the self-published  Quatro comix series. He also came up with his own skateboard line Incubator and currently does graphics for Muckefuck skateboards and Black Label as Grudgebait Designs.  He also does collaborations under Crocogator with Victor Balanon where their stop motion animation video-installation was featured in the 2012 Jakarta Biennale. 




   By Cid Reyes

Heavily metaphorical is the group show’s title “Retaso,” which is the Philippine word meaning remnants of fabric. Indeed, the fabric of life, weaving through the works of these ten artists, is given literal, photographic presence in the invitation where shreds of fabric neatly form the word “Retaso.”

Symbolically, “Retaso,” the “remains of the day” of cutting reams of cloth, offers a wealth of interpretation. Each one, of course, is valid, in the sense that the interpretation has been “clothed” with a personal meaning. The Artists’ Statement declared in no uncertain terms that the works underscore the lives of many Filipinos, with both material deprivation and spiritual squalor.

Lamenting the plight of Filipino children, Arman Jay Arago combines the poignancy of the subject and a lyrical depiction of the figures. The viewer is torn between the aesthetic pleasure of the work’s execution and poignancy at the sight of a little girl, vending rags made of retasos, under a pouring rain. The irony is seen in the frail umbrella which the child holds aloft, the cheerful colors echoing those of her retaso rags. Alas, this is a perpetual scene in the streets of Metro Manila.

In the work titled “Bubong” two children helplessly try to keep themselves dry from the downpour with a banana leaf, their hood and shelter from the storm. Another Arman Jay piece titled “Pagsilang” (Childbirth) is a portent of another street child, coming into this cruel world.

Sinister, with their ashen gray coloration are the four works of Lester Rodriguez. Using a crumpled shroud as a camouflage, the artist “embeds” – whether pictorially or ignited by one’s imagination – objects of violence, instruments any reference to murder and mayhem by condensing his works as abstraction, with all the formal qualities of line, form, color and space.

More disturbing is the work titled “The Victim,” steeped in the horror of a man’s death. He is symbolized by a white shirt entangled, trapped within a tumbleweed of barbed wire. (Mercifully, the shirt is unstained with blood, the artist leaving something for the horrified imagination).

Still more horrific, but sounding like a muffled scream is the work “Unchained Melody.” It depicts a chainsaw that has been stunned into silence, with a long chain wound round the serrated blade. Intriguingly, a bird is perched atop, chirping, as the title would imply. The bird after all is the symbol of sentinel, released in freedom.

Melanio Arago’s works are strong on symbolism. From the sunlit belfry in “Decotomy,” the woman’s hand with a light match aloft illuminating the darkness and a serpent coiled around her arm, in “Forbidden,” the dart with a drug capsule and its victim in “Human Target,” an uplifted face emerging from a wreath of dried leaves, in “Semblance” and a “convoy” of ants, with precious morsels in their mouth, while traversing along a barbed wire.

Aldron Anchinges distills the essence of a house – the concept of it – at its most pared down expression, but still allowing for the formal demands of a sculpture. A house, after all, is structurally, a piece of sculpture. Its vertically upright formation alludes to the human individual that will seek shelter within its very core.

Cris Tuazon’s “Dynasty” and “The Headlines” works use fragments of a daily newspaper as a mask to camouflage identity as well as a rather obvert form of remarking on his subjects. His works with the imagery of children, “Elesi” and “Eroplano” also use but in the form of a gas mask. The use of the mask device heightens the tension of the figures, though all are caught in attitudes of either repose, resignation or rebellion.

The works of Jan Pocholo Policarpio “Missing You,” “The Family” and “The Late Night Show” – explore the theme of family relationship. Whether in a state of separation or togetherness, the family is viewed by the artist with a skeptical eye, presenting them in very real human situations while casting on them a visual to the family theme is “The Gossip” depicting an ice cream cone that has plopped down meltingly on the pavement.

Toti Cerda’s “Deconstructing Happiness” strips a man of his external trappings, from hat to shoes, and presents his anonymous visage, denigrated ironically with a finger–drawn Smiley. The antique appearance of the work seems to allude to a past century. Deprived of his dignity, can man still find happiness in this world?

Rodie Julian’s “Piraso” works – floral bloom, still lifes of native jars and vases, avian creatures – present an idyllic world. It is a world that is determined to turn its back on ugliness and misery.

John Perry Pellejera’s “Baluti” works conflates sculpture with choreography, narration, drama and contemporary pop culture that worships fantasy warriors and heroes. His materials are wood, metal and putty.

“Retaso” is an intensely felt meditation on the human condition, presented as a gritty denunciation of an existence discarded as torn pieces of left-over fabric. Each work is as it were, cut from the same cloth.



MINDSCAPE: Celebrating Talent and Artistry Within One Family

by Cid Reyes


An evident indication of the wealth of Filipino artistry is the impressive number of artistic families where the artistic gene is shared and passed on to the next generation. While often, it is a family patriarch, exemplified by the renowned Mauro Malang Santos, who is the founding father of an artistic “dynasty”, now there is the rare instance of a matriarch inspiring her own brood of artists. This is the inspiring case of noted artist Lydia Velasco, who is popularly known for her individual renditions of Filipino women.

In a show titled “Mindscape,” Galerie Anna presents her recent works of Lydia Velasco, together with Chigoe Velasco, Rosario Velasco, Xeryk Velasco, and sister Daisy Carlos.

The technique applied by Chigoe Cruz is called decalcomania, defined as “the art or process of transferring pictures and designs from specially prepared paper.” It is, however, more popularly known as decal or “stick-ons.” Chigoe’s medium is old wood, with its own unique, nature-weathered texture and touch. She intensifies its raw expressiveness by nailing down metallic studs and rivets. For her transferred images, the artist prefers Renaissance and Old World paintings, thereby contrasting the past with the present.

Using resin fiberglass, Rosario “Chie” Velasco arrests gestures in midmotion and freezes them into solid reality. Her male model was a construction worker, which she molded with plaster and presented as though he were emerging from a wall. More interestingly, Chie has done a sculptural portrait of her mother, caught in a meditative mood, typical of her stance when working on her painting.

In sleek and scrupulously crafted three dimensional geometric works, Xeryk Velasco creates casements, windows and alcoves that serve as stages and frames for his allegories on man’s universal anxieties. One work, “Repression of Frisolance” is a performative narrative that utilizes choreography and scenic design as well as mime and dramaturgy. The smooth finish of the works contrasts with the turbulent emotion of the encased human figures. Even the fragments of body parts, usually from antique santos, are handprints of violence and tragedy.

The maidens of Daisy Carlos seem to have leapt off the pages of  fairy tale books or medieval narratives where damsels in distress revel in their own fragility and delicacy. Garbed in long flowing gowns and the sheerest fabric, their alabaster skin as transparent as the sunrays that reflect the glowing tints of flowers enshrouding them, these ladies, with their masses of hair cascading down their shoulders, are deliberately theatrical. Every movement is punctuated by a sweep of the hand and held in a pose for the adulation of an audience. They are romanticized fantasies that serve as antidotes to the grim and gloom of present – day existence.

In the distinctive muscular physiognomy of her women, Lydia Velasco presents her “Catharsis” series that are the artist’s own responsive chords to the turmoils of life. Her gestures are more stylized, dance-like even, tension-filled, a balancing act between grace and aggression. Her black-and-white works in charcoal and acrylics, are large scale sketches that show a relaxed and spontaneous side of the artist. Ever prolific, the artist, whose works are sought-after by collectors, continues to create an impressive assembly of Filipino women dignified by strength of will, a frank sensuality and unbending fortitude in the face of trials and adversities.



   by Cid Reyes


That most appropriate title “Eclipse” glistens like moonlight, shining ostensibly on the darkness of the human condition. The moon’s most perfect shape – the circle – contains the two artists’ elegant and picturesque graphic authority. The moon is the consistent leitmotif, like a stage that unravels the various fragments of the artist’s pool of riotous images, each one delivered with a sharply edged contour. The totality is a fragrant burst of pure decorative power that dazzles the eye. The works are like a luscious version of cut-out collages that generate as much heat as the sinister messages hidden behind the obvertly seductive approach of the artists.

Janelle Tang’s paintings are like a profusion of blossoming images. Indeed she presents us with a specter of floral enigmas, acting like an interlocutor between the viewer and the mysterious man, cast in sheer black, looking so courtly with his bowler hat. Despite the presence of the gentleman character, the painting is lavished with feminine touches. Most telling are the spangle of an exquisite lacey fabric like a gracious nod to the artist’s gender, as well as the fastidiously rendered flowers with the gently taunting allure of roses or carnations.

In “Teardrop” the gentleman appears again, as though in a aerial mystery novel, where he is surrounded by a Pop-surreal splendor of tears pelting down like raindrops and the undeniable beauty of resplendent bouquets.

What mesmerizing message, the viewer might well wonder, is whispered by the painting “Silent Voice,”? Like a scream stifled into a whimper, this message roars with a blast of trumpet sounds and brass horns. With the flaring petals masking the mystery man’s face, swirling round, as though to lure him into the web of a romantic entanglement, the work illuminates the theme of allure and seduction, the visitation of an unexpected dark knight in a woman’s life.

Absolutely hewing to the disciplined shape of the circle, Mark Dawn Arcamo, alongside the artist Janelle Tang, harmonizes seamlessly with his own enigmatic works.

In contrast, Arcamo is male bravado, with a keen eye for details and images that subtly suggests a sense of evil and malediction. In “Overshadowed” the artist configures, within the moon-space, a bombast of butterflies and a poisonous insect, a stain of a beetze, in dark silhouette. A woman holding aloft an umbrella, seen in back view, is adrift in her direction. Presumably the woman whose face is partly hidden, protecting her anonymity, is swept by the direction of her own life’s shadows.

Is the woman in “Silently Revealed” being pursued by a stalker intent on slaying her? The sight of the cross-hairs icon, burdened by the presence of a black bird who will soon take flight after the evil deed is done, is a tinge of “film noir.” Like a votive offering, “Somewhere in Between” offers a canopy of moon-shape for Arcamo’s butterflies, dragonflies, roses, and blackbird.

“Eclipse” the shrouding darkness of the celestial body of the moon, is a shimmer of light, cast upon the artist’s imagination.


"Passive/Aggressive" with artists Melvin Culaba, Joseph De Juras, Vincent Padilla, Iggy Rodriguez, Brendale Tadeo and JR Urao.

Exhibit runs until June 12, 2014


By Cid Reyes


“When introverts are in conflict with each other… it may require a map in order to follow all the silences, nonverbal cues and passive-aggressive behavior!”

-Adam S. McHugh


“He’s passive-aggressive!” Now, there’s a buzz-word so casually bandied about, so easily hurled at someone. But in truth, as with so many behavioral aberrations, we are in the dark. For so clinical a word, we might as well take recourse to the experts:

“Passive-aggressive behavior was first defined clinically by Colonel William Meninger during World War II in the context of man’s reaction to military compliance. Meninger describes soldiers who were not openly defiant but expressed aggressiveness by passive answers, such as pouting, stubbornness, procrastination, inefficiency and passive obstructionism’ due to what Meninger saw as an immaturity and a reaction to routine military stress.” (Wikipedia).


Transfer that stress to the workplace, to home, to business transaction and personal relationship, and you have a world mired in negativity.

The paintings in the Passive/Aggressive show are not meant to be taken literally and figuratively. No matter that the images are so virulently distinctive, despite the vehemence of the implied narratives, the artworks are to be read and interpreted as allegories. Thus they are “the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truth or generalizations about human existence.” The theme is not an iron–clad stricture of interpretation but rather it functions as a lightning rod of meanings.

Iggy Rodriguez sparks questions of nobility and morality by the very crucial choice of his imagery. His artworks are centered on the swine. Rodriguez, of course, brands his swine as a symbol for a despicable person. In “Monetary Faith,” the artist elevates the swine on a lofty pedestal, a distinct allusion to the Golden Calf idolized by the misguided Israelites. Around it gather a multitude of worshipers, their heads bowed low in adoration. An ironically titled work is “Ode.” To be sure, it is not “a lyric poem usually marked by exaltation of feeling and style.” Rather, the painting depicts a coarseness of nature and behavior. In their crude vulgarity, a pair of swine is seen feasting to their gluttonous hearts’ content. In what seems to be a mockery of the Deposition from the Cross, the lifeless figure of the Christ is hypocritically mourned by a bevy of pigs.

From porcine to equine, the viewer casts a glance at JR Urao’s stallion, titled “Forgiven.” Intriguing is the blood-red gash diagonally slashed across the painting, like a flash of lightning. One wonders what heinous offense the stately stallion might have committed. It is well to remember that the stallion prefigures a human being. A sobering thought to an audience that accepts appearances for truth of character.

Canine, this time, is Melvin Culaba’s “Ang Pintoratso.” Recall that the word dog is slang for “a worthless person,” as in: a fellow called “a lazy dog” or “you lucky dog.” Culaba’s canine is equated to a painter who seems to have transformed into a mad dog, foaming at the mouth, evidently in the grip of rabies destroying the studio. Culaba’s other work, a triptych titled “Kinopya” is a filmic sequence of a woman desolate by the jalousied window.

Is martyrdom the reward for heroism, or its very cause? The painting of Vincent Padilla is the photograph of National Hero Jose Rizal in Bagumbayan, at the exact moment awaiting the volley of fire. The image melds and melts with the passing of time. The work is titled “Life Consecrated to a Great Ideal.”

Perhaps only the hypnotic figure in JR Urao’s “Learning To Unlearn” may be taken as an exact personification of the Passive/Aggressive character. The work is an extreme close-up of staring eyes, which, though shielded by eyeglasses, are still penetratingly discomfiting. The painting is quietly expressive in an unexpected sinister way.

Brendale Tadeo leaves a trail of surrealistic mystery with his three works depicting cycling vehicles. Indeed, they are the artist’s vehicles for transporting the viewer’s vision into destinations unknown. The drivers, engrossed in delivering message or merchandise, are unaware that they are being transformed into nightmarish figures, oozing with the electric energies of dark and evil forces. They constitute a bizarre evolution of innocence into quile and cunning.

The author Bill Maher, who wrote “When You Ride Alone You Ride With Bin Laden: What The Government Should Be Telling Us To Help Fight The War On Terrorism,” is quoted thus: “Not doing anything is doing something and choosing to look away is a passive but no less mortal sin.”

Indeed, passive/aggressive behavior is itself a form of terrorism.


"Passive/Aggressive" with artists Melvin Culaba, Joseph De Juras, Vincent Padilla, Iggy Rodriguez, Brendale Tadeo and JR Urao.

Exhibit runs until June 12, 2014