“Pharmasika 633 @ Calle Heneral Luna” exhibition by Alwin Reamillo is exhibited from September 12 – October 31, 2021 at the NCCA Gallery.

If many of Alwin Reamillo’s installation art pieces function as metaphorical musical compositions, the artist’s present show, Pharmasika 633 @ Calle Heneral Luna at the NCCA Gallery at 633 General Luna Street, Intramuros, Manila, could be called an enlargement of that intent. While inhabiting its present space in its present time, the show actually looks further back to his 2013 NCCA Gallery installation art show titled Tinubuang Lupa (about Andres Bonifacio). Reamillo asks us to regard the present show as a sort of sequel to that 2013 exhibit, or as the second panel to a mental diptych. It asks us to extract the ghost of that 2013 show so that it can be part of this present one, and so that the whole act of remembering Tinubuang Lupa and seeing Pharmasika in the present would create a virtual comic opera or symphony of sorts in our minds. Although the current show’s title is focused on the name of General Antonio Luna, the pharmacist-general, the show’s conceptual and historical allusions seek to animate the two key personas of the two shows, namely Luna’s and Bonifacio’s, to become the protagonists in a twin comi-tragic mental opera.      

Reamillo’s art has been obsessed with parades of historical and Philippine cultural juxtapositions. But they’re not blind juxtapositions that simply raffle images for parallel presentation, for simple entertainment or pretense. Reamillo’s obsession with history and with surrealist presentation comes from a magic realist sensibility and lexicon, if we understand magic realism as a style of fiction construction that appropriates surreal and fantastic juxtapositions for the purpose of realistically highlighting that continuing war in society (or a nation) between the objects of truth and the icons of myth.      

But why dramatize this conflict through musical metaphors? And why harp on the artistic part of political personas? It is to pounce on the fact that everything is music (or an art). As well as the fact that music and art can be medicine (or cultural medicine).      

Reamillo seeks to parody the musicality around people and things and history. Parody! Thus, in Pharmasika 633@ Calle Heneral Luna, the treatment of Luna both as a pharmacist (pharma) and artist (musika) presents the positive note of Luna’s real presence as a counterpoint to the negative note of the dissonant as well as silent products of noisy mythmaking and lies and quiet history-less-ness (memory-less-ness). Reamillo’s artmaking around our national heroes (who also happen to be artists) also becomes a paean/salute to their choice of a treatment for the Philippine social cancer of their time: not merely science or ilustrado knowledge, of which they were stalwart holders, but cultural art as well, whether through the novel, the poem, or music, or through the musicality of dark satire as tonal medicines to forgetfulness.  

“Pharmasika 633@ Calle Heneral Luna” opens on September 12, 2021 at the NCCA Gallery, 633 General Luna Street, Intramuros, Manila. Exhibition runs until October 31, 2021. Email gallery@ncca.gov.ph for more details.