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December 11, 2009


Black and red are the dominant colors of the month of December. From the recent media march rally – media practitioners wearing red or black shirts and arm bands – to the works of four young emerging artists showing their works of art expressed through painting, photography and installation art in a collective art exhibition dubbed “Beauty for Ashes & the Passion for Truth”.

What makes this movement significant is that both groups converge into one aim – to promote and put forward a call to action for peace and justice to victims of violence and human rights’ abuse; and most specifically the gruesome brutality of the Maguindanao massacre that created a whirlpool of unrest to the immediate families of the victims and the community.

With the reporter’s pen and the artist’s brush and colors, they endeavor to deliver us the beauty of truth andcompassion.

The Art Speaks

Driven by ‘compassion’ and ‘creative synergy’, artists A.G. Saño; Ryn Paul Gonzales; and brothers Rianne and Razcel Salvarita has endeavored to ‘materialize’ their vision through their creative works. The works explore the primal ‘truth’ of the existence of being human – being the Love in form and each to be a Light of the world to extend the “good, the holy, and the beautiful”.

‘The eyes are the windows to the soul’. The work of A.G. Saño titled “Visions of Truth. Versions of Truth.”explores mirroring reflection/reaction of the photographs and the viewer. They are photographs of people’s eyes staring blankly or seductively or as if ‘there’s something fishy’. It is presented as a wall installation. Underneath some of the images are blank colored sheets offered to viewers to scribble a word of their version of truth.

A.G. is a landscape architect and photographer. He recently made a commitment to pursue his artful life in painting and photography and also endeavors a life in advocacy works – inclined in environmental and social issues. He finished at UP Diliman and lives in Quezon City.

Consisting of Polaroid-like collection of images, photographer Ryn Paul Gonzales attached his photographs on three panels painted in black. In one panel are images with holes on them that looked like gunshots. The second panel consists of collection of photographs of everyday people you see in the streets; each ‘innocent’ photo is splattered (or shall we say ‘wounded’) with red mark. The last panel is several photographs of people with cut-out faces and with hands raised as if crying for help. The photos are literally nailed on the board. He added red squares on both sides of the black panels attached on the wall signifying the ‘squeezing’ of ‘falsehood’ and ‘lies’ in the world. Unintentionally done, but his wall installation looked almost like a gun. It is entitled “Dirt, Truth and Madness.”

His long-time adventures in social activism and fun in protest art has provided a first-hand experience of ‘feeling into’ the culture of clash and conflict. He is an optometrist by profession, but has chosen a life in the farm with the ‘birds and the bees’ and captures all creation through the lens.

Another work is a mural painting with images of a war-plane dropping bombs; war-ships floating and strikes missile; two stretched arms holding assault rifle appear behind the figure of the “Virgin Mary” wearing a gas-mask. Inside Mary’s robe is a bull’s eye sign with written names of places experiencing war and conflict. In the middle of the sign is the word Love; and a painted statement “In God We Trust” covered the stretch of the painting. This is Rianne Salvarita’s work titled “Paranoia of Fear”.

In addition to his mural painting is an installation art of a lady mannequin all covered with tissue paper splattered with red paint – a picture of a ‘wounded Motherland’. Another installation of the same concept stands outside the gallery.

Rianne has recently finished an oil painting mural in a church in Antique. He now gears up (in collaboration with his partner Kimberly Gari) to work on an animation about the myths and legends of Negros Island – a project supported by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts to be featured in February 2010.

The ‘fourth horseman’ is Razcel Salvarita – a visionary artist-photographer and eco-activist with such an obvious Aquarian streak. He painted two large canvas works title “Topographic Truth of my Flesh”. It is an abstract self-portrait – the image is akin to a topographic map surrounded by a Red Sea of ‘innocence’. The painting application included finger-painting – an intimate-meditative art experience found by the artist.

His installation art Black Box: a Silent Proof” takes place in the middle of the gallery. It is a black cloth with holes on it that allows the viewers to peep into and take a look of the inside of the box – a pile of teeth plaster cast and dried flowers and a piece of plant skin that almost looked like a dried carcass. They are flooded with little red light bulbs.

According to Razcel, “The black box is among the most important object that must be retrieved on a plane crash as it serves as the ‘voice’ of truth.

With the recent ‘crash’ on human rights and violence in the south of the Philippines, the Filipino people questions whether the black box would be given justice to speak the truth or be left in silent suppression; buried beneath a shallow grave.

The country seems to be directed on auto-pilot. The challenge is for the Filipino people to ‘awaken’ and become ‘conscious’ citizens and converge to create a critical mass aiming for peace and justice.

As Bob Dylan sings, ‘the answer my friend is blowing in the wind…’ And we are the ‘wind’ to give direction to the right Path. We are the answer my friend.”

Black Box is a pre-installation of Razcel’s “Damgo Quatros Kantos ArtBox project” – a public art installationsupported by the NCCA as his contribution for the Philippine International Arts Festival in February 2010. The installation will happen in two cities – Bacolod and Dumaguete.

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“Beauty for Ashes & the Passion for Truth” is also their collective expressive contribution to give due respect and justice to the victims of the Maguindanao tragedy. The artists recognize the value of creative expression as a powerful ‘voice’ and thrust to bring into the open the call for Peace and Justice to all human beings. They are one with the media practitioners today calling for clarity of the issue and seek to reach the truth for all.

The exhibition is on view until December 18; and a group art exhibition, mostly of pioneer Negrense artists will follow and opens December 22.