AUGUST 5 – 25, 2017

A Metallic of State of Mind

Metal has been the routine medium in sculpture, assemblage, and in some forms of installation art, but in his first-one-man show, Coping Mechanism, Anthony Victoria reveals its properties, particularly that of aluminum, as a drawing board, a slate, a futuristic canvas on which he essays the clashes, collusions, and inevitable cooperations of the human and the artificial, the beating heart and the thinking mind with the resonant forms of technology. 

Inevitably, one may think of his choice of medium as the material extension of his crutch that has provided him mobility since he was a kid. But in this particularly case, it is the artist that determines the points of negotiation: what to do with it, how to work with it, what to create from it. In a series of large-scale, glinting, and staggering works, Victoria operates in full-throttle the industry of his imagination, beginning with free-hand sketches, to their digital transformation through an image-manipulating software, to the inevitable application of the resulting forms onto his unique medium.

Through an enamel-resist method and chemical bath, the last part (that is, the direct engagement with aluminum), shares its process with the creation of the matrix used for printmaking except that, in Victoria’s case, the matrix is the finished product. What we see then is the machine or, rather, the machinery of this age-old medium, revealing the artist’s constellation of images through etched marks.

That his craft relies on vigorous figuration, on the analogue methods of painting, is evident, no doubt because of his training with Kalye Kolektib. Yes, the resulting image is achieved through chemical means, but it has to be drawn meticulously by the hand first. Upon closer look, some of the etched lines bleed. The surface vibrates with a seeming direct contact of the brush. The point is not perfection, but a meticulous mapping-out of a vision that could only be possible because of the medium.  

In love with the unbridled promise of technology of bridging the gap between the fragile body and the awesome natural forces, what Victoria does is unite the shiny surface of metal with a vocabulary of imagery that articulates such promise. In “Assembly Line,” we see a body facing up as it undergoes a transformation: to be outfitted, extended, radically altered with sci-fi thingamajigs. The body is an android waiting to happen.

A blueprint to the brave new world, Victoria’s works teem with juxtapositions of the biomorphic and the mechanistic, the hulking forms of innovation and the invisible rays and signals emitted by radars, satellite dishes, and similar devices. Even the brain and the heart converse through electricity. The works vibrate with currents, pulses, charges, the crisscrossing of invisible data. Rendered visually, they swirl around implements of speed: jets, spacecrafts, missiles, even the pedals of an F1 car. Nothing like vector lines and forms emphasizing the flatness of metal.

While the vision of the exhibition constitutes the technological sublime, its heart relies on the still all-too-human yearning of breaking through, transgressing, and overcoming limitations, whether of gravity, space, the anatomy of the human body. By incorporating his self-portrait into some of his works, the artist delivers a face to what could have ended simply as a highly predictive, self-operating sprawl. In the future, as Anthony Victoria victoriously proclaims in Coping Mechanism, the human will still be front and center.

-Carlomar Arcangel Daoana