Daloy: Radical Acts of Flowing


In this three-man show, Daloy, Mel Cabriana, Thomas Daquioag, and Archie Ruga employ the imagery of water and the ideas related to it: the flow of time and the essence of life. In psychoanalysis, bodies of water evoke the subconscious, and from this place do the three artists draw their imagery: a girl submerged in water, a superhero strumming a guitar against a flooded world, a full-grown figure inside a cocoon caressed by rain. With great care and insight, the images are made to bear their comment upon the world at large.

Take, for instance, Cabriana’s work, “Dreaming.” Here, we see a pair of human hands clutching flowers as it breaks through the surface of the water. Eyes closed, her face is still underwater. The rest of her body is covered with dry leaves that prevent her total emergence. The leaves look metallic and heavy—an impediment. She resembles Ophelia depicted before by other artists.

For Cabrina, the figure is the dream of a girl to one day become “a bride walking down the aisle.” Manifesting the desire to be in a “love relationship” with someone, the dream signifies the priorities, as symbolized by the leaves and the water, that crowd and choke her life. The competing tension of wanting to become a bride and yet fulfilling her obligations is evocative of what some young women are made to feel by their families. It doesn’t occur to the girl that she could simply walk away and leave everything behind for love.

In Daquioag’s work, on the other hand, we see an old man, in a superhero costume, strumming a guitar, his background showing threatening clouds and a neighborhood submerged in water. The destruction of the environment seems final, and the old man finds his solace in art.

This work is part of a series in which Daquioag glorifies “the Filipino workers by visually comparing them with superheroes, considering the amount of risk and daring that they put into endeavors as they risk their lives in everyday struggles.” In this instance, a superhero can exhibit spectacular strength and solve injustice but is helpless against the wrath of nature. For their abuse of the environment, men reap what they sow.

Taking into consideration themes of “metamorphosis” and “human nature,” Ruga depicts an infant swaddled in feathers, stars twinkling across the little body, as well as a full-grown figure inside what appears to be a cocoon, dangling on a branch. The two works are portraits of the beginning of life and its culmination in death.

Ruga has used the imagery of the cocoon to symbolize the vessel of life. For the artist, “not everything ends in death,” and that we are offered a cocoon at different points in our lives, “so we can have the opportunity to improve our life at the right place and at the right time.”

In Daloy, the three artists explore the surrealist mode as a contemporary exercise, an examination of spectacular visions against the larger, more urgent necessities. Instead of a straightforward story-telling, the artists have chosen to employ the dream-like images as symbols that unlock access into a more nuanced consideration of the place and time we live in. They reject literalism. In so doing, they turn the pictorial field as a place of wonder as well as wondering: a kind of visual thinking into probable states of human life.

–Carlomar Arcangel Daoana