JULY 17 – AUGUST 6, 2018

Credere in Deum

/A Living Faith /

All human beings are blessed with the gift of spirit – an essential being or an inner self. And oftentimes, we are confronted with challenges to go deeper into the mystery of it. In Michelle Ballesteros’ Embed, faith in religion fostered the pathway to this discernment. “Three Graces” presented human beings in their imagination and grace. It shows how existence is already a blessing in itself as well as a reprobation. It manifested a feeling of majestas, of overpoweringness that regarding a higher reality simultaneously evokes a feeling of submergence of the self before its divine transcendence. A power that elicits humility – and a humility that is ironically the foundation of true identification of the self with the transcendent reality. And perhaps, for only as we see ourselves as such, that we get to open up a space for our spiritual journey.

A recurring element in this exhibit is the maroon cloth that is firmly, and deeply implanted in every subject of the artist. And throughout, it is revealed as a portrayal of a corrupted flamboyance, of a massive burden, of a certain intensity, and of a spiritual figure such as the Nazarene.

“Maria”, a name which is also often heard in Filipino households, is playfully associated with seemingly monotonous religious traditions and ceremonies embedded in one’s lifestyle. “Pagbabanalbanalan”, is how the artist would put it. This egotistical portrayal of the maroon cloth is the religious appropriation on a superficial level. It exemplifies faith growing out of sheer conformity and an unexamined lifestyle. “Still life” on the other hand showed how the maroon cloth can be a massive burden and a major contributor to see life absurdly and how easily it is to abandon hope.

Coated with sin, the artist’s “Self- Portrait” confers a profound indication of her dynamic growth in a spiritual community. That even with the dark shadow behind, it is still in her comprehension to gaze into her personal understanding of God, and to seek for religion at its purest. In “Patches,” this very idea is unveiled. This artwork promoted that there is something more to religion than faith. It cultivates a realm of commitment, a decision, and a very complex experience altogether. And this moment of truth comes out in the moments of hiding. It’s from one’s personal contemplation to bring embed faith to his heart. And in this moment of painfulness, comes the moment of grace. Religious experience is a belief to make room to understand what one to do not see. “Lifted II” also entails that certain level of belief. In a world replete with suffering and where prestige and status were the norm, where one is coated by sin, then one is lifted by a living faith.

 – Karen Tesalona