PHOSPHENES

AUGUST 14 – AUGUST 30, 2018

Recurring Images

Artists Aileen Dela Cruz, Anne Lacaba, Leny Leonor and Tokwa Peñaflorida come together in a group exhibition titled “Phosphene”. The title refers to a visual phenomenon wherein the eyes detect or see rings or spots of light brought upon by stimulations other than an actual light source. Metaphorically, it stands for the recurring images that the artists are currently exploring in their respective creative practice. In iconography, this can be referred to as a motif, a recurring image in a composition which is employed for its symbolic function or as a decorative element, motif in common parlance can be synonymous to the terms “theme” or “style”. While the four artists differ in styles and themes, they are brought together by the way they incorporate the use of motif in their works not only for this exhibition but in their entire body of works.

For her part, Anne Lacaba reflects on social issues such as the consequences of the negative aspects of human nature; our penchant for violence and war which she represents through the use of combat fatigue patterns and anthropomorphic creatures enveloping and flanking what appears to be human figures. The mood of the works is further underscored by the artist’s use of bleak colors contrasting with solid, and in some parts approaching neon hues. In these works, Lacaba used as motif the image of winged knives swarming and stabbing the human figures to give heft to the physical and psychological suffering that they are currently enduring.

In contrast to Lacaba’s color filled canvases, the works of Aileen Dela Cruz for this exhibition are achromatic, if not totally black and white. The composition and symmetry of her works reminds one of how saints are depicted in icons. Indeed, together with the image of what seemed to be a halo around the central figure’s head, this configuration suggests an air of importance directed at the figures, as if asking for reverence regardless of whether such reverence is warranted or not. She peppers the pictorial fiend with floating eyes suggesting an omnipresent audience which could be representing her actual audience, i.e. the viewers of her work, or a totally different set of spectators not of this world.

Tokwa Peñaflorida’s works, on the other hand, are watercolor paintings of ethereal feminine figures, eyes staring directly at the viewer, inviting them to partake in a yet to be revealed narrative. They are either swathed or entangled by spirit sprites, appendages of flower-like creatures or bands of ribbon, images the artist is known for as he uses them in different permutations in his earlier works. The artist’s medium, watercolor, lends itself well in expressing the softness and delicateness of his subjects.

Lastly, Leny Leonor’s work is a 5 feet x 6 feet painting in which artist uses multiple repetitions of the same image to emphasis the contrast of danger and comfort, and of tension and calmness.

Each artist may have their own intention as to why they adhere to a particular motif, perhaps they point to an issue with no closure in sight or a theme not yet exhausted. It might be that their continued use of motifs is like scratching an itch or rubbing one’s eye to clear it of an obtrusive blob of light and it seems, at least at present, that no matter how hard they rub, the images still linger on.

-Ioannis Sicuya