"Visions" on an unlikely canvas

Many a gallery this month. I've been dying to blog all about them chronologically, starting from earliest I visited to the latest. But the time element's tricky in reporting, so I decided to write about this one-man, one-night exhibit last October 15 -- "Visions" featuring "surface wearable art" by Angelo Magno. The invitation says, "printmaker," but when I got to the the posh Shangri-la Place hall where his works were displayed, I wasn't quite sure I'd still believe that.

It's probably not my job to be an art pundit, but if it's for artists to challenge established definitions, then maybe I can object. First of all, Magno uses shirts and bags as his canvas, and paints directly on them (as far as I could tell). Nothing new in that, school kids going on camping express team spirit on their white cotton shirts. Still, the exhibit openly proclaims this as "printmaking." If it's not mediated by technology, then where's the "print" in that? Why not call it "usable painting" or something else? Unknowingly though, all this must really be part of the trick, the artistry of it.

The artworks show no coherence that the styles range from Kandinsky to Adarna children's books, except that they're all on textured, white surfaces. The one above, "Mother and Child," is one of my personal favorites. Being exclusively black, it stands out from among the colorful, varying other displays. Its pattern is almost abstract, but more characteristic of printmaking traditions. But if the criteria is if this would still look like a valuable piece when worn and taken for a bus ride, I doubt it would be noticed.

This one with the girl playing guitar is most attractive due to the vivid colors and pattern detail. The genius of it is in the close-up, when the viewer leans over and tries to appreciate its craft. But as an image, it's hardly moving, even emotionally neutral. It is, however, characteristically Asian, and that has credit for me. Many other displays also speak of Philippine history, at least from its captions, though I wish someone didn't write such lengthy descriptions.

I admire the idea of painting on an uneven fabric that loops, bulks and is crude, making the level of difficulty high for the artist and audience alike. The display above could have elicited bravos if it were covered all throughout and placed in the center of the room for audiences to view 360 degrees. That would be a real showcase of skill. Nevertheless, the attempt is of its own worth.

This is one work I can say that capitalizes on size, texture and "wearability" of the bag. The vertiginous imagery, especially when worn on the back, impacts the viewer with the intense colors and tempered lines.

"Visions" was organized by students of UA&P's Entrepreneurial Management program We've got to give it to those guys for pulling off a fleeting city cultural experience.

And by the way, the food was great, too. #