The Sprawl Series

The Sprawl

Solo exhibition at Art Informal Gallery, Manila, Philippines
Nov 7 – Dec 2, 2013

As my story-driven works unravel, creating new narratives and mythologies has been my new foray with this new series in which these have evolved from my Battlefield Landscape series and Enamel paintings. Based on Peter Goin’s nuclear test site photographs, this initial imagery is further interpreted with my use of enamel to intensify and illuminate the toxicity and radioactivity of these landscapes. Enamel paint is also a recurring medium I use in my other nuclear explosion paintings to make them saccharine, cotton candy looking yet menacing and just as dangerous at the same time.

Simulating these techniques I developed during working on my Battlefield Landscapes, I strategically invade my oil-based works with ink drawn fantastical armies and have replaced them with this oil paint-based imagery sprawling on my glossy coated enamel landscapes. I maneuver and work my way around the geography of the image and create an entirely new composition based on my dreams, influences, the video games I play or just the mundane such as current news events. This new series is loosely based on Tarkovsky’s 1979 film Stalker and the award winning PC game series of the same name, which I thoroughly played and enjoyed. The movie and the videogame are both set in a mysterious and utterly desolate area called The Zone where the normal laws of physics no longer apply due to the after effects of an alien visitation or nuclear fallout. The skies drastically change from being clear and pristine to highly lethal and tumultuous. As the objects and various artifacts appear/disappear into the background and the landscape terraforms depending on the time of day, my works morph into the strangeness and absurdity of this film which is something I long to convey.

As a New York-based Filipino artist and a new immigrant some eleven years ago, my initial response to the city was to reimagine a world where I can adapt and work with. New York being a highly charged, pernicious city impelled me to fantasize and make up an entirely new reality where I can freely create my art. Some of my imagery is also inspired by urban Manila chaos, such as the cacophony of hanging laundry and the many garish billboards that dot the landscape where it is almost hypnagogic and possesses some sort of familiar humor. This new series is ultimately a convergence of these two worlds—my two realities in which I also both call home.

I would like to act as a portal, a filter for these two disparate landscapes, New York and Manila, and create an imagined world that came forth, or morphed or mutated from nuclear landscapes. The works are made up of different layers of paint—enamel, oil, neon pigment and are also translated as different substrata and layers of my inspirations and influences. Peter Goin’s photographs of nuclear test sites illustrate the starkness where a bleached world thrives, just unblemished and uninhibited and having that blanket of expanse as a background is almost like emulating a plain white canvas. Even though the final outcome of these works is almost fantastical and surreal, they are the ideal environment that best represents my subconscious where it serves as my own habitat as well.

The Sprawl may refer to sprawling landscapes, sprawling studios, sprawling houses, or just being sprawled on the floor. I welcome the all-encompassing, panoramic aspect of looking into the great beyond, at the horizon, and imagine gateways shredding into reality, opening new worlds where one simply has no choice but to embrace it.