Arts & Culture

Silverlens Challenges Conventions in Two Thought-Provoking Exhibits

Isa Lorenzo and Rachel Rillo curate a pair of exhibits that directly challenges preconceptions of painting and photography.
IMAGE WILLIAM ONG
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Does the process of creating art dictate its form? At what point does deviating from convention strip a piece of its categorization? What constitutes a painting? And when does a photograph stop being a photograph?

Silverlens Galleries aims to answer these questions with a pair of exhibits that directly challenge preconceptions of painting and photography. Painting, Differently examines the art of painting down to its very essence—the laying of pigment onto a surface—while Equivalent/s pursues the idea of abstraction within the objectively form-dominated discipline of photography.

Painting, Differently

Silverlens founder Isa Lorenzo believes that art isn’t innovation, but a problem-solving situation.

“Each artist has a set of problems. They’re artistic problems that they want to solve, and they solve them through their work,” she explains. “It begins with a question. What are the ideas they want to explore? What are the problems that these ideas bring?”

In curating Painting, Differently, Lorenzo sought to address to address the question “How do we show audiences here that painting is not copying, or appropriating, or figuration?”


The answer, it seems, lies in the work of three artists: each belonging to a different generation, living in different countries, and working in mediums outside conventional ideas of what painting is.

Mit Jai Inn, long considered a pioneer in Thai contemporary art, encourages audiences to experience his work beyond their sense of sight. His paintings fold in on themselves, bear textures that are meant to be touched, and beckon the viewer to stand in intimate proximity with them. In doing so, Jai Inn’s pieces break the one-dimensional reality of traditional paintings and invite you to fully experience their more ephemeral nature.

“We always see paintings from one side,” he says. “Usually, you only see it [art] with your eyes. Your body has to be in it, be around it.”

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“I mostly work with the physical; not just with the eye, but with the whole body,” Jai Inn continues. “I think there are some symptoms, some complexes—especially the inferiority complex—that we have been caught in so much in life. We have to be a little bit free to balance it. For me, what I’m interested in is to find the medium to release myself. Mostly visually, but you can interact with it. The more you touch it, the more you absorb it.”


Aditya Novali

For Aditya Novali, an Indonesian artist 18 years Jai Inn’s junior, art is achieved by capturing the interplay between opposites. It begins with his choice of methodology, which aims to balance a systematic approach with elements of randomness.

“Constantly, I’m questioning about what people call normal or not normal, what is real or unreal, social or un-social,” he says. “I question the idea of the abstract. I question, is it possible to create abstract from something from logical and methodological? So I create a system of how I want to paint. I have to paint by coincidence. I’m creating work from, for example, dice. The dice actually decided for me what the size of the painting is, the colors I can use, and how many times I can paint.”

In Painting, Differently, Novali used plexiglass and Sharpies as his main tools, stripping away thick layers of ink and acrylic to create provocative exchanges between light and shadow. Grids were constructed beforehand to add structure to the process, before the act of erasing revealed—often by accident—richer hues and textures. The pieces, arranged in grids, are both placid and violent, rigid and reckless.

Nicole Coson, the youngest of the three artists featured in Painting, Differently, uses analogue printing methods to explore the concept of camouflage in nature, overlaying patterns and textures to create a conversation between sign and signifier. Raised in Manila and currently studying in London, the artist creates rich pieces that demand a closer look.

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Equivalent/s

Next to Painting, Differently is a rather curious photography exhibit populated by, at first glance, non-photographs. Equivalent/s, curated by Rachel Rillo, is an exercise in finding the abstraction within the process of photography, as captured by five artists.

“There is a kind of representational aspect of photography, because photography is about capturing something; capturing the moment, the theme, the model, the subject,” Rillo shares. “My curatorial note when I asked these artists to make work for this show, was to find what it is in their practice—meaning their process—that is abstract. It isn’t the idea that is abstract—not to make abstract photographs, but what in their practice is more abstract than representational, and to push that.”

For Frank Callaghan, that meant capturing moonlight reflected on disturbed water, as opposed to traditionally static surfaces. Each image, shot in varying levels of exposure, presents a sight that will never be seen in its exact form again.


Corinne De San Jose, on the other hand, took images of smut and body parts, ripped them to shreds, and scanned them alongside images of nature before printing them on color negatives. The end result is a series of Technicolor tessellations that evoke a sense of sound as much as they do sight.


Teo Esguerra found artistic liberation in the manipulation of photo development. Originally using paint to gloss over mistakes in the developing process, he learned to intentionally “ruin” prints in ways that created images far more characteristic of his creative instincts than the normally measured approach he took with photography.

By design, MM Yu’s rabid photography style lends itself to a variety of interpretations. Seemingly random, voyeuristic shots of her environs are printed onto wood and arranged in fixed grids, inviting viewers to form their own narratives through their juxtaposition.

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Issay Rodriguez’s installation, a series of cyanotypes and negatives, depict the impermanence of memory despite the existence of photography. The images, salvaged from old family photos damaged by floods, are arranged along the wall, separated by gaps where time was lost.


In these abstract approaches to the process of photography, each artist was able to capture the person behind the lenses, making themselves the subject of the exhibit. The images fascinate and intrigue while opening up conversations on how the line between painting and photography can be blurred.

Both Painting, Differently and Equivalent/s will be on display until November 17, 2018, at Silverlens Galleries along Don Chino Roces Ave. Ext., Makati City. Visit www.silverlensgalleries.com or their official Facebook page for more information.

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Marco Sumayao
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