Arts & Culture

These Dogs Are Meant to Be Handled With Care

Look closely to see what these furry friends are made of.

Josephine Turalba’s canines are playful, engaging, endearing.

Bespectaculed, bejeweled, at rest, or at play, the dogs beg to be touched, caressed, by the viewer.

May we? we ask the artist, knowing fully well that works of art are not meant to be handled.

After a pregnant pause, she agrees. For tonight, at least. It is opening night for Turalba’s “Candid Canines: Many Moods,” a pop-up show by Ricco Renzo Gallery as it celebrates its 15th year.

“Each dog has its own special place in my heart. It’s like having children,” says Turalba, in a video about the exhibit. “As I created them they had their own personalities. I loved them all in different ways.”

"Spike," bronze, leather, empty brass, and shotgun shells

"Gus Baby," bronze, copper, and turquoise

"Pepper," bronze, copper, empty brass, and shotgun shells, glass enamel black agate

"Torsten," empty brass and shotgun shells, copper

The metal that looks soft and fluid from a distance is cold and hard, and menacing up close, especially when we realize that what appear to be small discs are bullet shell casings from shotguns.


Turalba began using the casings as an art medium after the death of her father.

“In 2006, my father was murdered, shot with four bullets. His body was dumped on the side of a provincial road; by a hoodlum gang, headed by an ex-military intelligence man, victimizing desperate men in their senior years,” Turalba wrote back in 2008, in her artist statement for her work, “Mighty Ballistic.”

“The excessive death toll continues on today with continuous unsolved killings and abductions all over the country, personal and political. The prevailing actuality is that human life is cheap. Money is valued more than human life,” she wrote back then.

Ricco Renzo Gallery @ 15: Candid Canines, Many Moods by Josephine Turalba

Interdisciplinary artist, Josephine Turalba in her words, in her studio, for her latest Manila exhibit at Yuchengco Museum. December 8-22, 2018.

Posted by Ricco Renzo Gallery on Thursday, December 13, 2018

But, as curator Professor Ruben DF Defeo writes, “Who would have ever thought that the once deadly bullet that can still life at 2,500 feet per second can be transformed into the very playful essence of life that art celebrates?

“Candid Canines: Many Moods” by Ricco Renzo Gallery is on through December 22 at the Yuchengco Museum, RCBC Tower, Ayala Avenue, Makati.

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Yvette Fernandez
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