ArtSlant - The voice in wilderness http://www.artslant.com/ny/Articles/show en-us 40 The Heron’s Secret: Maxine Syjuco as a Performance Artist <p align="center"><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"><i><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/205597/8ta3/20120618072551-Portrait_of_Maxine_Syjuco__photo_courtesy_the_artist.jpg" alt="Maxine Syjuco" style="float: left; margin: 10px;" width="320" /></i></span></p> <p align="center"><i style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"><br /></i></p> <p align="center"><span style="font-size: small; color: #cc0000;"><i style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">“<span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: small;">Surely all art is the result of one's having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, where no one can go any further.”</span></i></span></p> <p align="center"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; color: #cc0000;">-- Rainer Maria Rilke</span><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Manila, Philippines -- When a heron walks before sundown on the rice field during summer, it is like a mythic figure that glimmers from a distance. Its dainty steps, delicate white plumage, well-defined long neck and tapering bill emanates mystical elegance, as though a goddess went down from her celestial garden to greet the mortals.</span><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Gentle and placid, the heron will tiptoe to meet the king of the rice field – the <i>carabao</i> or water buffalo. Slowly, she will woo the farmer’s best friend that wallows on the sludge to let it perch on its back and pick the pestering insects on its mired skin. After completing a seemingly choreographed ritual, the heron will take off and flail against the wind, then return later to perform the same ceremony until the <i>carabao</i> ascends from its muddy pool to masticate the grass on the rice paddies. </span><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Then the heron will fly away and disappear from the rice farm without a trace. No one will know where it goes or hides – a stealthy act that only the heron keeps to itself.</span><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxine_Syjuco" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Maxine Syjuco</a></strong> has an inexplicable secret as a multimedia artist of outstanding accomplishment. Like the mystical presence of a heron, Maxine epitomizes amiability, gentleness, and elegance. At times, she can be girlish, sweet and naïve. But behind that seemingly fragile persona is a complex Maxine – bold, unpredictable, compassionate, and highly creative and intelligent.</span><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Her presence, as either a witness or a performer to any art gathering, evokes an iconic image, a class by herself that needs neither sycophancy nor embellishment. She simply exudes wherever she goes, and she fashions her art as though no one could ever create but herself. When performing in front of an audience, she unleashes her creative power as if with a vengeance – suave, sophisticated and electrifying.</span><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">For instance, in her entrancing performance at the CCP (Cultural Center of the Philippines) organized by the TUPADA (literally means “cockpit”), she performed her poem with her band known as “Utakan,” with husband and wife duo Aegee Syjuco on lead guitar and Mica on the synthesizer, and a Filipino abstractionist Egai Roxas on the percussion.</span><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/205597/8ta3/20120618073042-Guantanamo_Love__live_art_performance_at_CCP_by_Maxine_Syjuco_-_Copy.jpg" alt="Maxine at Tupada" width="650" style="vertical-align: middle; margin: 10px;" /></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Clad with sleeveless white shirt, necktie, checkered miniskirt with dangling red feathers around her waist, and white boots, Maxine delivered a powerful poem with a sword, literally, as if a Joan of Arc engaging in a battle, albeit in a live performance in front of the audience. Titled “Guantanamo Love,” the performance piece is an allusion to the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba, a US military prison infamous for allegedly interrogating and torturing its prisoners without fair trial.</span><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">After delivering her poem, Maxine waded out into an open space surrounded by the audience, clutching and flailing a fencing sword in an élan manner. In one corner of the CCP hall is a glass panel and in the middle, are balloons attached on printed dart circles.  At the other side of the panel, are Maxine’s collaborators, some TUPADA members, standing and anticipating for her ritualistic fencing movement.  In a flamboyant gesture, she intermittently pierces an array of hanging balloons that contain red liquid. One by one, they burst and splatter like blood on the floor.</span><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Her spellbinding performance mesmerizes the audience and fellow performers from France, Germany, Singapore, Japan, and the Philippines. </span><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">She just created a riveting symbolic act, which is analogous to the execution of the prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay. In the form of the balloons, she stages a mock play by stabbing them one by one with the slender sword in a random manner, thus revealing a heinous reality, extant at the other side of the world, to be pondered upon by the audience.</span><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Filipino writer, poet and fictionist <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Yuson" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Alfred “Krip” Yuson</a> described that particular performance as “a combination of fresh, dynamic text with theatrical flair in bold delivery to reward us with unique, cutting-edge art in transcendent awareness. She pushes the envelope with her conceptual approach to expressing her ideas in motion.”</span><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Equally compelling is the performance that she did during this writer’s one-week art event at The Podium in Mandaluyong City in 2006. Based on her poem titled “In a Box,” she collaborated with this writer with no prior rehearsal; we only communicated through text messages on what to do during the presentation. Unbeknownst to each other, we respectively planned a secret performative act that we would reveal later in the midst of our performance.</span><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/205597/8ta3/20120618073340-Maxine_copy.JPG" alt="Danny and Maxine" style="vertical-align: middle; margin: 1px;" width="700" /></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"><span style="color: #cc0000;"><strong><span style="font-size: small;">In a Box, live art performance by Maxine Syjuco with Danny Castillones Sillada, photo by Marge Francia.</span></strong></span><br /></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">As the series of our actions heightened toward the end, I held her delicate left hand and slid it slowly through the black long-sleeve of my right arm.  For a while, that particular moment seemed timeless amid the silent the crowd that breathlessly anticipated our next move. Maxine, who was blindfolded, was not aware that I hid something inside my sleeve.</span><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Slowly and steadily, I pulled her hand with a red flower that suddenly appeared like magic. After I removed the blindfold from her eyes, she realized that she was holding a fresh rose in her hand. Then, in an instinctual segue, Maxine surprisingly put the rose inside her mouth, pulled the stem with a relatively harsh force, and spit out the red petals into the air that fell like coagulated drops of blood on her naked feet. To the audience’s delight, they applauded with mesmeric and gratified look on their faces.</span><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Our action was unrehearsed from the beginning, yet our unified act surges with seamless spontaneity toward the climatic end of the performance. The poetic act that she created leaves a cathartic effect on the viewers. It was like a cleansing ritual, casting away the “busaw” (evil spirit) that lurks between the audience and the performer by letting the positive spell of the mana’og (Mandaya spirit god) reign against the negative forces of evil.</span><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Conversely, the substance of her art, particularly her live art performances, sums up the “katharsis” of the Aristotelian principle on aesthetics. Maxine’s art, in general, is a dialectical process of purification, allowing the audience to sensually experience its metaphysical symbol and meaning, and then come up with an aesthetic resolution toward the end to be relished and reflected by the same audience.</span><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/205597/8ta3/20120618073557-_1__Photography___2__Mixed-Media__and__3__Sculpture_by_Maxine_Syjuco.jpg" alt="Maxine's Art" style="float: left;" width="400" /></span></p> <p><strong><span style="color: #cc0000;"><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: small;">(1) Photography, (2) Mixed-Media, and (3) Sculpture by Maxine Syjuco</span></span></strong></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Born in 1984 in Manila to the famous artist-parents, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cesare_Syjuco" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Cesare A.X. Syjuco</a> and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Marie_Syjuco" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Jean-Marie Syjuco</a>, Maxine R. Syjuco carved her own niche as a published poet, musician, photographer, and conceptual, installation and performance artist. Her father, a literary iconoclast, is a highly acclaimed Filipino multimedia artist, a prizewinning painter and poet, and art critic in the earlier period of his artistic and literary career.</span><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">While her mother, Jean-Marie Syjuco, a painter, installation and conceptual artist, and an active performance artist in the 1980s, is behind all the Cesare A.X. Syjuco art events, organizing exhibits with regular live art performances that are participated by poets, musicians, and performance artists.</span><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">It was during the regular art events of her parents that Maxine honed her talents and began to shine as a multimedia artist. At a very young age of eleven, she started her career in music as the drummer of FAUST, a famous teenage band composed of the Syjuco siblings in the early 1990s. Gifted with beauty, artistic ingenuity and intelligence, she is also a commercial model appearing in numerous glossy magazines, fashion and situational photo shoots.</span><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Like the reticent heron that vanishes without a trace after performing its avian ritual on the rice field, Maxine disappears into her secret lair, after an art exhibit or live performance, to hatch and create again the varied forms and mediums of her aesthetics. Then, out of nowhere, she will reappear and shine again with the mystical allure of her opulent creation.</span><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">--------------------</span></p> <p><span size="2" face="book antiqua, palatino" style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Published in <a href="http://mb.com.ph/articles/362532/the-heron-s-secret" rel="nofollow">Manila Bulletin</a>, June 18, 2012, Lifestyle Section (Arts &amp; Culture): p. E1-E3. </span></p> <p><span style="color: #cc0000;"><strong><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: small;"><i>How to cite this article:</i> </span></strong></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: small;">Sillada, Danny Castillones.  “The Heron’s Secret: Maxine Syjuco as a Performance Artist.” <span style="text-decoration: underline;">Manila Bulletin</span> (Manila) 18 June 2012: E1 and E3. Print. </span></p> <p><span style="color: #cc0000;"><strong><span style="font-size: small;"><em><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino;">About the Author:</span></em></span></strong></span></p> <p><strong><a href="http://dannysillada.weebly.com/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">DANNY CASTILLONES SILLADA</a></strong><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: small;"> took a 180-degree detour from his vocation to the priesthood to embrace his artistic calling in the art world. He is a Filipino multidisciplinary artist, thinker, and writer – a surrealist painter, sculptor and installation artist, philosopher, multilingual poet, essayist, musician, performance artist, photographer, and an amateur indie filmmaker. He is also a critic-writer on art and culture in </span><strong style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: small;"><a href="http://www.mb.com.ph/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Manila Bulletin</a></strong><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: small;">, one of the leading daily papers in the Philippines.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: small;"><br /></span></p> Mon, 18 Jun 2012 09:51:15 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/ny/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/ny/Articles/list Surrealism in the Philippines (An interview with multidisciplinary artist and writer Danny Castillones Sillada) <p><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/205597/8ta3/20120421042800-1._Works_by__1__Marcel_Antonio___2__Jon_Jaylo___3__Camille_Dela_Rosa___4__Gromyko_Semper.JPG" alt="Works by (1) Marcel Antonio, (2) Jon Jaylo, (3) Camille Dela Rosa, (4) Gromyko Semper " width="670" style="vertical-align: top; margin: 3px;" /></p> <p>Manila, Philippines -- <strong><a href="http://dannysillada.weebly.com/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Danny Castillones Sillada</a></strong> has recently been included among the international artists in Martin Dawber’s book “Modern Vintage Illustration,” composed of some of the best illustrators worldwide. Martin Dawber, author of several illustrated books on fashion, photography and vintage illustrations, is a fashion and textile expert, lecturer and a consultant editor for the Routledge Encyclopedia of Contemporary British Culture.</p> <p>Stephen Bayley, author and one of the world’s renowned commentators on modern culture and contemporary design and architecture, wrote the foreword of the book due for release this August 2012 by a London publisher Anova Books, Inc.</p> <p><b>Paulo Villones:  How would you describe surrealism in the Philippines?</b></p> <p><b>Danny Castillones Sillada:</b> Surrealism in Philippine art is an individual style rather than a movement compared to its development in Latin America, USA and Europe. We have no historical surrealist movement in the country with a cohesive manifesto that sprang from political or anarchic cause relative to its inception in the early 1920s by French poet and writer André Breton. Hence, I could say that Surrealism in the Philippines is a road less traveled by local artists, a personal pursuit of creative style and technique rather than as a popular genre in our local art scene.</p> <p><b><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/205597/8ta3/20120421043120-2._Danny_Castillones_Sillada_in_his_studio.JPG" alt="Danny Castillones Sillada in his studio" width="400" style="float: left; margin: 10px;" />Paulo Villones: How do Filipinos perceive art, in general, in relation to Surrealism? Is it widely accepted by Filipinos?</b></p> <p><b>Danny Castillones Sillada:</b> I can’t say that Surrealism is widely accepted by Filipinos because there are very few surrealists in the country. Besides, Filipinos are not outspoken when it comes to appreciating art or any artistic movement, for that matter.</p> <p>In general, Filipinos are more emotional and visual than intellectual when it comes to appreciating and understanding art. If a painting or sculpture, for instance, is nice and pleasing to the eyes, they can relate to it in terms of sensual perception (forms and colors) rather than as a metaphysical encounter of symbol and meaning.</p> <p>But Surrealism is not just visual based on sensual perception; it also appeals to the cognitive human perception.  A viewer must think and reconcile the visual narrative of the surrealist: What is it all about and what do the symbolic elements signify in relation to their lives or conditions in the society?</p> <p>Conversely, the Filipino concept of art is about landscapes, flowers and realistic figures. It is more of a decorative piece that fits the color and motif of living room, e.g., wall, sofa or curtains, than something symbolic to be pondered upon as the manifestation of Filipino psyche, culture and sentiment.</p> <p>Lamentably, the younger generations of Filipinos are more attracted to social networking, computer games, soap operas on television, gossips and rumors of showbiz personalities, coffeehouse gatherings on weekends rather than reading Filipino literature, like poetry, short story or novel, or watching opera and theatrical plays, art exhibitions and other cultural events.</p> <p>To appreciate art, one must comprehend the thematic message of a particular work, the artist who created it and how it is addressed to our contemporary milieu. What value or meaning does art reveal as integral part of our life and culture? If an audience lacks these basic faculties to appreciate any aesthetic form; then, the symbolic representation of art would become meaningless, and the artist would become a solitary voice in the wilderness.</p> <p><b>Paulo Villones: Is there a Filipino Surrealis</b><b>m? What makes it different from others?</b></p> <p><b>Danny Castillones Sillada:</b> Once a particular art movement is integrated in a particular culture or society, like ours, it filters through the consciousness of the artist. From there, whatever the artist created is a reflection of his or her socio-cultural condition. And that, in my own opinion, makes the Filipino Surrealism unique from others!</p> <p><b> Paulo Villones: How would you qualify or define Surrealism? Is there any guideline for an artwork to be called surreal art?</b></p> <p><b>Danny Castillones Sillada:</b> There are no guidelines in surrealism; otherwise, if it has, it won’t be called surreal art anymore, because it is supposed to defy logic and reason in a rational manner, paradoxically speaking.</p> <p>Surrealism today as an artistic approach and method explores and addresses the shifting of aesthetic perception in our post post-modern society due to the advancement of technology, globalism and mass culture. Despite its diminishing impact as a movement, surrealistic method thrives in varied fields and mediums, such as painting, installation and conceptual art, graphic and digital art, film, cartoons and anime, photography, music, literature, performing arts, and even in commercial advertisements on social media, print media and television.</p> <p>A surrealist is like a ‘Modern Day Mystic.’ He goes beyond the “created realities” of mass culture and technology. And, like a shaman, he conjures up and reshuffles these “invented realities” in a sardonic manner to reflect the convoluted condition of our global society.</p> <p><b><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/205597/8ta3/20120421043417-5._Daloy__2003__nail_art_and_hydro-kinetic_sculpture_by_Danny_Castillones_Sillada.JPG" alt="Daloy, 2003, nail art and hydro-kinetic sculpture by Danny Castillones Sillada " width="670" style="vertical-align: middle; margin: 3px;" /></b></p> <p><b>Pa</b><b>ulo Villo</b><b>nes:<b> How do you create your art? Are you the kind of artist who plans his work, or the one who goes straight on the canvas and lets his mind (subconscious) flow whatever it dictates?</b></b></p> <p><b>Danny Castillones Sillada:</b> Any work of art, even a surreal art, undergoes a creative process, which includes mental and physical activities. As a surrealist, I rely heavily on cognitive and affective aspects of creative planning.</p> <p>The mental planning would take a few months to one year, accumulating all ideas and imaginary compositions in my mind, and when I am ready to paint, I would lay the concept first as rough sketches on paper (from here on, the process is automatic). Whatever percolates from my mind and emotions, I translate them on paper before actualizing the final concept on my chosen medium, e.g., canvas, wood or metal.</p> <p>If I were to explain the creative process based on the Aristotelian principle of causality, I should say that the “Telos” (final cause) or the artistic concept is already formed in my mind before it is actualized on my chosen medium.  The “efficient cause,” the prime mover of aesthetics, is both the mental and physical activity (the amount of energy that I spent during the creative process). The “material cause,” on the other hand, is, literally, the material that I used in art making, e.g., canvas, paint, wood and metal. The “formal cause” is the final shape and form of the composition, depicting any subjects or themes for the viewers to see or decipher.</p> <p>I also employ the same creative process in other fields of aesthetics, like poetry and short story writing, live art performances, photography, composing music, shooting and editing a documentary or short-short film and even in my philosophical essays and writings.</p> <p><b>Paulo Villones:  Do you have any influences? Are there any Filipino surrealists, whose works that you admired?</b></p> <p><b>Danny Castillones Sillada:</b> All artists, at some stages of their creative endeavors, have influences from the masters, so to say.</p> <p>In my younger years, when I was not yet a full-time painter (I was still studying priesthood in the seminary), I should say that Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, René Magritte, Marcel Duchamp and Vincent van Gogh were my inspirations and influences. Although, van Gogh was not a surrealist, but his overwhelming passion to create, which was bereft of fame and recognition in his time, became my inspiration to embrace my art in the latter part of my life.</p> <p><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/205597/8ta3/20120421042626-3._666_Wild_beat_Dreamer.JPG" alt="Wild Beast Dreamer by Bienvenido Bones Banez, Jr" width="300" style="float: left; margin: 10px;" />In our local art scene, I admire the works of Raul Lebajo (surrealist), Bienvenido Bones Banez, Jr. (a Filipino surrealist based in New York), Francisco Viri (his art of ‘soloism’), Eghai Roxas (his illusionism/abstractionism), Marcel Antonio (the theatrical composition of his figures), Federico Dominguez (his colorful ethnic art), Charlie Co (his works tread between folk art and surrealistic style) and Cesare A.X. Syjuco (his “Literary Hybrids”).</p> <p>Roxas, Viri and Dominguez are not surrealists, but I like the intensity and the vividness of their forms and colors. Although Marcel Antonio’s art is reminiscent of American figurative painters Francis Bacon and R. B. Kitaj, I consider him as a Shakespearean surrealist because his figurative paintings have the elements of classical drama and characters portrayed in a seemingly theatrical manner. Cesare A.X. Syjuco is not a surrealist either, but his art is tiptoeing between surrealism and conceptual art. His three-dimensional works create poetry in space, literally and figuratively. They are iconic collocations of symbolic images and literary texts fused together to create a unique aesthetic genre, known as “Literary Hybrids.”</p> <p>Among the younger generation of Filipino artists, I admire the works of Ronald Ventura (the hyper-realist of Filipino surrealism, if I may call it), Camille dela Rosa (she recently crosses over from impressionism to traditional surrealism; her works are swinging between grotesque and magic realism), Gromyko Semper (a traditional surrealist whose works are laden with intricate details) and Jon Jaylo (the René Magritte of Philippine surrealism), to name a few.</p> <p><b>Paulo Villones: Do you have any word of advice for any Fine Arts student aspiring to become a surrealist?</b></p> <p><b>Danny Castillones Sillada:</b> An aspiring surrealist must study and evaluate what is surrealism in the past as a movement and what surrealism today is, as an aesthetic style.  To become a surrealist is not an overnight choice; it is an attitude, perception and process of predisposing oneself to surrealistic method and technique.</p> <p>---------------------<br />  <br /> <i>(Paulo Villones is a Fine Arts graduate of the University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines. This Q &amp; A interview with Danny Castillones Sillada is part of his thesis on Cartoon Surrealism.)</i></p> <p>Published in <strong><a href="http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/357109/surrealism-philippines" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Manila Bulletin</a></strong>, April 16, 2012, Lifestyle Section (Arts &amp; Culture): p. E1-2.</p> <p></p> Sat, 21 Apr 2012 04:35:29 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/ny/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/ny/Articles/list Eavesdropped: Who Fathered the Philippine Conceptual Art? <p><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/205597/8ta3/20120416131526-Web__David_Medalla_with_his_kinetic_sculpture_Cloud_Canyon_in_1964_copy.JPG" alt="David Medalla with his kinetic sculpture Cloud Canyon in 1964" style="float: left; margin: 10px;" width="320" /></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">MANILA, Philippines – This writer overheard and indulged on the conversation of four artists and a writer in one of the Starbucks branches in the Philippines. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">“Who Fathered the Philippine <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conceptual_art" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Conceptual Art</a>?” asked the First Artist. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">“Are you kidding,” retorted the Second Artist, “it’s a damn mestizo bastard child of the Philippine art; there’s no way a Filipino artist could father it!” </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">The Writer, feeling messianic, replied with seemingly erudite narrative. “I think,” he said with soft but modulated voice, “the pioneer of conceptual art in the Philippines is <strong><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Medalla" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">David Medalla</a></strong> for his contribution to ‘<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinetic_art" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">kinetic art</a>’ in the early 1960s, akin to <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcel_Duchamp" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Marcel Duchamp</a>’s 1913 ‘wheel art,’ and other transitory works that he exhibited and performed across the continents. Besides, in the 1970s until now, Medalla is part of the syllabus of RISD (<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhode_Island_School_of_Design" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Rhode Island School of Design</a>), the top art school in the United States, for his pioneering kinetic sculptures which, no doubt, one of the earliest works of conceptual art since its inception in the mid 1960s.” </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">“If it is a bastard child of the Philippine art, there could be a mother?” sarcastically conjectured the Third Artist with vociferous laughter from his gargantuan mouth, ignoring the Writer’s <i>soliloquium</i> on David Medalla. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">“Well, I bet, the mother must be a woman, a writer or curator or art historian of sort, and she can proclaim or hail anyone, whom she favored the father of her bastard child,” the sardonic reply of the First Artist who fathered, nay, originated the conversation on the paternity of Philippine conceptual art. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">The Writer batted again and summed up his litany cum ‘barber’s logic’ by saying, “If Philippine conceptual art is a bastard child and we cannot establish who the father was, French or American, isn’t it logical to say that David Medalla is the godfather of the Philippine conceptual art?” </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Then, all of a sudden, the Fourth Artist, who had been silent all throughout the conversation roused from his sedate mood and exclaimed in a high-pitched voice, “What about <strong><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roberto_Chabet" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Roberto Chabet</a></strong>?” </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Everyone fell silent!</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p> Mon, 21 May 2012 01:16:45 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/ny/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/ny/Articles/list Symbolism, Culture, and Politics in Aesthetics (A conversation with multidisciplinary artist and writer Danny Castillones Sillada) <p><br /><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/205597/8ta3/20120404180118-1._Menstrual_Period_in_Political_History__2005__artwork_by_Danny_C._SILLADA.2JPG.JPG" alt="Menstrual Period in Political History, 2005, by Danny C. SILLADA" width="350" style="float: left; margin: 10px;" /><br />MANILA, Philippines – <b>Angelita Porteo:</b><em> “Menstrual Period in Political History” is your most “controversial” mixed media artwork in 2005. What is the parallelism of “Politics” and “Menstrual Period” and how does it relate to Philippine politics and culture?</em></p> <p><b>Danny Castillones Sillada:</b>  “Menstrual Period in Political History” is a mixed media on metamorphic rock or slate, with painted and carved vaginal form at the center. The visual narrative of the artwork amid its bleak background is not vociferous in contrast to the vibrant colors of my typical paintings. However, I never expected that its inconspicuous presence along with the title would become controversial in 2005.</p> <p>The parallelism of “Politics” and “Menstrual Period” is, obviously, the cyclical political turmoil in our country, which is periodic since the Marcos time up to the Arroyo regime. Like a woman’s menstrual period, Philippines politics has its own menstrual cycle in our country in the form of corruption, economic instability, violation of human rights, the involuntary disappearances of civilians, the century-old war in Mindanao, insurgency, poverty, and inadequacy of political leaders to address socio-economic and political  problems in our society, to name a few.</p> <p>Every time we elect a new president, we thought that he or she would make a difference in our country. Only to find ourselves frustrated in the end, because they only serve themselves (puera delos buenos), i.e., their families, cohorts, businessmen who cuddled them, and their political parties. And as I said in an interview by a South African writer: ‘Social justice and compassion for humanity are alien to Filipino politicians, they are like ‘vultures’ that feast and take advantage on the credulity of the masses.’</p> <p>Even the present government that I thought would address poverty, human rights violation, and corruption in the country has an inclination to favor the elite and cohorts in politics rather than the clamor of the Filipino people in general. The “Menstrual Period in Political History,” as I saw it now, is imminent if the president won’t exercise his strong political will. So far, I could not see any substantial changes yet; actually, I already stopped seeing anything because it would only give me or us a false hope.</p> <p>Our only hope is the next generation of politicians to see the concrete needs in our society, allowing us (the people) to define the true essence of democracy that is based on social justice, partnership in governance, and respect for human life and environment. It will take two to three more decades to pass for Filipino politicians to grow and become human (with compassionate and altruistic concern for Filipino people, particularly the poor).</p> <p><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/205597/8ta3/20120421034233-6._Fountain_of_Life__2006__nail_art_and_hydro-kinetic_sculpture_by_Danny_Castillones_Sillada_copy.JPG" alt=" Fountain of Life, 2006, nail art and hydro-kinetic sculpture by Danny Castillones Sillada" width="620" style="vertical-align: middle; margin: 10px;" /></p> <p><b>Angelita Porteo:</b> <em>Is symbolism indispensable in your art?</em></p> <p><b>Danny Castillones Sillada:</b> Symbolism is the heart of my aesthetics; it magnifies my thoughts and feelings, and the messages that I wanted to convey to the viewers.</p> <p>Essentially, any form of art is a symbolic representation of culture and society. Symbolism, in aesthetics, is a vehicle to reveal the Truth (good or bad) about the concrete condition of a historical society. From the moment a particular work of art is exhibited in public place, whatever the perception or interpretation of the viewers, the artist has no more control of it. Even if an artist did not intend to address, in a derisive manner, his or her work to any social or political issues, once a piece of art is disclosed to the society, it becomes a living symbol of social and cultural history.</p> <p>The “Menstrual Period in Political History,” for instance, may just be a mere symbol of vaginal form; however, it possesses the power to provoke the consciousness of the viewers in the context of social and political realities of our society. As an artist, I never expected that such symbolic element would stir mass media attention and some supporters of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo more than half a decade ago.</p> <p>Symbolism, therefore, in the context of aesthetics, has the power on its own to affect, influence, or transform the human perception; it will either irritate or inspire the viewers.</p> <p><b><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/205597/8ta3/20120404181022-Bandage_of_Faith__painting_by_Danny_C._Sillada_2.JPG" alt="Bandage of Faith, painting by Danny C. Sillada " width="350" style="float: left; margin: 10px;" />Angelita Porteo:</b> <em>How did you appropriate your culture or the place where you grew up with into your works? Is it connected to your painting, music, poetry, philosophical writings, or performance art?</em></p> <p><b>Danny Castillones Sillada:</b>  Yes, it is, because I believe that an artist cannot create something that is outside the realms of his or her experience. For instance, I write, compose and perform ethnic songs, which are reflective of my native roots in Mindanao. I use biomorphic forms in my painting with vibrant colors alluding to the pristine mountains and forests in my hometown. As a thinker, I write philosophical essays and reflections based on my academic training and perceptions of realities as a Mindanaoan. </p> <p>Aesthetics as a revelation of Truth is supposed to address the cultural and social conditions of the artist and his or her society. An art that is not rooted in one’s culture or history is a farcical art that has no bearing of one’s identity. Hence, I can say that my roots and culture have played an important role in my works; they gave a soul to my art and my identity as an artist.</p> <p><b>Angelita Porteo:</b> <em>How do you view surrealism?</em></p> <p><b>Danny Castillones Sillada:</b> Surrealism, as it started in France in the early 1920s by André Breton, emanates from anarchic perspective, using the subconscious (Freud’s psychoanalytic theory) and the automatist technique in art making.  It started not as a mere artistic movement, but as antithesis, which is revolutionary in nature, against the ugly realities of World War I and the status quo of bourgeois during that era.</p> <p>In my own perspective, surrealism represents human subconscious, thoughts, dreams, and memories. When they are translated into art, they become dream-like elements laden with symbols, arranged and juxtaposed in a rational manner.</p> <p>Surrealism today, in general, is an aesthetic style that addresses the shifting of reality in our post po-mo society through varied artistic practices and mediums, e.g., painting and installation art, graphic and digital art, film, cartoons and anime, photography, music, literary, performing arts, and even in commercial advertisements on the internet, print media, and the television.</p> <p>Most often, the surrealistic elements are cryptically encoded in the artworks, which are almost undecipherable by the viewers. At other times, they are just a mere travesty of forms and figures that do not mean anything, just a spectacular visual narrative to impress or shock the viewers.</p> <p><b><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/205597/8ta3/20120404181359-Sex_Scandal__Sensationalism__and__Paranoia__painting_by_Danny_Sillada_2.JPG" alt="Sex Scandal, Sensationalism, and Paranoia, painting by Danny Sillada 2" width="350" style="float: left; margin: 10px;" />Angelita Porteo:</b>  <em>Are you always conscious of forms and structures in your work or is it free-flowing coming from your subconscious?</em></p> <p><b>Danny Castillones Sillada:</b> Any artistic activity is a conscious activity, including surrealism; otherwise, no artist can accomplish anything if one is not conscious of one’s theme or subject.</p> <p>The consciousness, however, in surrealism, is not confined to literal interpretation, but dependent on the progression of thoughts, feelings, and memories during the creative process. Unlike the realistic painting, the subject is given, which has a realistic representation, e.g., tree, flower, landscape, and human figure. Surrealism, on the other hand, comes from the inner thoughts and feelings of the artist, using empirical images to signify something in a symbolic manner, e.g., a lollipop to signify a tree, a flower to signify a female’s sex organ, or a bent steel-bar to signify human figure.</p> <p>Hence, I can say that my creative process, as a surrealist, is between conscious and unconscious, rational and irrational, literal and symbolic, empirical and metaphysical. The derivation of my works, although they embody abstract and realistic elements, they come from my subconscious and conscious thoughts rather than purely empirical encounter. It is like painting one’s dream or writing poetry using metaphors and allegories.</p> <p><b>Angelita Porteo:</b> <em>When did you start your artistic career and how?</em></p> <p><b>Danny Castillones Sillada:</b> I started as a full time painter in the latter part of my life at the age of thirty after resigning as a young executive from the corporate world. But as an artist, per se, I started at the age of seven; I was already earning from drawing and painting up to my high school years in my hometown.</p> <p>After graduating from high school in 1982, I entered the seminary to become a priest, and, for ten long years, I hurdled seminary formation and academic studies in Philosophy, English Literature, Theology, and Pastoral Management. However, in 1992, six months before my conferment to the Sacrament of Holy Orders, I underwent personal crisis and spiritual vacuity in my vocation. I had to defer my diaconal ordination in order to discern further before committing myself completely to the Church.</p> <p>At that time, I was assigned as Assistant Prefect of Discipline in San Carlos Seminary, Juniorate Department, and taught Introduction to Sacred Scripture in College Department. Subsequently, I also took my MBA at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business in Makati City.  After my term in San Carlos Seminary as one of the Formators, I left and stayed in the church parish for a while.</p> <p>In early 1993, I was hired in an HMO company in Makati upon the recommendation of the late Jaime Cardinal L. Sin, D.D., then Archbishop of Manila, to the owner of the company. For three years, I built my career path in the corporate and almost every six months, since I started as a humble staff of an HMO Marketing and Corporate Relations Office, I was promoted to higher positions. During this time, I already started painting on weekends after office hours.</p> <p>Then, in December 1995, I decided to resign from my job despite a promising corporate career to become a full time painter.  I realized, then, that my real calling was in the art world, and going back to the Church was no longer my option.</p> <p>Since then, up to the present, I explored my art not only in painting but also in sculpture and installation art, poetry, songwriting, composing and performing tribal music, performance art, photography, short film and documentary, creative writing both in philosophy and literary, and critiquing and writing on art, film, literature, philosophy, and culture for Manila Bulletin.</p> <p><b>Angelita Porteo:</b> <em>How do you relate your art from your personality and private life? Is it all connected with your life?</em></p> <p><b>Danny Castillones Sillada:</b>  Of course, it is all connected; it is like the air that I breathe. My art is the only proof of my existence, the grounding of my being. Without it, my life would have been bland and boring.</p> <p>-- <strong>Angelita Porteo </strong></p> <p>-------------------------</p> <p>Published in <a href="http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/304088/symbolism-culture-and-politics-aesthetics" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Manila Bulletin</a>, Lifestyle (Arts &amp; Culture), p. E 1-2, February 13, 2011</p> Sat, 21 Apr 2012 03:45:19 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/ny/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/ny/Articles/list Cesare A.X. Syjuco: Thinking And Creating Within And Outside The Box (The Quiddity of ‘Concept’ and ‘Object’ in Conceptual Art) (Part I) <p align="center" style="text-align: left;"><i><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/205597/8ta3/20120402025811-1._Cesare_A.X._Syjuco_s_Sudden_Rush_of_Genius__2011_book___CD_of_poems_and_music_.jpg" alt=" Cesare A.X. Syjuco's Sudden Rush of Genius (2011 book &amp; CD of poems and music)" width="360" style="float: left; margin: 6px;" /></i></p> <p align="center" style="text-align: left;"></p> <p align="center" style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p> <p align="center" style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">MANILA, Philippines -- Imagine standing in the middle of an urban landscape pullulated with towering buildings, crisscrossing bridges and highways, unnerving cacophony of car engines, obtrusive signage glaring with neon lights, lofty billboards with half-naked women endorsing products, harried faces and footsteps scurrying on busy streets, stray cats and dogs walking and sniveling along the squalid pavements and alleyways. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Now, in a more claustrophobic ambience, imagine standing in the middle of a 20- square-foot art gallery filled with conspicuous images, signage and neon lights, albeit some art pieces are confined either within glass boxes or behind transparent acrylic panels. Texts and images become alive through the three-dimensional objects, coiled neon lights on the wall, and projected video on the floor. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Some images may conjure up nostalgia and decay. For instance, an emaciated bonsai tree bereft of leaves, a stone engraved with Latin words, or a sepia photograph of children sitting on the rocks by the sea. Other images may elicit psychological tension, like a wooden religious statue without a hand, an airplane about to take off, or a neon-lighted typeface that reads “perfection” with unlit letter “n.” </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">How such poignant imageries create a poetic and conceptual landscape in the human mind and senses is the ingenious creation of a literary iconoclast -- poet and conceptual artist <strong><a href="http://www.cesaresyjuco.com/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Cesare A.X. Syjuco</a></strong>. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"><b style="font-size: medium;"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">A Brief Glimpse on the History of Conceptual Art</span></b> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">In an 1885 foreboding novel “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”<i> </i>written by the proponent of existentialism the 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 –1900), a madman cried: “Gott ist tot!” or “God is dead!” Thereafter, that controversial avowal of God’s death would change the course of man’s perception of God and the world, and, later, reshape the history of art and literature from a spiritually- centered quest for beauty to a more concrete affair in the secular world. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">In 1917, three decades later after Nietzsche’s stark criticism on Christianity through his novel and philosophical writings, another ‘death’ was foretold and this time, the imminent death of classical art in the form of “urinal.” Precursor of conceptual art the French artist Marcel Duchamp (1887 –1968) transformed an ordinary readymade urinal into an objet d’art titled “Fountain” signed with his pseudonym “R. Mutt.” </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">From there, Marcel Duchamp paved the way for modern and postmodern art movements throughout Europe, America, and Asia, particularly the theoretical development of conceptual art. American artist Joseph Kosuth would later acknowledge Duchamp’s important role in conceptual art when he said that all art, after Duchamp, is conceptual in nature because art only exists conceptually (1969 essay “Art after Philosophy”). </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">But Conceptual Art did not emerge as a movement until the mid 1960s, with the notion of elevating and transforming any idea or concept into an artistic form using found and readymade objects, as auxiliary devices to the theoretical and conceptual approach of art making. Conceptual art, per se, subverts the conventional form of aesthetics with limitless possibilities –- dynamic, transformational and interactive. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Contrary to Dadaism and Surrealism that defy reason with emphasis on chance and the supremacy of dreams, conceptual art celebrates reason and sensual perception, imploring the participation of the audience to deduce and complete the meaning of any presented works (assemblages or installations) by the conceptual artists.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Some well-known practitioners of conceptual art across the globe are Robert Rauschenberg (1925 –2008), Solomon "Sol" LeWitt (1928–2007), Walter De Maria (1935–), Robert Smithson (1938– 1973), Lawrence Weiner (1942–), Joseph Kosuth (1945–), Jenny Holzer (1950–), and Damien Hirst (1965 --), to name a few. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">In the Philippines, the forerunners in their own respective styles and tendencies are David Medalla (residing and creating his art in different continents), Roberto Chabet, and Cesare A.X. Syjuco, among other senior and younger generation of artists who are swinging between painting or sculpture and conceptual art. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Perhaps, one of the powerful and influential bodies of works in the Philippine art scene that span three decades of art making, which is more than any Filipino contemporary conceptual artist could ever produce in his or her lifetime, is Cesare A.X. Syjuco’s works. His art is the crossbred of visual art and literature, mimicking literary texts and mass media campaigns. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Although Cesare A.X. Syjuco refuses to be labeled with any aesthetic style and genre, his artistic practice is the embodiment of conceptual art -- socially relevant, jarring and intellectually confounding. His works are reminiscent of an American conceptual artist Joseph Kossuth. But unlike Kossuth, who uses an open space to designate the elements of his works, Syjuco uses a defined space within space to collocate the binary elements of his compositions in a cohesive and logical manner. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Known as “Literary Hybrids,” Syjuco explores multifarious combination of literary and art references through his collocated “texts” and “visual” images. In the form of ‘media-collocation,’ he meticulously gathers selected elements (texts, images and objects) for his composition, meld and interlock them together within glass boxes or rectangular transparent acrylic panels, with the exceptions of neon lights and video projections that have found their respective spaces on wall, floor or ceiling. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">By fusing literature and visual art, his opus is an acerbic commentary on global culture, politics, commercialism and technology, imbued with witty intellection, irony and humor.<b> </b></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"><b style="font-size: medium;"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">The Quiddity of ‘Concept’ and ‘Object’ in Conceptual Art</span></b> </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/205597/8ta3/20120402030439-2._Cogito_Ergo_Sum_by_Cesare_Syjuco.JPG" alt="Cogito Ergo Sum by Cesare Syjuco" style="vertical-align: middle; margin: 6px;" width="620" /></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">In his 2010 exhibit, The Ancestry of Stone, at Gelleria Duemila, Cesare A.X. Syjuco carved “Cogito Ergo Sum” on a semi-flat stone and encased it inside a glass box. On the frontal surface of the glass is a phrase that reads: “:It means I love you in Greek. : No, Stupid. It’s Latin. : Whatever.” Judging from the two inscriptions both inside and outside the box, one can deduce an ostensibly out of context statements with no correlation at all. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">A closer look, however, reveals a subtle yet humorous way of anticipating the viewer’s reaction in case they fail to understand the Latin text inside the box. Their anticipated response is subliminally fed in their mind through the readymade answer outside the box. In this regard, the text serves as a point of reference (terminus a quo), vis-à-vis, to the text inside the box (terminus ad quem). </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">On the contrary, although both textual contents within and outside the box are both syllogistic concepts of the artwork yet, either one can become an “object” referring to each other’s symbolic meaning, depending on the subjective interpretation of the viewers. Although, the artist has already laid out the concept of his art yet, he also considers the ‘variables’ of interpretation: How the different viewers of diverse backgrounds, for example, might perceive his work as a whole. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">By providing a readymade answer outside the box, the artist wittingly engages the viewers to think beyond the ‘quiddity’ of an object and examine how it represents the concept of his composition. ‘Quiddity,’ by definition, comes from Latin “quidditas” (root words “quid, quis” or “who/what”), which refers to the “whatness” or “thingness” of an object or concept before it is used as a symbolic representation.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">The ‘quiddity’ of an object, as employed by this writer in conceptual art, is independent of the concept, but when it is used and conferred upon with artistic value, the object transforms its “whatness” and assumes a new epistemic meaning. What precedes the object is the main concept or idea of an artwork. Hence, the ‘quiddity’ of an object is always relative and variable congruent to the “concept” that it represents.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">But even the quiddity of any object or concept can assume its own locus when presented as an objet d’art contingent upon the ‘primum intentione’ (objective) of the artist. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">For instance, in Marcel Duchamp’s urinal, the artist blatantly presented the object as a work of art, no more no less, bereft of any symbolic meaning. In this manner, the quiddity of urinal becomes both the <i>terminus a quo</i> and <i>terminus ad quem</i>, the literal and the symbolic, the subject and the predicate. Considering its novel and innovative presentation, Duchamp’s urinal has become both the material and final cause of aesthetics in its highest form, comparable to the renaissance and classical art or any contemporary art, for that matter. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">In Cesare Syjuco’s “Cogito Ergo Sum,” he uses the quiddity of objects, e.g., stone, glass box, and ‘auxiliary text,’ to amplify his concept in a transformational and interactive manner. Similarly, the textual contents inside and outside the box interchangeably complement and play both as “concept” and “object,” depending on the construal of the viewers. What is outside the box can be an auxiliary object to signify the concept inside the box, or vice versa.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">For the viewers who are familiar with philosophers, they can immediately tell what inside the box (“Cogito Ergo Sum”) signifies by associating it to a French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes (1596 -1650). And, of course, “Cogito Ergo Sum” means “I think, therefore I am,” known also as a ‘Cartesian doubt,’ a methodological skepticism in rationalizing the truth of one’s existence or the truth in relation to God. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">But for the viewers who are alien to both philosophy and Latin language, the text inside the box can be abstruse and inconsequential. While the text outside (<i>:It means I love you in Greek. : No, Stupid. It’s Latin. : Whatever</i>) provides a readymade answer to the ‘what and why’ of the artwork as it percolates through their mind and senses. In fact, what is written outside the box is surreptitiously intended for them in a cynical manner. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">Hypothetically, to put it in a dialogic conversation, imagine three best friends discussing about the text (<i>Cogito Ergo Sum</i>) inside the box. Friend A says ironically, “It means I love you in Greek.” Friend B who feels intelligently superior among the three replies, “No, Stupid. It’s Latin.” But friend C, who does not give a damn what friends A nor B thought, exclaims, “WHATEVER.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"> Arguably, that is precisely the point of the artist! </span></p> <p><i style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">(Cesare A.X. Syjuco’s solo exhibit “A Life of the Mind” is ongoing at Galleria Duemila, 210 Loring Street, Pasay City, Philippines.)</i></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong><i>*</i></strong><i>Published in </i><i><a href="http://www.mb.com.ph/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Manila Bulletin</a> Lifestyle (Arts &amp; Culture), March 26, 2012, p. E1-2</i></span></p> <p><a href="http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/357764/cesare-ax-syjuco-thinking-and-creating-within-and-outside-the-box" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><strong><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium;">LINK to the PART 2 of the article.</span></strong></a></p> <p><i>----------------------</i></p> <p><span style="font-size: x-small; font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino;"><span style="font-size: small;"><em>ABOUT THE AUTHOR</em>:</span><strong> </strong></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino;"><strong><a href="http://dannysillada.weebly.com/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><span style="font-size: small;">DANNY CASTILLONES SILLADA</span></a></strong><span style="font-size: medium;"> <span style="font-size: small;">took a 180-degree detour from his vocation to the priesthood to embrace his artistic calling in the art world. He is a Filipino multidisciplinary artist, thinker, and writer – a surrealist painter, sculptor and installation artist, philosopher, multilingual poet, essayist, musician, performance artist, photographer, and an amateur indie filmmaker. He is also a critic-writer on art and culture in <strong><a href="http://www.mb.com.ph/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Manila Bulletin</a></strong>, one of the leading daily papers in the Philippines. </span></span></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: small;"> </span></span></span></p> Mon, 23 Apr 2012 14:26:30 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/ny/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/ny/Articles/list The Conceived, Lived and Shared "Lush Life" of Alfred "Krip" Yuson <p><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/205597/8ta3/20111113221430-Krip_Yuson_signing_his_book__Manila_Hotel__October_20__2011.JPG" height="306" width="386" style="float: left; margin: 10px;" /></p> <p></p> <p>MANILA, Philippines -- Some lesser known or unknown artists, literary writers, poets, philosophers and musicians may not be given due recognition while they are still alive.  When they die, some of them will suddenly be remembered, their body of works recognized and their private lives either mythologized or romanticized.</p> <p>But whether famous or not – to hang out and talk to them in person or get an autograph from their eager hands or by just watching them from a distance – one could feel that sublime feeling of gratefulness to have been born in their time.</p> <p>One well-known iconic figure in Philippine contemporary literature that this writer occasionally encounters is Alfred “Krip” Yuson – a poet, fictionist, and essayist par excellence. Despite his celebrity stature in both literary and art scenes, one would not feel constrained or intimidated by his self-effacing charisma. His propitious presence is reminiscent of a literary giant in Philippine history, the late National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin.</p> <p><a href="http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/341212/the-conceived-lived-and-shared-lush-life-alfred-krip-yuson" title="The Conceived, Lived and Shared &quot;Lush Life&quot; of Alfred &quot;Krip&quot; Yuson" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">READ MORE</a></p> Sun, 13 Nov 2011 22:16:20 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/ny/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/ny/Articles/list Five Former Beauty Queens amidst the Convoluted World of Art <p><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/205597/8ta3/20110801185915-Photo_1.jpg" height="291" alt="From top left counter-clockwise (1) “Sous-Sus” by Lani Lobangco, (2) “On the Rocks” by Maria Isabel Lopez, (3) “Imposing” by Evangeline Pascual, (4) “Melanie’s Mystique” by Melanie Marquez, (5) (Center) “Ondoy” by Nina Ricci Alagao. " width="357" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" /></p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p></p> <p><span style="font-family: trebuchet ms,geneva;"><i>“Believe it or not, I can actually draw.”</i> -- Jean Michel Basquiat, American artist</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: trebuchet ms,geneva; font-size: small;">MANILA, Philippines -- What do the five former beauty queens have to show in the art world that is already saturated with all kinds of ludicrous ‘isms,’ cyclical artistic themes, farcical and portentous art that feeds on ‘shock value,’ needless to mention the ejaculative aesthetic aggrandizement to viagrate the sale of the chosen few (known or unknown artists) in auction houses?</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: trebuchet ms,geneva; font-size: small;">Is there anything new and exciting that they can offer or is it just another showbiz platitude to create a sensation, i.e., show off their ostensibly artistic prowess and sell their art?</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: trebuchet ms,geneva;">On the contrary, their recently launched group exhibit titled “Art and Beauty” does not only create a stir (nay, a ‘tsunamic splash’), it also proves that beauty and brain can do more than just promote beauty products, walk down a catwalk at fashion shows, act in film, or appear on television, but also create sublime art par excellence.</span>  </span></p> <p><strong><span style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://mb.com.ph/articles/328979/five-former-beauty-queens-amidst-convoluted-world-art" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">READ MORE...</a></span></strong></p> <p><strong><span style="font-size: small;"></span></strong> </p> Mon, 01 Aug 2011 19:06:13 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/ny/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/ny/Articles/list