As its participation in the 2022 Art Fair Philippines, Galerie Roberto presents the recent work of visual artist-couple Brian Uhing and S-Ann Ch’i, on view from March 23 to April 1.
Brian Uhing is a Surrealist painter whose technique aspires to the sublimity of Venetian and Flemish painters of past centuries. Beyond the exquisite Hyper Realism of his technique, a seemingly disconnected object or figure insinuated into the visual narrative is so unexpected, the work is sure to give one pause. Brian Uhing’s explorative classical persuasion teases, harasses, and assaults the contemporary sensibility.
Uhing’s explicit engagement with Surrealism plunges us once again into the deep and dark regions of its origin. The French writer and poet Andre Breton, regarded as the leader and theorist of Surrealism, summed up its essence, crystalizing its unique power, in a quotation he had found in a book of verses by the Comte de Lautreamont, the nom de plume of Isidore Lucien Ducasse: “as beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on an operating table.” Henceforth the slogan of the Surrealists, the striking statement became the foundational impetus for many iconic Surrealist paintings, from artists as diverse as Salvador Dali, Man Ray, Rene Magritte, influencing even Chagall.
Scintillating surrealist scenarios, too, have emerged from Uhing’s canvases, succumbing to the strangeness – and happy fate – of confounding images wrenched from their original settings: plump, fleshy fruits magnified as oversized buttocks, breasts, and nipples, with their allusions to the reclining nudes, the sleeping Venuses of such Old Masters as Giorgione, Titian, Cranach, and Cabanel. Wizard of the Whimsical or Paladin of the Phantasmal, Brian Uhing persistently invests his works with mirth and humour, as witness his grand and noble ladies, disrespected with affection: here, a medieval damsel with her pallid visage caged within an upturned goldfish bowl, the displaced aquarium fish swimming round in the air; and there, milady with a towering bouffant, her neck-ruff transformed into glistening honeycomb, unruffled by the buzzing bees.
One might say these are the beautiful chance encounters that collide in the unfettered imagination of Brian Uhing.
Working at the opposite end of the painterly spectrum, S-Ann Ch’i departs radically from the visible world. She is an abstract expressionist, in the gestural vein. Likening the act of creation to the art of dance, she subscribes to the impetus and impulse of Action Painting, a phrase coined by the American critic Harold Rosenberg. Acknowledging her artistic debt to Jackson Pollock is, ironically, a brave but honest gesture, since the “all-over” technique of Pollock is technically and symbolically a spider’s web, from which only the intrepid and the plucky will daringly plunge into.
Lyrical Grace Note
As well, S-Ann Ch’i has engaged her sensibility with the Japanese sumi-e, or black ink painting. One feels that this affiliation is the lyrical grace note that allows her self-expression to resonate as a distinct, recognizable voice, rising above the visual clutter seen in the disheveled works of other artists who were merely channeling their infatuation with an adored and worshipped master.
In her interviews, S-Ann Ch’i has alluded to the metaphor of incense smoke and dance, both being choreographic and in ceaseless, balletic movement. Surely, she doesn’t paint in a trance but rather in an always alert state of consciousness. This brings to mind what a female Abstract Expressionist once replied to an interviewer who was puzzled by her technique: “I do not close my eyes and hope for the best.”
In her painting process, S-Ann Ch’i brings to bear both her spiritual brio and physical vigor, allow herself to arrive at dimensions and destinations she never expected or foresaw.
- CID REYES
S-Ann Ch’I is also product designer and a philanthropist.
Galerie Roberto is at Unit4, Molito Lifestyle Extension Bldg., Madrigal Avenue corner Commerce Avenu8e, Ayala Alabang Center, Muntinlupa 1770. For inquiries, call: (02) 8-809-1619 or 0931-017-5506.