Gallery: Ejem Alarcon “The Power of the Dog” @ArteBettina

curator’s note by Jay Bautista

In Man’s Best Friend, the sixth solo exhibition of Ejem Alarcon, he simplifies and further strips down all possible complexities in a painting. Against an obviously stark white background, Alarcon leaves out only the barest essentials espousing the most basic core of dogs as the closest and most lovable creatures known to humans.

A fine arts graduate Alarcon had to unlearn what he was taught in college by breaking conventional artistic traditions–paying little attention to perspectives and perceptions. His canvases are void of people as outsized dogs sometimes with other animals surreally on top, portraits canine often in a jolly mood complete with party hats to share light banter in these trying and desperate times.

For Alarcon, furry dogs—some endangered, endemic and even personal–are his preferred creative images during the pandemic. Scientific findings say dogs have been the best against loneliness as they want to be around their owners and love to please them. They are good company for walks as it lowers the blood pressure. Lastly they are the most loyal animals we know. As the saying goes, you have to kick me out like a stubborn dog.

In this third solo exhibition, Alarcon continues to be As early as seven years old Alarcon’s fondness for dogs started to grow. He even opted to become a dog trainer himself and has multiple bites as badges of honor in keeping them. Canine for him symbolizes guidance, faithfulness, loyalty and alertness. He extended his passion by illustrating them on canvas.

An omnipresent eye on the two main masterpieces with the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and Dachshund as it remains a constant as it symbolizes love, reality and respect in Greek mythology. while some cartoon characters like Smurf and Porky make their cameo appearances, adding a bit of retro-pop culture while birds King Fisher, Parrot, Dove and Eye Ring Bird flutter to decorate and complete the picture. Evident by his being aggressive as he is king of his abode, this fiercest of dogs wears a crown. Reminiscent also of his being a Bansky fan.

Humility is emphasized as such that St, Bernard is bigger than a Dalmatian and Siberian Husky but looks huggable. The Cocker Spaniel, which is the Queen of England’s pet is evidently unmindful of his royal lineage is permitted to interact with them. Alarcon wants his canvases light and fun to the hilt. Other breeds are King Charles, American Nully, Pug, Akita, Golden Retriever, Beagle, and Snauzher

Notice how his signature party hats put smiles to his subjects–life is a gift and every day we should use it to spread the good cheer that we are alive and well. Fond of nostalgia, as a bringer of happiness, he fills in his canvasses again with animation of yore from Tom and Jerry, Bart, Richie Rich, Snoopy, Donald Duck and even Bearbrick Batman and Bearbrick Mickey Mouse are features spread out on other canvases.

Inspired by documentaries Alarcon sketches his studies as big ideas strike him. Upon translating them on paper he composes further on the computer before finalizing his images on canvas. Of his long and arduous process, he finds painting his subjects’ diverse furs most soothing. Alarcon certifies each artwork with a seal-like vintage coin as signature.

These pieces are wrought with behaviors and attitudes similar to amalgam of virtues. For the viewer they may be of unstructured pop surreal imagery, for Alarcon each canine were carefully chosen amplifying values worth emulating. The strength of Alarcon’s imagery is how easy for the viewer to imbibe his messages like it is offered in- your-face for the taking, leaving the exhibition more learned and feeling better about yourself.

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Arte Bettina, 3rd Level,

Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center,

Legaspi St., Makati City 1228

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