Ricky Ambagan, Gerry Joquico, Toti Cerda and CJ Tañedo in this four-men-exhibition titled FOUR CAME BACK exemplifies the art of homage by infusing their personal stories in their selected masterpieces. Aptly staged to create discourse, these four distinguished artists presented dialogues that might be mislabeled as any other device of pastiche and iterations, instead they invite the audience to analyze their recomposed masterpieces, look at its symbols and feel its mood to understand why they have transformed its narrative.
Either museums housed masterpieces of sorts to honor their creators or present it chronologically to highlight historical significance, it is but considered as ‘dead art’, unless otherwise revisited and analyzed and repurposed to resonate the present period. Thus, arguably making it sincere, universal, and timeless. Disputable as it may sound, a museum is comparable to a mausoleum for the collections housed in it have lost their original purpose. Art and its production are to answer the need of its time. When Juan Luna created the Spoliarium, it was not just his metaphors nor supreme skills that merited him to win the gold medal in the 1884 Exposition in Madrid but more importantly his adherence to the trend.
Artworks must be mural in dimensions and must depict neoclassicist ideals unless otherwise it cannot enter the salon as a rule. The same could be said of Vermeer who lived during the Baroque period where historically speaking was breathing in an era where artists have the privilege of creating their own devotional and personal undertakings which are now secular art. The existing religion practiced by the ruling monarchs played its role as well in influencing artists and their works. Jacque Louis David created his ‘French Revolution’ painting to commemorate the victory of the people against tyranny. Consequently, art is an offshoot of not just the artists’ genius and creativity but was born of necessity influenced by ideals, train of thought, cultural upbringing, political environment, and societal concerns.
Every art is therefore intended and was presented purposely as ‘practical art’, for it was created to serve its purpose and the creators of it endeavored to integrate beauty and function to the limits of what their art would allow. Truly enough, artists are vessels and chronicles at the same time. Goya painted pictures not only of pure fantasy which was apparent in his ‘black series’ but was able to produce it out of his fear, horror and dismay as a witness on the cruelties of war.
Practical art could be seen in the works of Ambagan, Joquico, Cerda and Tañedo for they not just associate their works with the masters whom they have been inspired with. The four intended their rebirthed masterpieces as harbingers of their personal stories in this ongoing pandemic period. To say that their devices are purely artificial is an understatement. The realizations and reflections on life’s meaning and purpose transcends in their works and to channel it with practicality as their theses.
These four artists came back from the past and unfold what history has taught them. As holders of historical, spiritual and philosophical concepts, they have presented in this exhibition narratives that not just imitate old master works for the sake of fancy reproduction rather they channel out their roles as enablers and conversationalists.
Art’s essential character is to instruct its creator consciously and unconsciously to make something out of nothing in order to secure goodness and perfection not of the maker who is only its medium but of the art they produced. Art therefore significantly belongs to the practical order of producing things particularly if its maker has given his or her heart, mind and soul in it.
This is the power of art.
“FOUR CAME BACK” will open on October 6, 2021, at Art Anton, G/F, S Maison, Conrad Hotel Manila, Marina Way, Mall of Asia Complex Pasay City, Philippines. Exhibition runs until October 20, 2021. Email email@example.com for more details. Word by Abe Orobia