Pacena and Calubayan tackle the autobiography in two exhibits
Buen Calubayan and J. Pacena II are ending 2012 with art as autobiography. That is, with works borne of the personal documentation of identity.
That they are disengaging from the personal in the act of artmaking, that they are refusing the default personas that these images, these documents, these archives of the past represent, is in itself a paean to the continuous struggle of the artist with the self. That this is the thread that ties these two distinct exhibits together speaks of these two artists' daring.
Calubayan takes over the gallery space in December, with “Fressie Capulong.” Working from archival research on his own family, what these paintings become are the artist’s reckoning with these materials’ factuality on the one hand, his disavowal of it on the other. The act of unearthing documentation as proof of one’s identity is the struggle the artist decides to engage in, consciously refusing to accept the notions of wholeness that these materials inevitably create. Calubayan does not romanticize the idea of fragmentation and identity here; instead what is here is the artistic persistence to negotiate a space that is tangible in the present. That these happen in the form of portraits is a tangent that carries the weight of responsible portrayal given the necessary refusal to do such.
Certainly, personal and confessional art is as old as creativity itself. But there is daring in the act of navigating these spaces between past and present, memory and documentation, nostalgia and fact, when it is allowed to become the inevitably violent reassessment of identity given history, self beyond proof of mere existence. That Calubayan and Pacena dare work within this violence is ultimately what makes their processes of autobiographical artmaking here less personal, and just more powerful. -- Katrina Stuart Santiago, November 2012.
Buen Calubayan’s “Fressie Capulong” from December 8 to December 29 2012.
Blanc Gallery, Peninsula Manila, Makati City.
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