Structure and Collapse
Bahay Aliwan, visual artist Max Balatbat's latest one-man exhibition of recent works, showcases the artist's distinct style of architectural abstraction: paintings whose shapes, textures and hues are derived from functional and lived structures. Figurative forms are deconstructed and broken down, hinting at construction and collapse.
The paintings in Bahay Aliwan revisit the forms of urban spaces: the nooks, crannies and surfaces of the cramped metropolis, its places where desire, destitution, and desperation emanate. During his younger years, Balatbat recalls having scoured the hidden places of his home city, straddling sites of danger, dereliction and curiosity.
The images resulting from these sojourns and interactions continues to be an undercurrent defining the artist's body of work. As a painter, Balatbat's sense of abstraction simultaneously recreates yet deconstructs these realities. Balatbat builds each layer of the structure, juxtaposing planes, motifs and colors in this process of constructing a remembered space. His palette recalls actual textures and hues, increasingly isolated from their original contexts: the gray of concrete and cement, the interplay of shadows, skin and light.
As a visual artist, Balatbat's practice also culls from the remnants and recollections of his lived past: visiting derelict and condemned territories within the urban landscape. These are themes which have surfaced in his previous exhibitions, and which continue to reverberate in his present works.
Bahay Aliwan, for instance, brings the viewer to yet another of the uncharted territories that Balatbat has traversed and explored: a house of forbidden pleasures and illicit transactions, hidden yet flagrant in its existence. In contrast to the straightforward and overt title of the exhibition, Balatbat's abstract paintings cover and obscure what lies within its walls, indulging in a play of surfaces and structures. Planes and geometric forms overlap, recalling the makeshift forms of shanties and urban blight.
As a whole, the exhibition demonstrates Balatbat's growing ease with abstraction as his preferred mode of representation. As part of the artist's unfolding landscape of images, Bahay Aliwan presents a montage of reality that hints at the hidden stories of the city.
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Art Verite' Gallery
2/F Shops at Serendra
Bonifacio Global City
March 23, 2013
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