Stories within Stories Unrolls Nova’s Mission to “Design Events Perfect for You”

NOVA MANILA GALLERY’s year-starter MENTAL SHOTGUN gives audiences an alternative way to appreciate a group exhibit as Curator WIPO presents 39 works by seven artists as a six-panel visual story—DIY do-it-yourself style!

Instead collating the works by artist, genre, medium, or school, WIPO collates and collages 3 works by Melbourne AQUINO, 9 by Fitz HERRERA, 5 by Nasser LUBAY, 5 by Demi PADUA, 9 by Sam PENASO, 3 by Joel QUIÑONES, and 5 by himself to transform the two-level gallery into a two-storey storybook.

Reading from left to right—with the Introduction, Beginning, and Climax—then up the stairs with Resolution and Ending—toward the big bright red Conclusion in Lubay’s Genesis (85”×120” oil on linen).

In/for MENTAL SHOTGUN, the end is ironically the beginning—and the only solo-work panel!—just as Lubay’s Seasons Series for the show traces the cycle of life and growth. From being a Multimedia Arts student at the Mapùa to being a Jollibee Youth Ambassador, Lubay took part in the 2010 Ondarte International Artist Residency in Mexico and has helped establish the arts and theater company Artists Playground. 

Using archival ink in rendering his trademark biotic and organic scallop detail from his big European breakthrough work—“the novel from which his succeeding works derive stories from”—Lubay asserts his position as the only Filipino to win in the 2009 Celeste International Art Prize in Berlin, Germany!

Tracing back the colorful thread are Quiñones’s untitled pieces—two enigmatic gold pieces peeling off to reveal intriguing subplots and one large architectonic starburst as colorful as Lubay’s but less representational, more cardiac—and WIPO’s Overkill Series #s 2–5 (16”×20” acrylic on canvas). WIPO has ventured from working with finer to more dynamic and free-flowing, often unpredictable, linescapes achieved through a continuous process of drawing and destroying until the desired drama is achieved.

Both Fine Arts graduates, Quiñones is from the Far Eastern University while WIPO is from the University of the East– Kalookan.

The tension begins to tighten as colors and forms begin to wrestle with the canvas and wrench themselves off the surface. Such as in Herrera’s deliciously thick and tricky play-in-palette variations-of-a-theme eye candies, The Portrait of the Love Monster #1 and Silent Explosion Series #s 1–8 (12”×12” acrylic on canvas), bold tributes to the emotions and to unrestrained freedom.

Herrera, a full-time artist who grew up in Nueva Vizcaya and has had 14 solo shows, is an Advertising graduate from the University of the East– Kalookan (UE–K). He has won 3rd Prize in the 2004 MADE Metrobank Painting Competition and 2nd Prize in the 2010 GSIS Abstract Competition.

Moving forward, colors start to take on literal shape as they form themselves into letters and emerge–hide their real subject and themes behind an alphabet soup of sounds, syllables, and incomplete, chopped up words in what Aquino calls Lettering Abstractions. Inspired by post-election scenario of public walls peeling with posters and campaign materials, his mixed media works for MENTAL SHOTGUN are Raconteur I–II (17”×18”) and Morning with Glori (36”×36”).

A full-time artist, Aquino is a Fine Arts–Painting graduate of the University of the East–Kalookan, where he founded the SiningGang Art Group in 1998. He received two Honorable Mentions in the 2014 AAP Annual National Painting Competition and a First Honorable Mention in the 2011 GSIS National Painting Competition.

But stories as in real life is never always flat—though beautiful and colorful and vibrant—being hard and edgy—often jarring and of mixed emotions as well as textures and multifaceted—difficult and heavy as in the three-dimensional works of Padua and Penaso.

Another full-time artist from the Far Eastern University who has had six solo exhibitions, Padua prepared a series in aluminum and other found materials for MENTAL SHOTGUN called The Art Group Series. Literally a story in five sequences—from The Model (12”×12”) to The Apprentice (19.25”×19.75”)—with each subject being a history in itself.

Padua, who has had six solo exhibitions, won Grand Prize in the 2013 Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas TANAW Art Competition and 2nd Prize in the 2011 GSIS Art Competition (Nonrepresentational Category). He hails from Oriental Mindoro.

Rounding up the featured artists and the story conference are multidisciplinary artist Penaso’s welded metal sets Metalscape 20–21 and Scrapture 17 alongside his mixed media series Whitescape.

A painter, sculptor, and performance artist, he has had 24 solo exhibitions (seven of which were in Japan, Thailand, Austria, Germany, Singapore, New York, and Abu Dhabi). He also won Grand Prizes in the 2014 and 2016 GSIS Art Competition and in the 2012 AAP Annual Art Competition as well as 3rd Prize in the 2001 Metrobank Young Painter’s Annual Art Competition. Penaso who hails from Bohol is a Fine Arts Advertising graduate of the Technological University of the Philippines.

Despite simultaneous events during that night, the spatial storybook has had its share of loyal “readers” in attendance. With the featured artists—with the exception of Herrera—were NOVA’s Assistant Director Ali ALEJANDRO and Gallery Curator Pat FRADES. They were joined by Theater Icons Roeder CAMANAG and Jesse LUCAS of Artists Playground, Ricky GALLARDO of Talent Factory, and Writer Philip PARAAN of Escuella Taller de Filipinas Foundation with Architect Kevin NIEVES of Headroom.

Always, it will be refreshing to experience an exhibit as a whole—whether as a single statement, a longer narrative, or as a big picture—instead of by parts—as multiple statements, grab bag of stories, or as details—like we have been accustomed to. That is, hard as it might be to see the bigger picture after having grown accustomed to seeing things as they come as they are. Let’s take a shot at it—and free our minds!

Since there might not be anyone there to walk us through every time, it is best to start learning how to accept the impressions and memories and thoughts that come our way—every time a experience hits us head on.

 runs from 21 January 2017 to 3 February 2017 at Nova Gallery Manila at Warehouse 12 of the La Fuerza Compound along Don Chino Roces Avenue in Makati.


Article by Camilo Mendoza Villanueva Jr. of ArtExpands