Free Range Aesthetics: Pussyfooting Through the Detritus Mind Field of Reality
Featuring: Arvin Flores, David Griggs, Manuel Ocampo, Juan Carlos Quintana, Carlo Ricafort, and Gerry Tan
Free-Range Aesthetics: Pussyfooting Through the Detritus Mind Field of Reality features wall to wall installation of paintings and drawings, sculpture and found objects, texts, prints, and other studio work, which explore the nature of artistic collaboration testing the boundaries of authorship, taste, style, content, design, concept, and production strategies within the context of geographical distance and cultural conditions (from Manila to San Francisco), social issues, individual contribution and preference, time and material, contemporary aesthetics, philosophy and politics, all made flexible by the rules of friendship. This exhibition is a collaborative project of Artists Formerly Known as (my) Friends which strongly believes that collaborative projects tend to fall apart and fail eventually like purported friendships do, but with artistic humor and skillful witicism, time spent having fun can be worth all the trouble.
Artists Formerly Known as (my) Friends originate from Manila, Philippines and San Francisco, CA, comprising of Arvin Flores, David Griggs, Manuel Ocampo, Juan Carlos Quintana, Carlo Ricafort, and Gerry Tan. Arvin Flores was born in Manila and makes abstract paintings that explore language in the form of writing as related to concepts of autonomy and indeterminacy. David Griggs is an Australian artist currently living and working in Manila, who uses urban leitmotifs in his paintings and installations that question the control protocols pervading within private and public domains. Manuel Ocampo started his career in Los Angeles but is now based in Manila, consistently making work that unmask the illusion of the real by subverting social belief systems through visual pranks laced with sobering thought. Juan Carlos Quintana is a self-taught artist of Cuban lineage whose work challenges conventional representations of identity, ethnicity, politics, and history through imaginative psychodramas that illuminate the individual's plight against dehumanizing standardization. Carlo Ricafort was born in Manila who lives and works in San Francisco CA, making work that involves free-associative commentaries on society and history through innovative designs that blur representation with abstraction. Gerry Tan explores the "work of art in the age mechanical reproduction" questioning sites of meaning and experience through an endless array of multiples reverse-engineered into originals, he lives and works in Manila. This exhibit at Skyline College will be Artists Formerly Known as (my) Friends' third presentation as a collaborative group. In 2009 they exhibited at Finale Art Gallery in Manila and at A440 Gallery in San Francisco, and forthcoming at the Freies Museum in Berlin, Germany.
Free Range Aesthetics: Pussyfooting Through the Detritus Mind Field of Reality presents a radical departure from standard renditions of art and common representations of social life through a collaborative process that corrects the ostensible truth of reality into a dysfunctional realism closer to the unfettered truth of the imagination. This project confronts issues of minor narrative as pertaining to abject existence, the exorcism of cultural idiosyncrasy, humor as subversive social strategy, and the formation of alternate languages that critique the hierarchy of class, taste, politics, and aesthetics.
Now that formal pleasantries has been made, what the show actually does is avoid the usual excuses attached to works of art which are set to have them do cute but stupid pet tricks just to fill the vapid space that constitutes the passing of human existence as feel good entertainment and cultivate moral posturing, as well as validate authoritative grounds masked as communal worship space in order to gain more follower tithes. To put it simply, art made as decoy for harsh life. Such smoke and mirrors gimmicks include: presenting socio-political critique on conditions that may or may not be applicable for art to address since art may not even have the capability to elicit such a critique, in other words it is inarticulate, since it is merely part of the system of things which it critiques - as part of the problem; next, for art to illuminate philosophical and psychological analysis about our being in the world which most people mistake art as the philosopher or the psychiatrist when art is merely the sofa that the poor viewer is lying on, and this proves why art is always considered a furniture; lastly, for art to produce "beauty" so as to give pleasure or comfort that may alleviate suffering - that itself is a contradiction, because as the saying goes one person's trash could be another's treasure, and this we are going to prove. Not to forget also, that the show is not aiming to present something political, that induces activism or participation that will change the world, or at least within the radius of this gallery, such is the task given to officials that we are responsible to elect, and not bestowed to the janitors of dysfunctional social reality that most artists tend to become unwittingly.
Since "the bride is fully stripped bare" and we long to "leap into the void" - wink wink and thanks to Marcel & Yves, what the generous viewer should expect are: a collection of colliding and conflicting expressions or styles, ideas, subject matter, images, patterns, colors, size, formats, display, attention span, agendas and desires, contexts, narratives, techniques, application, dimensions, forms, appearance, so on so forth, which becomes a hybrid macho consuming monster that mistakes its tail as the head, hands as reproductory organs and members, feet as mouth, or beard as brush, but ultimately concocting a magical spell that can only be understood by a few initiates, those who are visionary but alienated, strong but sarcastic, generous but protective, smart but inchoate, tasteless but joyful, traditional with a penchant for the taboo, lollygagging but always ahead of the pack, not post-modern nor post-colonial nor post-mortem but only and actually just art meant for everyone. There will be a lot of (depictions of) shit, skull and bones, tattoos, cats, slogans, crossword puzzles, do-it-yourself paint designs, sad sacks, hobos, mutants, mutant monsters, urban decay, flies, religious iconography scandalized, political symbols made pathetic, abstract forms that are full of meaning by just filling the space with a lack of anything to say, and your one and only not garden variety but once in a lifetime artistic rumble. What the show is therefore, is an unbridled expression of free range aesthetics pussyfooting through the detritus mind field of reality.