August 3, 2016 - August 15, 2016
Donna Sy, Lindsey James Lee 'Lindslee'
Makati Shangri - La Manila
“Painting gives me the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.” Thus the American abstractionist Krista Harris shares her sentiment about her chosen vocation. No doubt, it is a feeling universally shared by all artists of whatever persuasion. Harris nails it on the head: the extreme ends of the emotional spectrum are not unknown to the artist consumed by passion for his/her art. Not surprisingly, the reader or viewer will instinctively, and by reflex, equate this lament or exaltation with a neurological affliction known as bipolar complex. It’s always a case of: Deal with it.
So, too, are the polarities in visual expressions attendant in our gallery-viewing experience. The succession of art movements has been characterized by an action/reaction pendulum, swinging in opposing directions. Abstraction once buried representation, and as if with a vengeance, classical realism made a “come-back”, thus effectively pronouncing abstraction as beyond the pale, which, in turn staged its own resurrection from the grave. Will any idiom ever have the upper hand? Is that even the question to ask? Suffice it to say that art is a constant celebration, which, in the words of that solitary artist, Agnes Martin: “I wish you could get this across – that response is what matters in the art field. It’s not an intellectual field at all. The intellect is a hazard in artwork.”
Not a stranger to the swinging of the pendulum, single moniker Lindslee has seen it all, either as an observer or a practitioner. In his recent works, which he calls “Combines” – possibly an allusion to Rauschenberg’s conflation of painting and sculpture which were also called “Combines” –Lindslee pursues a different tack from the famous Pop progenitor. In paired paintings, to be considered inseparable, the artist first creates one work, which he subjects to a scrupulous scrutiny. Finding elements, details, areas or passages, which are not to his liking or fail to meet his approval, he then excises these
“offending” parts, leaving behind cut-out spaces, a void that has become hollow space. Lindslee then transfers them as collages to a second painting, where they then find their ideal placement, presumably revitalized in a more ideal environment. This process of spatial configuration is Lindslee’s exercise in the search for a memorable form and design, at the impetus of a formal investigation.
Looking at the works of Donna Sy, an image hovers persistently in the mind: the armless Venus de Milo, blindfolded and gagged. It is not an inappropriate image, for the artist ‘s sensibility must surely have been mediated by her long association with Greece. The three works, titled “See No Evil,” “Hear No Evil,” “Speak No Evil” have a cultivated contemporary look, existentially anchored to present-day realities, as is amply demonstrated by another work titled “Tequila Nights.” On the town, on an evening of libation, the multiple figures remind one of the characters in the paintings of the artist R.B. Kitaj, more so, the compositional design of space, which our very own National Artist BenCab, has acknowledged as a strong influence on his work. This may be purely coincidental on the part of Donna Sy, but it is a reassuring glimpse at her style, and thus speaks volumes.
The idea of pairing these two artists, who in fact have not met in person, is a performance in itself, a curatorial gesture that reiterates the identification of artists with each other, at a level of communication that hums on subconscious mode, like the fluttering of butterfly wings causing a tidal wave.
These two events, like the works of Lindslee and Donna Sy, while
seemingly unrelated, are themselves a projection of polarities, where the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows, may come unbidden.
----- CID REYES