I L L U M I N A T I O N S
By Joy Mallari
19th Feb - Collectors' Preview and Vernissage
20th to 23rd Feb - General public viewing
Booth 14, Tin-aw Art Gallery
6F, The Link
P 150 - regular rate
P 50 - student rate
Artist Joy Mallari revives the folk figure of the Bakunawa for an exhibition at the forthcoming Contemporary Art Fair Philippines. Titled Illuminations, the exhibition retells the folklore of how eclipses came to be: a primordial story about the delicate balance between the heavens and the earth. Retold in various forms, the Bakunawa myth is about a fearsome dragon or sea serpent that devoured six of the moons that illumined the night skies. It was said the creature lived with a sibling or a lover, who travels to land bringing seawaters with her. As most folk legends reveal, it is human folly that disrupts the latent harmony of the cosmos.
Lowland dwellers kill the harbinger of the seas and earn the ire of the Bakunawa who then proceeded to swallow six of the skies’ seven moons. Alarmed that only one moon was left and of the ensuing darkness if this last orb is swallowed whole, Bathala advised village folk to make relentless sounds to drive the creature away. They succeeded by banging on pots and pans but had to make do with the last moon left.
Mallari wields her singular gift of narrative to render afresh a myth that explains the often unfathomable turns of the cosmos. She unravels in sentient beauty these stories, dispersing their sequence through a most compelling approach to the figure and a delicate yet entrancing fabrication of their milieu. In Joy Mallari’s art pieces, there is familiarity tempered by somber enigma which she fashions in meticulous and fine-grained manner.
For Illuminations, she retells the myth of the eclipse across art formats and mediums. These include wall bound works and a central sculpture piece. Here, she recasts the gleam of moons lost when harmony is shattered. By resuscitating a story passed by word- of-mouth into the many dimensions afforded by image and three-dimensional forms, she recasts for her present-day audiences age-old knowledge in danger of being mired in forgetfulness. Indeed, if there is anything central to survival in a world where lasting harmonies are bygone if not illusory, memory is one such vigorous means. Joy Mallari in her artistic practice, her choice of themes to explore and the materials and methods best to convey them, grasps the extent of recollection’s reach and conveys it in potent and moving ways.