Odes on a gossamer existence: The works of Hae Ryun, Christian Carillaza and Jem Magbanua

At Galerie Stephanie, the works of Hae Ryun in The Wind Comes In A Thousand Ways, Christian Carillaza in Bintana and Jem Magbanua in Scattered Clouds, Disappearing Mist draw viewers in to a series of scenic introspections and imbue the gallery walls with a Keatsian longing for relief from the tedium and pressures of modern life.

Works from The Wind Comes In A Thousand Ways by Hae Ryun. Image courtesy of Eric B. Medoza.

Designed by Liv Vinluan, the exhibition opens up the gallery space, endowing the white-cube environment characteristic of the modern and contemporary art gallery with a homely sense of warmth and ease. Individuals are at liberty to drift around, their bodies and senses in harmony with the works of art. In viewing the three shows, the visitor is invited to walk, step back, zoom in, crouch down, meander, sit, pause. One’s line of sight does not remain linear nor in stasis: works hang long and high, close and far apart, in line and out.

Works from Bintana by Christian Carillaza and Scattered Clouds, Disappearing Mist by Jem Magbanua. Images courtesy of Eric B. Medoza.

Such an awareness of space resounds in the works of the exhibiting artists, each of whom turn to the vastness and wildness of the natural world for guidance on navigating their own lived realities. 

To find repose amid the constant flux of time is the core objective of Hae Ryun’s The Wind Comes In A Thousand Ways. Taking the flimsy fabric of reality as her medium, her works chart the scenic processes of surrendering herself to nature, of finding herself, and of giving herself “the gift of paused time”.

Images courtesy of Eric B. Medoza.

Ryun’s fine-tuned orchestrations of color and texture embody the trappings of a slippery existence, yielding to the ebb and flow of time. In her paintings, scenes of lush foliage and calm pools are interspersed by bursts and streaks of color that catch us observers in a momentary flurry of sound and wind. 

Image courtesy of Eric B. Medoza.

A series of monochromatic diptychs, Christian Carillaza’s Bintana offers just as promised: windows into the artist’s soul. In Carillaza’s works, we are at once invited to look but are barred from being fully immersed, if only by the reminder of an accompanying painting: the mouth of a cavern obscured by a figure, backlit clouds on otherwise clear skies, the ocean through a peephole.

The silence of Carillaza’s fields, skies and seascapes affords them the peace and stillness found only deep within one’s inner landscape. Vast and unperturbed, the waters move only to the breeze and the sun’s ray. In direct opposition to the reality he inhabits, this imagined state provides the breathing space the artist yearns for. 

Images courtesy of Eric B. Medoza.

Bearing influences from Japanese culture, Magbanua’s artistic practice is laden with thoroughgoing intentionality and demonstrates a keen awareness of her surroundings. As with Ryun and Carillaza, her practice is one that retreats to nature, to ruminate and, eventually, find comfort in the transience of things. 

In graphite, she charts the conditions of existence we oftentimes find difficult to grasp, never mind grapple with: birth, flourish and decay. Her works aim to capture the fleeting and elusive notions in soft silvers and greys that vary from barely legible to deeply pronounced though never truly opaque.

Bereft of color, her works appear as quiet contemplations, sombre and preoccupied with the tensions between the natural and artificial, order and disorder, and what lies within and without. As quickly and suddenly as these states teeter from one to the other, so do the monochromatic verdure of Magbanua’s works exist ambiguously, caught between sprouting and dissolving right before our eyes. 

A lightness permeates the shows at Galerie Stephanie, as each exhibiting artist opens a space for one to collect one’s thoughts and find grounding by way of reconnecting with the natural world. Ardent in their pursuit of liberation from the banalities of earthly existence, we look to these works as itineraries toward sublime abandon.

The Wind Comes In A Thousand Ways, Bintana, and Scattered Clouds, Disappearing Mist continue at Galerie Stephanie, located in Shangri-La Plaza, Mandaluyong City, until May 21.