FCPM: Alee Garibay and that Feeling in Her Art

The Artist

Ultimately feeling – this is how one can describe the works of Alee Garibay. Taking off of her solo online release for Cartellino, Unknowing Spark, we asked her to give some insights into her works, and into her process in general.

“What would happen if we used our bodies to bargain

for the safety of others, for earth,
      if we declared a clean night, if we stopped being terrified,

       if we launched our demands into the sky, made ourselves so big
      people could point to us with the arrows they make in their minds,

       rolling their trash bins out, after all of this is over?”

The starting point perhaps here is Ada Limon’s Dead Stars – an excerpt of which is above –  where humans are very slightly eased into a more unified and considerate state of mind vis-a-vis the world around them. Garibay recounts growing up in Cavite (a part quite connected to nature via distance from the city proper), then an early education up a Laguna mountain which then transitioned to university life in “the biggest tree-park in Metro Manila” as she fondly describes. These environs sort-of guaranteed consistent exposure to the company of trees, plants, whatever foliage and flora exist. “This has helped me be more sensitive and appreciative of plants, fruits, and trees blowing in the breeze,” the artist muses.

In a way, the exhibition seems to continue a trajectory defined in her 2020 exhibition Winding, where the covid pandemic directed people to some sort of reflection on their actions and being thus far. One work, particularly Saksi, illustrates this, based on Garibay’s own experiences “catching myself, witnessing myself, seeing my body, my thoughts, my habits, hearing my voice as if encountering them for the first time.” A key word that has come up recently is “life force” – running through the artist’s mind and as if for the first time, a vision: “I see my body, my humanness as containing, emitting, transforming this life force, and I am just beginning to grasp the vastness of its implications.” In her notes for Winding she had written “...it also gave time to reflect on or break reflected images of oneself…” 

Unknowing Spark does have that transcendent quality – another layer in the thoughts that Garibay mulls over. She recognizes this rightly: “The resulting final form of the paintings for these series owe their organic quality to my process.” She responds to earlier prompts; with each mark, every color, having a direct line to the previous and the future. If in Winding, the notions were anchored on Einsteinian thought, Garibay uses that scientific foundation and builds upon it with intuitive thought – something she has been cultivating recently, alongside a receptive process. “I try to alchemize an agreeable balance between serendipity, flow, courage, and willfulness.” Elaborating on her painting process, she also mentions how her inner melancholia shows through her preference for the color blue that she finds poetic, which she furthers through the use of a cooler palette. As loose strokes and markings like shorthand notes frame likenesses of women looking, staring, waiting; the artist waxes philosphically: “to know is not to own, and the discerning are careful not to be owned by what they know.” 

At its core, Alee Garibay ponders this state of being — a humanity lost and forgotten — with her pieces. She highlights a humility and acknowledgement of the immeasurable expanse that is the truth, the self, and life — and how it is a process that we can only unravel bit by bit — as we grapple with our own naivety and unrealized potential. This is the Unknowing Spark within us all. 


For 2024, Cartellino will explore exhibitions and artworks through form, content, process and mood: FCPM. It might seem too simple for some, but our goal is to make it art relatable and easier to understand. Let us know what you think!