With mesmerizing works that have drawn crowds at local art fairs and solo exhibitions alike, six prolific contemporary Filipino artists—Jason Montinola, Ana Victoria Montinola, Ronald Caringal, Valerie Chua, Wesley Valenzuela, and Kadin Tiu—make their Thailand debut in La Lanta Fine Art, Bangkok. Aptly titled Displacement, the group exhibit displays the artists’ studio works made during Manila’s hundred-plus-day lockdown.
The mind races when isolated in a time of mass uncertainty and unease; it follows threads that tangle and twine in sometimes awful and, other times, serendipitous ways. One’s identity comes into question; a relationship with the world is put under strain. Offered in Displacement are glimpses of the Filipino artists’ preoccupations, art practices, and sensibilities toward this challenge.
Compressed bodies and symbols knot and converge in Wesley Valenzuela’s artworks as they tackle the sense of unease prevalent during the pandemic, of which incumbent powers play no small part in spreading. In the tongue-in-cheek Pop Art-inspired work of Ronald Caringal, the reflection centers on the difficulty of being an artist. Ana Victoria Montinola’s stunning abstract expressionism plays on ideas of spontaneity and chance.
The series by Valerie Chua takes inspiration from Heidegger. The works “are an attempt to claim freedom within our own constraints.” Similarly, for Jason Montinola, the artist views the act of painting not just for creative expression, but also to attain a higher spiritual state: “by way of opening up consciousness, sharing hidden realities, and revealing surprising connections,” according to his artist statement.