, October 25, 2021

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The Shadow that Looms Until the End of Light


  •   7 min reads
The Shadow that Looms Until the End of Light

Jose Terence Ruiz

Purgatoryo de Masaj

Oil on Canvas
54 x 66 Inches
2021

By Jose Tence Ruiz

It would seem salutary to suggest that we are woke, professing cognizance of an entire half millenium of having been molded and shaped by fellow humans coming in from outside our indigenous spaces. The Big Topic of the year 2021, aside of course from a persistently fatal virus that also drifted in from without, is a remembrance of 1521, when this archipelago which we inhabited since pre-history was to be changed by visitors from halfway across the globe. By 1521, these islands were not unused to foreigners : The Arabs, Austro-polynesians, Siamese, Chinese, Indians, they all came and found settlement and social exchange; It’s just that this wave of visitors from the Empires of the Baroque Era had designs to own us as a territory; Us, as a subjected peoples in extension and sustenance of their own progress, of their own growth, fed on resources taken from us.

Is this not the way to launch a meditation on 1521?

A cursory chat with three filipino artist contemporaries yielded a quaint, even giggly observation: All three of us, who are not of Iberian physiognomy, all bear hispanicized surnames ; Mr  Jose ‘Pinggot’ Zulueta is rather quite bumi/austropolynesian, Mr Jose’Bogie’ Tence Ruiz is more Ottoman/Chinese and Mr Federico ‘Pete’ Jimenez will definitely pass for Sino-Japanese. Yet we all move forward into 2022 with this cross pollinated bricolage of a self : That which sociologist historian Vincente Rafael describes as a product of the overlapping trajectories of three empires : Spain, America and Japan. And we belong to the converse of Empire, and, perforce, count ourselves as bred from Colony.

And the mention of Colony corollarily conjures up discourses of subjugation, resistance, violent domination, exploitation, release, self-realization, parity, human justice, compassion and cruelty, mimicry, bondage, heroism and betrayal and an elongated list of subjects that extrude themselves whenever one segment of humanity overpowers the other. So we therefore come into this exhibit with this Galleon-load of baggage and dwell on the expressions that are thrown up in a review of the painful but also rivetting narrative of a self-proclaimed community, imagined as Benedict Anderson would call it, that has labored under the heel of them that have sought to reduce it to being merely a source of nutrition and sustenance, while draining this very sustenance from those who by fate were born or sited on these dominated territories.

Pinggot Zulueta

Silang Mga Gabriela

Ink on Paper
16.5 x 23.4 inches
2021

Pinggot Zulueta

Mi Querida Filipinas

Ink on Paper
16.5 x 23.4 inches
2021

Pinggot Zulueta

Maria Clara Guerrera

Ink on Paper
16.5 x 23.4 inches
2021

Pinggot Zulueta

La Conquista de España / Huseng Tirador / Manlulupig

Ink on Paper
16.5 x 23.4 inches
2021

Pinggot Zulueta

Felipinas

Ink on Paper
33 x 48 inches
2021

Thus does this show, which mainly deals with redolence, traces, effects, using the spanish line In the shadow of Colony, “A la sombra de la Colonia” unfold with works that can as well be mutating variants of redolence : Pinggot Zulueta has marked out some very intense black and white ink drawings that propose a visceral lens, with equally raw tropes that work to start newer conversations about the last 500 years, conversations from below, to lay down a perspective, from those whose lives were ravaged and brutally gobbled up to feed larger regimes. He posits that for a decolonization to be effected, courage, heroism, even martyrdom has to be relocated at the fore. He is aware that relations of subjugation are eroded by releasing suppressed histories, histories long referred to by national historian Renato Constantino as histories from beneath, from the subjugated breaking the silence of rule by force driven conquest. Zulueta presents the bovine carcass in a good number of his drawings, as if to suggest the domestication of the conquered, like humans domesticate cows for the table, and at the same time suggest individuals who have risen above this domestication to assert a decolonization, a realisation dreamt of, harking to the better f-word, freedom.

Jose Tence Ruiz

Monumentong Na‘Goyo

Oil on Canvas
Vertical Diptych
91.25 x 50.25 inches
2021

Jose Tence Ruiz

Mabinibini sa Madilim na Gabi

Oil on Canvas
48 x 54 inches
2021

Jose Tence Ruiz

Paraisado Florida at ang Limas na Gubat sa Bewang ng Mundo

Mixed Media Wood, Silk, Cotton, Enamel, Acrylic Polyester resin, Plastic, Oil, Rubber, Metal
97 x 50 x 74 inches
2009 to 2021
In Collaboration with Danilo Ilag-Ilag, Jimmy De Guzman and Raul Ugbamen

Euro-Olive oil imbued but homegrown Spanish snobberry; the robot-like remnants of ruthless Japanese severity, both as rulers and as defeated targets of the Americans; the superficial pacification of a whole people under a transplanted Educational system, even the prospect of a future loss of sea resources to the newly aggressive and determinedly growing Beijing-run Empire of Command Capitalism. He touches on grave topics with droll humor and irony, and spans the near erased past as well as the fearful future, a fraught span of time where the inhabitants of our Archipelago are unyeildingly besieged by those who would covet our naturally endowed treasures, above and into the soil, beneath the seas amidst the coral heavens, and now, burrowing deep, into our demarcated continental shelf. Jimenez’ wit with discards also mirrors the self serving upitty attitudes that the elite of these islands have grown, like a keloid, to assuage and justify their consistent betrayal of the majority in favor of being surrogates/collaborators for and with the invaders, offering their feasance for uninterrupted economic and social ascendancy. Or to explain why someone once wanted to rechristen us Islas de las Ladrones.

Pete Jimenez

Luzviminda

Assemblage
Steel Mill Balls and Drill Bit
21 x 6 x 6 inches
2021

Pete Jimenez

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

Assemblage
Wood and steel Farming Ornaments
48 x 19 x 16 inches
2020

Pete Jimenez

Spanish Sardines

Assemblage
Aluminum Shoe Lasts and Vintage Tool Box
13 x 27 x 9 inches
2021

Pete Jimenez

Apple Center

Assemblage
Vintage Bomb Shell and Kalesa iron Wheel
59 x 47 x 3 inches
2020

Pete Jimenez

Magtanim ay ‘Di Biro

Assemblage
Old School Bench and Steel Balls and Rods
58 x 46 x 24 inches
2020

The entire schema of dominance, of the large consuming the small, is generally undesirable in a proportional humanized proposition of ideal existence, but it does exist and looms, grand and imposing. Colonization is not new to homo sapiens, who from the individual to the tribal to the national to the global has always had to deal with one segment eating up another, or feeding from it in an unequal relationship. In our Utopian aspirations, we yearn for a state of being free from capture, but those of us singed by the crucible of realpolitik have come to recognize that eternity is a concept that none of us will ever live to reach, that immortality is a conceit, and that the Utopian project of being in unfettered liberty is constantly prey to siege from those who entertain the illussion that their power is equal to and a signal of their magnanimity. Tyrants, or colonizers for that matter see themselves as gods bequeathing to the Promethean among the masses, and this cycle of dominance and repression will accompany Humanity for millenia to come, at whichever planet we as a race might touch down on.

This exhibit exists within this contentious universe of emancipation and captivity, and our three quaintly surnamed exhibitors struggle to render, to give imagery to these tides of conflict between individuals, states, continents, later even planets in a way germane and thus emotionally resonant and authentic to their memories and modes of comprehension. Colonia will always hover over humans, maybe as an irreversible complement of their ability to grow. Power is said to be beneficial until it outpaces its needs, and the freedoms of people, to ever be realized, will always have to contend with the sysiphean processes of recognition and resistance. The brighter the light, the deeper its shadow.


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