Four Filipino artists — Olan Ventura, EJ Cabangon, Ruel Caasi and Igan D'Bayan — present their take on their home city as an alternate universe where everything is strange yet familiar, hyperrealist yet abstracted, beautiful and bizarre at the same time. A melting pot of the past, the present and the possible. An outsider's view of what's inside: a cornucopia of daily news, urban legends, blind faith, celebrity worship, magic realism, online philosophizing, as well as crises of identity brought about by centuries of colonial rule, decades of dictatorship, and contemporary confusion.
The show titled "Vortex Manila" is also an exploration of the status of Filipino and Asian contemporary art in relation to the paradigm-setters of Western thought, taste and aesthetics.
Cabangon takes on cartoonish images and morphs them into "abducted" pieces of liquefying constructs that can be viewed as metaphors for loss of innocence or a world turning into a playground of misfit melting toys.The strategy of "abducting" can be seen as something politically charged (the perils of living in a third world country) or something entirely existential and universal.
D'Bayan is obsessed with Old, Weird Filipinas: how historical events, pop culture, Internet hoaxes, current events and Pinoy horror movies converge on a Twilight Zone-like, Black Mirror-ish tropical gothic area. In Iluminacion, personal mythology blends with monsters from old Filipino folklore, Illuminati symbols, prog rock album covers, Picasso's harlequin, basketball mascots, and the specter of terrorism haunting Europe.These images form a quiet apocalypse — sans biblical fire and brimstone yet far more sinister. The Flipinas portraits are deconstructions of old works by Filipino masters into a sari-sari (convenience) store of doom.
Olan reconfigures the traditional still life painting (a staple in Philippine art) by recasting image as "image-of-an-image" — things are in flux, in motion; printing errors alter the captured images; and colors and shadows run amuck in his frenzied vision.Thus, "still life" becomes the contradiction-in-terms as it truly is: unstable, cropped, unsteady and unpredictable.
Caasi investigates the non-physical in his Untitled abstracts — meditating on form within form, strange shapes interacting with even stranger shapes, and space that intrudes upon other spaces.The artist has always been drawn to how forms and forces affect each other: a dance of geometry, gestures and textures.