Garage Ecstasy, Mutant Principles
Mutation follows its own arcane logic that we aren’t privy to. What we know is that it occurs in response to external stimuli, whether natural or radioactive. The results are unpredictable, and often only detected after the fact. As a natural force, it knows no laws, therefore there is nothing to defy.
This volatile temperament of mutation has been a recurring theme in Louie Cordero’s body of work, emerging in different forms: physiological deformities, moral contradictions, tragicomic narratives, and the triumphant glory arising out of the mundane. Garage Ecstasy, Mutant Principles embarks on a departure away from these narratives, into what is simultaneously industrial and fantastic.
After all, the tangibly mechanical isn’t immune from mutation. Metro Manila’s urban infrastructure and geography itself has spawned countless variations of vehicles. In Cordero’s town of Malabon alone, the automotive fauna are designed to resist rust and plow through murky water. The jeeps and village gates are stainless steel to resist rust, and the tricycles are elevated on sizable wheels. Because the coastal geography of the area makes the town prone to frequent flooding, folk engineering has adapted in kind to survive.
This series of Cordero’s works undergo their own trial by fire: sliced afresh from fiberglass, bathed in toxic paint, and scorched under one thousand two hundred watts of light. The lines converge and diverge, like coursing veins or electric wires. Behind each of these nine objects are the meticulous placement of color and forms, and stenciling executed with the precision of the surgeon. There’s a chronological order in which each shade is layered, accumulating like changes in genetic sequences. The result is homogenous, bearing a gleaming synthetic sheen. If you look closely enough, you might be able to see your own reflection.
Through the cracks in the molten concrete, signs of life persist and survive. Behind every streamlined procedure of a factory is a long process of trial and error backed by mudguard wisdom, kitsch sophistication, and junk yard engineering. Cordero has a distant fascination with the vernacular of public transport, built on a certain spirit of wit, kitsch, and earnestness executed by countless craftsmen and artisans. These images speed by, leaving spectral imprints like the kaleidoscopic visions that emerge behind closed eyes after staring at the sun.
True evolution originates outside of controlled environments, where different factors collide and coalesce in a neon primordial soup—not on a cold, sterile surface of a laboratory, but a garage with walls of hollow blocks. Mutation may run rogue, but it may as well be another word for adaptation.
Lush, complex, and expressionistic, this suite of large-scale works by Raffy T. Napay, one of this year’s recipients of Thirteen CCP Artists Awards. Invites us to glory and get lost in the charged almosphere of his visionary forest, in which mature is revealed as the untamed expansive force that it is, whose sense of order is generated from chaos and spontaneity. Such an exuberance of detail necessitates a multiplicity of media from oil slick, to acrylic to spray paint to appliques. and, of course, to Napay’s beloved threads-multi-variant, multi-colored, and manipulated into a variety of processes that include sewing, tufting, and braiding. The immediacy of Napay’s created world discloses the difficult, almost Herculean labor, The expenditure of energy becomes leaves, trellises, terns, flowers, and a wild variety of otherworldly Hora.
The power of Napay’s work is its ability to disengage our anchor, unmoor us, and usher us, with eyes wide open to the theater of his stupendous technique. There is no mistaking the work of the hand, but the narrative dream in which we are delivered as we get absorbed into his works is never compromised. We are made heirs to the teeming. bristling world dense with growth. blossoming, and phenomena, foregrounded by the Interlacing across the panels, which also presupposes their vital symbiotic relationships. Time and time again, we are enjoined to participate to an exhilarating profound kind of freedom (“ligaw.” in Mindoro from where his family hails, means Tree”) through the act of decentering. But as important, we are bestowed a lavish joy that Napay unconditionally affords us through the marvel of his unforgettable creation.