Chati Coronel, Bernardo Pacquing, & Jose Santos III
Silverlens presents three important mid-career artists for the first show post-Art Fair Philippines: Bernardo Pacquing, Jose Santos III, and Chati Coronel. The choice of the timing this show after the art tsunami that is AFP is deliberate, a doorbell to audiences that exhibitions happen at the galleries all year round. A reminder that the magic of art happens at these long-form exhibitions when artists, like icebergs, simultaneously dazzle on the surface and reach deep into the abyss.
The show perhaps should be called ‘Infinite, Zero, Infinite’ pertaining to the middle number that zero stands for. On either side of it, are an infinity at the positive or at the negative. Mathematically, these are unconnected—zero is a number; infinity is a concept you can never reach.
For this show, Jose Santos III chose Bernardo Pacquing, Bernardo Pacquing chose Chati Coronel. Santos and Pacquing were first, and last, together shown at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Thirteen Artist Award in 2000, the millennium bug year. Coronel’s pieces float in and out of Pacquing’s consciousness, like spirit pieces reflected on months after their encounter. A conversation over studio visits among the artists revealed common interests in the beginnings of their processes, in the endless inquiries presented by specifics. Inquiries that can go either side into positive or negative: x-axis or y-axis. Or Z axis even!
Zero is the measure of nothing, of having no quality; infinity, we use to describe the process of doing something forever. Zero is a definite presence; infinity is an approach. Diagrammatically, their symbols are the same, an unbroken but connected line, but twists of each other.
The twist is what we are interested in. When does something become art? When do materials rise above their humble parts to become more than their sum? When Pacquing ratchets together hard and soft objects to form impossible but consummate unions; when Coronel paints layers on layers of color and text to reveal a final figure that was there from the beginning; and when Santos builds assemblages into cascading packets of the national psyche.
Philosophically, they present a way of working— a perpetual beginning, an indivisible source, the perfect unknown.
- Isa Lorenzo
SILVERLENS is pleased to announce Continuing Growth, Tessy Pettyjohn’s first solo exhibition in the gallery. A renowned pioneer of Philippine pottery, Pettyjohn’s ceramic works are often inspired by the flowers and plants in her garden.
Tessy’s exploration into nonfunctional clay forms began some years ago. Her first exhibitions were about architecturally inspired structures and were mostly simple geometric forms, which is no surprise given that she originally wanted to study architecture before she was convinced to take up painting at UP Fine Arts. Her interest in painting eventually evolved into a new direction: ceramics. For the past 40 years, she and her husband Jon have been pioneering the path for a whole generation of studio potters.
Beginning with her exhibit Cornucopia in 2001 she moved in a new direction. During a snorkeling experience in Palawan she was struck by the diversity and complexity of life underwater -- not just sheer beauty and color but also by the repetitive patterns and structure growing out of the corals, rocks, and sea floor. In the following years she studied and absorbed natural form from other sources such as cacti, succulents, flowers, and grasses. This produced 3 consecutive solo exhibitions: Cornucopia, My Garden, and Aianthous. In all of these exhibitions growth and pattern were her main concern.
Pettyjohn’s choice materials are stoneware and porcelain. These clays, often favored by modern potters, require high temperature firing and produce an amazing range of colors and textures, not unlike those found in nature. They can convey both the biological (such as cacti and coral), and geological (stones and landscape), as stoneware is coarse and earthy, and porcelain fine and colorful. They are opposites in a way.
The common thread in all these exhibits, apart from pattern and color, was the way the structures appeared or blossomed out of another simpler form like a stem or a vase or sometimes the cover of a jar. She was still interested in the vestiges of function; however, it was the contrast that seemed to appeal. Complex form and color appearing from plain lifeless surfaces and finding a sort of niche; porcelain appearing out of stoneware.
For Continuing Growth, she has stepped a little further beyond the progression and has moved away from the vases; the growths appear out of simpler forms that could be biological, geological, or even man-made, as though the vegetation begins to appear in the detritus of an abandoned world. “Life will find a way” as the mathematician Ian Malcolm said in Jurassic Park. The patterns are now moving up the wall. Although the artist says this might be the last show in the series it will be interesting to see if she moves even further away down the road to abstraction in coming shows.
- Jon Pettyjohn