A wonderful characteristic of artists is their ability to conjure up entirely new worlds. The limitless potential of the human imagination can bring forth amazing images—and a blank canvas can be looked upon as a doorway to strange and delightful new lands. In the case of Carlo Ongchangco, it is a world of wistful colors, heavily inspired by a multitude of pop tropes, from Japanese comics to childrens literature, to real-life heroes. And while opening his world to viewers, Ongchangco manages to craft a rich narrative tapestry that underlies his own confident technique in bringing a new sense of wonder to the art community.
It is these worlds that Carlo Ongchangco opens up in his exciting new exhibition An Extraordinary Journey, which opens with an evening of music and cocktails at Galerie Stephanie on 6 o’ clock in the evening, Tuesday, November 20, 2012. Demonstrating his visual storytelling ability and pairing it with an extraordinary technique, Ongchangco’s new works strike a very contemporary chord.
The complexity of Ongchangco’s figuration is detailed in his depiction of a subject’s eyes. Large and soulful, they are often mismatched so as to resonate with an air of whimsical mystery. In his work Musical Serenades a diminutive geisha with this particular characteristic sits on a tree playing a flute. Surrounding her are fish swimming in air—another feature that so characterizes an Ongchangco work is this adherence to surreal environments. Thus, we have fish in the air and houses in the sea.
The surreal aspect of his art is the perhaps the defining quality of his practice. The usage of surrealism in visual arts point to an attempt at narrative—precisely how Ongchangco himself seems to want to portray the direction of this exhibition. By ostensibly describing it as a ‘journey,’ he seeks to act out the trajectory of a plot line. We also see this narrative vein in Dreaming of Stradivarius Symphony. In this piece, we have an explosion of different kinds of motifs –animals such as pandas and bunnies, violinists, what seems to be an altar-shaped building – behind a contemplative lady smiling as she clutches a violin. Her dress is decidedly Slavic, suggesting perhaps an alignment with figures in Russian folklore.
Ongchangco’s technique is a holdover from his college days. Having graduated with a degree in Interior Design from the University of Santo Tomas, he has dabbled in a variety of media in his career as a visual artist. He is currently the Creative Director of Red Fish, an art apparel label he established early this year that creates its own graphic shirts. From 2007 to 2010, Ongchangco was also co-owner and Creative Director of White Box Studio Gallery. It seems that this visual artist, already making waves among collectors, is here to stay.