An established comic book artist and author, known for his Kikomachine Komix series, Manix Abrera is a mainstay in the cartoon and comics scene in the country. He started plotting his irreverent comics and kooky drawings in the Philippine Collegian as an undergrad at the University of the Philippines. Eventually, his work got picked up by the Philippine Daily Inquirer and over time, this gig developed into his long-standing solo project Kikomachine.

Flippant humor and a playful regard for language characterize most of Abrera’s work. Everyday characters are caught in mundane yet amusing situations, grounded by an understanding of the political and social realities of today—daily contradictions which make life both strenuous and full of irony.

In Dreams, Abrera’s latest solo show at Galerie Stephanie, a lingering strangeness glistens inside these scenes, and the magical act of retreat informs these settings, which are inspired by the actual dreams of Abrera. The show, which features some prior work from his comic book series, is full of topsy-turvy imagery and spirited characters. The artist crafts a world moving with a dream-like eccentricity, bristling with moments of unpredictable change and transience: Ghosts hang around an astral graveyard. A door leads to a mountaintop. A lonesome character watches a blood moon and a devilish pair of wings in “Sagittal Terror.” A cosmic residence emerges in “Writers Camp in Space.”

Here, just as in Abrera’s own practice, the fantastic is met with a care for the human condition. Kapres, a spider-prof, an engkanto museum all feel at home through Abrera’s wondrous eye for detail. Equal parts touching and trembling, Dreams is doused in an electric and freakish vigor, rendered with a colorful touch of humor and absurdity.

Text by Sean Carballo