Perhaps, one of the most compelling portraits in history, Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World” depicted more than the reposed position of a female body against a stark rural landscape. Wyeth’s meticulous attention to detail portrayed the subject’s physical state and her state of mind introducing an approach to realism where mystery and reality intersect. Similarly, Dan Macapugay amplifies this approach with his first solo exhibition, Oblivion.
The collection is filled with paintings depicting representations of the body inside somber and dream-like settings. Here, ordinary images evoke a myriad of emotions and hold sentiments marked by the combination of soft and raw brush strokes in illustrating scenarios, where the subjects’ faces are obscured, hidden, or looking away from the viewer. Like in Wyeth’s “Christina’s World” where the artist points us to the contorted body of the subject to understand her situation, Macapugay draws the viewer in the same direction to observe the way that every part of the body contributes to the reclusion: bent knees, folded arms, curved backs, heads bowed. Perhaps, the stillness of the scenes echoes the subjects’ desire for tranquility and peace.
The series flourishes in images where women are able to idle away from the chaos of the world, resting comfortably on a tree branch, a sofa, a couch, a bed. Conceivably, these renderings offer a way for the world to listen to women and let them have their own pace and time to build and enjoy their own worlds instead of opening passages to enter a world that was made for them but not by them. Macapugay’s series reminds us that the plight of women has been ignored and dismissed on many occasions and yet, like in one of his paintings where a woman lies comfortably on a hanging tree branch, the strength and confidence to survive in this society never falters. “Oblivion” does not present vulnerability as a sign of weakness but rather as one of the most human traits, which allows us to understand the magnitude of our presence and when to retreat. These characterizations inside two-dimensional formats breathe life to Macapugay’s compositions. This way, the artist is able to involve himself in widening perspectives and notions of the way that the female body is chronicled in art and in the same manner, would ask us to evaluate our existence during these formidable times.