Lifting the title from Rabindranath Tagore’s Poem No. 87, “Standing Under the Golden Canopy of the Tender Sky” features Italian artist Nunzio Paci and Filipino artist Renz Baluyot. Bringing to the fore a collection of works that merge arranged settings and scenes one can only project as allusions to “heaven and earth”, the exhibition highlights the artists’ exceptional ability to reimagine reality through painting. Thus, representing narratives and tales that echo Tagore’s verses, embodying one’s longing for fulfillment.

In his works, Paci observes the mutations of nature, particularly in plants and animals, as he explores the unbounded tendencies of life. Intersecting the macabre and the ethereal, the paintings are filled with charged images of decaying animals surrounded by blooming flowers. These representations offer a perspective on reconciling the circle of life as the display of decay signals a new beginning. Such is evident among his compositions, where scenes of animals and flowers dominate. Paci meticulously portrays these scenarios with certain regality and regency. Somehow, we find ourselves remembering that our time on earth is limited and that every life goes through a cycle, and we must see to it that we find perpetual gratification in all that we make.

Meanwhile, the dominance of clouds in Baluyot’s works imparts a conjectural response to the concept of becoming fulfilled. Moreover, our relationship to the idea is defined by how we view things from a particular perspective; life could appear heavy and, at times, weightless. Visible objects that float mid-air are found in some of Baluyot’s works for the exhibition. They, too, represent the density of our immutable search for meaning and wholeness. His paintings emphasize the hints of the horizon or the depth of space. These cues shepherd the viewers to look at the paintings beyond what can only be recognized by the naked eye. Hence, Baluyot guides us to think about the intangibility of some of the most important aspects of our lives and future selves.

Paci and Baluyot are two artists whose practices are both anchored on the subject of decay and its manifestations through different re-imaginings and depictions. Their works imply that somewhere around us, there is a life form that begins to deteriorate while another emerges. We become witnesses to one or the other, sometimes both, but what is essential is to recognize the evolution of our existence in either concrete or abstract forms and the feeling of excitement about what the future holds. In the poem, Tagore continues, “I have come to the brink of eternity from which nothing can vanish – no hope, no happiness, no vision of a face seen through tears.” Perhaps, this is all of it and then some more.

curated by Gwen Bautista