On Rituals and Production
Time is the essence of all things, both living or not. It seems to be the only thing that is in continuous motion, non-stop: time waits for no one. Yet it is because time, or with time, that everything we perceive has come into existence. Be it a creationist – it took seven days, or an empiricist – exploding gas in space from billions of years ago, the world as we knew it needed time to be what it is now.
It has been several years since the artist shifted to a focus on materials from workaday art production, a pursuit anchored on having direct, personal connection to her process, and art. In those years, she pored over countless research and information to be able to produce her own paint, pigments extracted from rocks, stones, the very ground all from within the Philippines. In no way is this a new process – as from the earliest recorded art, humans gathered and processed their own pigments in various ways. The results are astounding. At least twenty different pigments have been developed, all of which required time and keen accuracy, from procuring to processing, experimentation to finalization. Various characteristics were evaluated: brilliance, tinting strength, granulation, and more. As an ode to the very earth that yielded her materials, she produced works that echo jagged peaks of mountains, terrain that no man can completely subdue. Again, applying paint to paper is a far cry from the methods used by the artist in her process. Intuition begetting layers upon layers of paper reveal and obscure secrets of the land, repetitive but important in creating systematic actions. As if a summoning, the paint used acts as an oracle – calling forth the images of the mighty landforms, allowing a visualization both shrouded by beauty and mystery.
Art is not simply the end product for the artist, it is labor given fruit over time. The process contains the artistry, the art is the process. There are decisions to be made, actions to take, a ritual to undergo. Like the present that we see, the work of art is the current state of the actions of time, conveyed through the artist as a worthy wielder. There should be changes over time, as the works will continue to interact with the environment over the years – time knows no master. As a centerpiece to the show, the artist presents a series of twenty hourglasses, filled with each of the pigments that she has developed. Unlike a steady flow of sand, the pigments race through the glass like molten earth and rocks spewed out of a volcano, as if a message: I am and will always be one with the earth. As time goes by, we too, shall all be one with the earth once more. On its face, the artworks are humble in form, with a restrained eloquence. The same can be said with most everything in daily life – a plant, a bird, a car, a tree, a building – these all involve highly complex processes to obtain a form that little children are able to draw with a striking likeness. Simple as it seems to some, art is much more complicated. A paradox it seems – one that we must all cope with.
Time is the catalyst that allows art to come out of the labor that must be mustered to accomplish the task. In the time spent away from routine art production, she inadvertently allowed herself to become the conduit between the earth and art – a worker for a master that has watched since the dawn of mankind, guardian of a ritual that provided materials for us to inscribe time in our art, and will continue to watch as we ourselves change over time.
For Kat Grow at Galerie Stephanie, 2019