No matter how good we are at expressing ourselves, the world will always look at us in partial. It makes us question of how big a part of our reality is close to the whole. But sometimes, it takes only a part of us to reveal our entirety. This is the idea that The Sum of Its Parts is trying to present. Visual artists Maverick Abac, Xjin, Jone Reaño Sibugan, Jemima Yabes and Blaise Zamora summarize their truths into anatomical representations.
Pertinent to note in the exhibition title is what is absent from the otherwise popular idiom: the mathematical expression of inequality, “greater than,” and the referent “whole.” Instead, in their rhythmic postures, colors, rolling billows of impressions, and figures, the choice works gathered here constitute a visual aggregate of lived attitudes. Through different narrative frames – what is included, what is left out – each artist confers an enlivened attention to the changing fabric of common experience.
Jone Sibugan’s most recent oil on canvas works continue to simulate the unremitting shuttling between the self and the environment in fluid gestures. Clear demarcations between the self and environment are unrecognizable in Identity Manifestation 5. The Pixel Identity series pounces on this theme further, exploring one’s virtual sense of self through the parity digital reality provides: documented and parsed in the smallest addressable element of a raster image.
Notions of selfhood, too, are pronounced in the three paintings of Maverick Abac, of which the eyes are the only subject matter. The artist has consistently painted masked figures living amid the pandemic; the Peripheral paintings hardly need further context. Only the eyes can remain visible, and so they are. Of the three works, only one does not avert its gaze from the viewer, as if to acknowledge in passing a shared state. The two oil paintings of Xjin embody a similar sentiment through the possession of multicolored balloons. They are then unceremoniously let loose and given to flight, observed from the bleak interior, past the metal bars of a window.
The brutal anecdote of pig life in the abattoir haunts Jemima Yabes’s series of paintings. With three of the four works fittingly titled All Things Can Be Cropped, the works produce an unnerving tension between what is so pleasantly represented and the nose-to-tail butchery of which there is no trace. In the face of such disappearance, specific to this account is the normalized premise for the raw reality of the slaughter the paintings intimate here, which, when the cause appears so self-evident, proves difficult to justify.
Last but not least are the two works of Blaise Zamora, distinct in their pairing for their contrasting scales. Rendered in meticulous detail in The Hand makes it as distinct as a thumbmark: the flexion lines, the wrinkles, the creases as a consummate account of a life, under clinical scrutiny before a harsh white light. The Spectrum of All Human Tragedy, perceived as though under a kaleidoscope, makes tangible an unrelenting system of rapacious need. Regardless of how one rotates the lens, the mass of hands would continue to clamber over one another.
The Sum of Its Parts further encapsulates the infinite partiality of an entity, suggesting that one’s wholeness is still a part of an even bigger whole. This exponential journey sets a reminder that even minute voices, when taken collectively, make the grandest statements.