Art, Exhibit, Main Gallery (Kawilihan), Museum, UP Vargas Museum

Dramaturgical Revelations of Everyday Life

Dramaturgical Revelations of Everyday Life

26 February – 1 June 2008 (Extended until 11 August)

Kawilihan Gallery, 2F

UP Vargas Museum, Roxas Ave., UP Diliman

Florentino Macabuhay

Siesta

1948

Watercolor on paper

58.5 x 53.8 cm.

In line with the College of Arts and Letters’ Komedya Fiesta 2008 and in celebration of the University of the Philippines’ Centenary, the UP Jorge B. Vargas Museum (UPVM) opens Dramaturgical Revelations of Everyday Life on 26 February 2008 (Tuesday), 5:30 pm. The exhibition features artworks from the UPVM Art Collection that focus on the dramatic representations of everyday life. It also addresses important issues on the links between modes of artistic representation and perception and brings to the fore a different curatorial style.

Dramaturgical Revelations showcases genre paintings done by early 20th century Filipino artists including Fernando Amorsolo, Dominador Castaneda, Ireneo Miranda, H.R. Ocampo, Florentino Macabuhay, Simeon Galvez, Lauro Alcala and Ricarte Puruganan. As everyday life is made familiar by these works, one questions whether the quotidian is defined by ennui/ malaise or nullity. The repetitiveness of work as revealed by the painted scenes of toiling farmers and fishermen, the despair expressed by beggars and the seeming boredom evoked by an afternoon nap or siesta seem to point to the unexciting tendencies of the commonplace. Yet, these works highlight the tensions evoked by everyday life by focusing on a specific moment and extending it, inviting the viewer to take part in its dramaturgical revelation. While genre paintings offer a glimpse into scenes from everyday life, they also merge the pictorial with the theatrical. H. R. Ocampo’s The Contrast for instance foregrounds a beggar in the artist’s characteristic emphasis on bold colors. The beggar’s skin is rendered luminous in yellow and highlighted by rich, bold red and orange. The fiery highlights on the skin emanating from the flame in a lamp render a dramatic composition, enhancing the character’s gauntness. A sense of theatricality is also evident in Simeon Galvez’ Banaba Tree where a woman washing clothes is eclipsed by an imposing tree and in Ricarte Puruganan’s Toilers of the Sea where fishermen in a boat are dwarfed by the majestic sea and rolling waves creating a sense of spectacle and picturesqueness.

But is perception limited by vision? Roland Barthes emphasized the plurality of media by defining theatricality as “a density of signs and sensations built up on a stage starting from the written argument.” What happens if the interplay of corporeal forms and elements such as light, value, space and color in genre paintings are welded with yet another level of sensory experience such as sound? This exhibition provides a multi-sensory experience for the audience by incorporating a series of field recordings plotting ambient aural phenomena such as people talking in a market place, birds chirping in the rural area and thunderstorm heard over rainfall. While complementing and expanding the artistic experience, the juxtaposition of visual and aural elements is non-linear and therefore neither situates nor shapes the historical context of the painted scenes.

Dramaturgical Revelations will run until 11 August 2008. For details, please contact Linda at numbers 928-1927 (direct line) / 981-8500 local 4024/23, or email us at vargasmuseum@gmail.com.

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About Jorge B. Vargas Museum

It aims to preserve its collection donated by Jorge B. Vargas and conducts research, exhibitions, publications, and educational programs. The Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center houses a museum, archives, and library devoted to the Philippine history, art, and culture from the late 19th century until the post-war era. Its main beneficiaries are students, faculty, researchers and scholars of the Philippines and Asia.

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