SILVERLENS welcomes the new year with the show A Paradise Lost, Ryan Villamael’s 7th solo exhibition in the gallery, on show until 9 February 2019. For this presentation, Villamael premieres a new body of work that builds upon his ongoing dialogue with the contentious subject of Philippine History.
Villamael’s fascination with history began when he came across some early maps where the idea of ‘The Philippines’ first started to appear, which at that period could be seen as just a random scattering of nearby islands, with various tribes (warring and friendly) that were forced into a single, unified entity by an external power. This set forth more than three centuries of foreign rule that effectively dissolved all but a few links to our pre-colonial origins. For Villamael, this fraught relationship with history is a powerful driving force that sets fire to his nagging desire to read and know more, to dig deeper and sort through the entanglements of hearsay and facts, and from there begin to piece together a picture that may shed light to how we, as people, ended up where we are today.
With A Paradise Lost, Villamael returns to the intimacy of paper; hand cut, made intuitively and in isolation. Presented as a set of unfurled scrolls, which in total spans close to 20 meters stretched across the length of the gallery’s inner walls, the work evokes a faint horizon seen from a distance, a distance that it is keen to preserve. As even up close, it remains elusive; blank, still, and nearly empty. While ancient scrolls served as one of humanity’s earliest forms of editable record keeping, Villamael’s sheets remain thoroughly white yet not unmarked: it contains a thoughtful and evocative lament not written in ink but is encoded by blade. From his earliest works on, Villamael has employed the process of paper cutting to create images, confer stories and ask questions through the calculated use of negative space. Here he sliced and nibbled away slowly through the paper, creating a network of lines that mirrors how certain pests burrow and eat their way through old books, leaving a distinct pattern of holes, pathways and tunnels across the pages. And while images of hole-riddled pages and destroyed books carry with them the melancholy air of information forever lost, here they translate to the actual content that informs and cuts through the blankness of the page.
Still in another light, the patterns could just as well be seen as overgrown sprouts of wild vegetation, hopeful and alive as they creep their way up through the rubble of an unseen, perhaps fractured world below the horizon.
About the Artist
Ryan Villamael (b. 1987, Laguna; lives and works in Quezon City) is one of the few artists of his generation to have abstained from the more liberal modes of art expression to ultimately resort to the more deliberate handiwork found in cut paper. While his method follows the decorative nature innate to his medium of choice, from the intricately latticed constructions emerge images that defy ornamental patchwork found in the tradition of paper cutting, and instead becomes a treatise of a unique vision that encompasses both the inner and outer conditions that occupy the psyche – which range from the oblique complexity of imagined organisms to the outright effects of living in a convoluted city.
Villamael was included in several group shows while still pursuing a bachelor’s degree in painting from the University of the Philippines up to the time of his graduation in 2009. His works have been shown in Manila, Singapore, Hong Kong, the UK, Australia, and Paris. Although his persistence in sustaining a discipline more often subjected to handicraft has been evident from his works, Villamael maintains that his primary interest lies rather on the conceptual significance of craft in the process of creating contemporary art, and continues to recognize the possibility of how his works can still evolve under this light. He is a recipient of the Ateneo Art Award in 2015 and the three international residency grants funded by the Ateneo Art Gallery and its partner institutions: La Trobe University Visual Arts Center in Bendigo, Australia; Artesan Gallery in Singapore and Liverpool Hope University in Liverpool, UK. He has participated in the 2018 Biwako Biennale in Japan, and 2016 Singapore Biennale.
Through its artist representation, institutional collaborations, art consultancy and exhibition programming, including art fairs and gallery partnerships, SILVERLENS aims to place its artists within the broader framework of the contemporary art dialogue. Its continuing efforts to transcend borders across art communities in Asia have earned it recognition from both artists and collectors as one of the leading contemporary art galleries in Southeast Asia. SILVERLENS was founded by Isa Lorenzo and Rachel Rillo in 2004.
For more information on A Paradise Lost, click here.
Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.
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