August 22 - September 17, 2020
WHAT YOU SEEK REVEALS WHAT YOU VALUE
The search for “something” is perhaps the most universal attribute in the human experience. That something may come in multiple forms, at different stages of one’s life: a sense of inclusion in the world, the warmth of family and friends, an abiding passion, such as mastery in art. Whatever it may be, one is compelled to transcend the limitation of the environment, smash through one’s comfort zone, or possibly cultivate a new version of self. This is the “hero’s journey” as articulated by Joseph Campbell in looking at mythological archetypes that exist regardless of time, culture, or locality.
This intractable yearning to explore and discover, to venture into the unknown is what fuels Half Blind, the solo exhibition of Gian Miroe for Art Verité. Using a dark and foreboding color palette, the artist depicts individuals at various levels of self-discovery. What is conveyed by this suite of paintings is the fact that the search is not immune from pain and suffering and, in fact, may be the pre-condition to it. Dismemberment, self-harm, violence to the body: these are the features that stitch these works together. For the artist, it is rite of passage to challenge and interrogate the limits of the self and the environment in order to prompt a radical form of transformation.
Emblematic of the main idea of the exhibition is the painting, “Don’t Lose Your Light.” In the work, a woman with an ashen face expressing grim determination is about to leave behind a crowd of darkened silhouettes. These are the people who have lost their light, which is shown to be leaking, rising, and evaporating from their eye sockets. The comfort of the crowd is irresistible; in fact, the main figure is being held back by another woman who seems to be resigned with this kind of slow death. What awaits the main figure is the unknown, the unexpected, which has a stronger and more compelling call than the certainty of the masses.
Venturing into the self may be as important—if not more—than venturing into the world, and this idea is conveyed by the works “Everything Hidden is Suddenly Exposed,” “Is That the Safest Place to Hide?” and “Whole.” The figures in these works are shown either being split in half, depicted in cubes of jigsaw puzzle, or cutting the face. Metaphorically, these acts of violence are meant to symbolize the difficult act of self-analysis which, when achieved, may give rise to the healing of past traumas. Sometimes, what results in this investigation is art, as shown by the figure in the painting, “Everything Hidden is Suddenly Exposed” who bleeds a gush of paint instead of blood.
An interesting work, “Collector’s Item,” departs from the other paintings. Instead of seeing actual figures, what the viewer confronts is an ornate golden frame which borders a square of black. Rather than representing emptiness, the black square acts like an opaque mirror on which one can see the reflection of one’s innermost fears and desires. What we see in a painting is, most of the time, simply the hidden self manifesting itself.
Rather than speaking of the answers to the questions we ask, Half Blind suggests that we can never be certain of the search, that we seek the path—whatever it may be—with part of our faculties clouded. What is important for Miroe is for us to trust the process and soldier on because whatever awaits us in the other side is more revelatory than compared with sitting still and staying put.
– Carlomar Arcangel Daoana