HomeExhibitions2020 ExhibitionsNEITHER DEATH NOR LIFE


written by Gwen Bautista


“Neither Death nor Life” is lifted from a verse in the Book of Romans that artists Martin Honasan and Dexter Sy believe succinctly describes the full breadth of our existence. It says:

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39, ESV

The works in this exhibition look into the artists’ introspection on their progress as individuals and as members of a community. Three collaborative works are presented to mark their friendship that started in 2007 when they are both at the crossroads of their lives: Honasan was a newlywed who was about to become a father while Sy began his spiritual journey in the Christian faith. In between these crucial events, the shared experiences of progress through self-discovery and surrender draw parallel to most artistic process. In understanding yourself as an artist, one must be willing to take this crucial step. Sy remarks, “This is where an artwork becomes whole or broken.” Indeed, this account is arbitrarily similar when we think about our being. What makes us whole, and what breaks us?

For more than a decade, the two artists have both experienced triumphs and tragedies: marriage, fatherhood, exhibitions, and loss, among other things. Thus, witnessing the progression of God’s work in their lives and their artistic practices. Their contemplations are also found in each of the artists’ works in this exhibition. “Neither Death nor Life” is a testament that although we walk through different paths and live separate lives, we all become evidence of our surrendering;  and that God’s intervention defines the time in between life and death.

Dexter Sy’s (b.1979) works are informed by the cultural particularities coming from a Filipino-Chinese family. His works portray the merging of the two cultures and how they are being re-defined in the contemporary era. His works contain iconographies and metaphors that elaborate the translation of morphed cultural and sometimes religious representations.

Martin Honasan (b. 1976) is an artist whose works significantly intervene with different environmental factors that influence the psychological and emotional aspects of morality, existence, and spirituality. Often combining portraiture and elements of nature (water, earth, air, and fire) as materials in his paintings, installations, and assemblages, Honasan takes these forms in exploring identities that consider physical and abstract junctures, which traverse through science and spirituality.