In the Philippines, to define here and now is to agree that there is a feeling of unrest and immense discomfort that continues to envelope the country. The current events and fabric of national memory have been characterized by violence, hate and obliviousness which have also become the norm, Ronald Jeresano finds the urgency and the incendiary need to respond to the troubled times just as other local artists already did. By putting on a social lens, he sensitizes us again to things that are already so familiar, overwhelmingly flagged and yet so evasively taken and ignored by many : the attack against the poor and the repression of truth by way of lies and manipulation.
Coming from the key term “galvanize,” Jeresano plays on both positive suggestions and references to the word. With the use of realistic and descriptive images, he tries to show how the State continue to rouse its forces with full encouragement and support to enforce its programs, especially the war on drugs.
He tries to connect through his paintings this perverse proclivity and aggressiveness to only confront the poor and vulnerable. Of course, he obliquely conveys his disapproval and attacks against the helpless with his loaded images. The juxtaposition of images directly references public offices and seats of power and wealth to those of the images associated with the poor like features of humble shanties in the slums and so suffusing his canvases with the fault lines, the legible contradiction and the pervasive confusion of these times.
Indirectly, he also takes on the uncontrollable hysteria of right wing and anti-poor rhetoric fueled by hate and violence that have taken over many of us. For Jeresano, nowhere in time has the truth been so mercurial and fragile as seen in the recent social realities. The war on drugs has truly been so uncontrollable which is becoming like an epidemic, blindly carried out, condoned and followed by those who worship violence.
Jeresano tries to connect through his paintings, the proclivity of the government and hysterical and aggressive tendencies to confront the poor and vulnerable. He obliquely conveys his disapproval and attacks against the helpless with loaded images. He employs as a major palette and a key visual the color of corroded metals sheets to be able to find the affinities with what is outdated, exposed, weak, fragile and he embeds this element in all his frames of subjects to show the ties of weak subjectivities and perversion of the unapologetic biases of those who orchestrate and support the killings and injustices.
The oscillation between black and white and as well as sepia colors also somehow pronounces such lifelessness and dislocation of elements making it appear lilke hollow environment that the government desperately insists to be the ideal order. It evokes such emptiness against what is revealed in the surface even while the inclusion of uninterested human subjects suggest that omission, indifference and silence are acts of violence as well.
Yet to Jerasano there is hope and silver lining. With these divisions and fissures that exists among us,he attempts to fill them images to generate attention and possibly offer different view and engage realizations. Opening up the cracks and digging through its crevices and inner reality forces us not just to take a position which the artist hopes is what should be catalyzed and invigorated.
Jeresano does not regularly work with thorough political references, slogans with padded political ideas and complex places of arguments but he firmly embraces that artists have the duty to re-imagine if not reinvent social relations and they are capable of presenting social conversations honestly and uniquely. This time, Jeresano turns more contemplative of the immediate condition around as he believes things artistically produced can be effective stir ideas and opinion. For him, it is not the time to be neutral and silent with these horrific developments and assault against humanity.