JANUARY 15, 2022


Written by Carlomar Arcangel Daoana


Written in the body

Opening the year, Art Verite presents the two-artist exhibition, Embodiments, by Arvi Fetalvero and Winna Go. Composed of wall-bound mixed media works, the show highlights the unique practices of each of the artists, whose explorations delve into the mysteries and revelations of the self and the body, into the folds and layers of tradition and history. Their creative approach is enacted through meticulous and thoughtful constructions, with Fetalvero building up her sculptural torsos through resin and lace encaustic and with Go delicately painting and folding paper in the art of zhé zhǐ. Arrayed on the gallery walls, their works present a kind of organic and mutable seriality that points at a mindful consideration of an idea iterated through subtle shifts of thought.

For her sculptures, Fetalvero revisits a series of old works in which she casted her body and used the resulting mold as basis to create records of a self at a particular point of time. While the torsos seem to echo the naked figures of classical antiquity, the surface reveals the textures and patterns of lace, which conveys resistance to full disclosure—a guarded privacy in one’s own thoughts and feelings. Their expressive quality presents a body moving through space and time, a dynamism indicative of grace, volition, and independence. The wall-bound sculptures inscribe the artist’s thought processes, evolving experiences, and transformations onto the eloquent material, calcified as searing self-portraits.

Go, meanwhile, plumbs and interrogates notions connected to heritage and tradition through a collection of folded paper constructions resembling longbaos, or the dragon robe reserved only for the emperor. While the patterns and colors may appear to resemble the original, the artist has introduced distortions to the design to underscore how Chinese culture is not homogeneous, monolithic, and impervious to change. This idea becomes even more pronounced through her lens as both Filipino and Chinese born and raised at this juncture of history. Her works are not acts of reconciliation of the multiple strands of self but acknowledgments of multiplicity, hybridity, and ruptures inherent in these post-modern times.

Embodiments presents streams of figuration in Philippine visual arts activated by the positionality of the artists as gendered individuals and socio-historical subjects, inflected with the full awareness of how identities bear upon the works that one creates. Part of this approach is the use of non-traditional materials in order to prompt fresh channels through which thoughts and feelings may be mediated, whose presence effortlessly extends from the gallery space into pockets of real life. The artists transform these materials into what the sociologist Sherry Turkle calls “evocative objects,” whose innate longing for transformation is released by hands and becomes the vital vessel through which the inner language of the artists—from the lacework of Fetalvero to the evocative folds of Go—may be spoken.