Monday, November 2, 2015

'Solitary Garden' by Leonardo Onia Jr.

Apologies for the sparse postings about Philippine contemporary art, but I've been stranded in the world of Kate Atkinson these past few weeks, ensnared by the six amazing books from the talented English writer. But here I am anyway, back on track, posting about the local art scene.

These paintings were shown as part of Leonardo Onia Jr.'s Solitary Garden exhibition at the Blanc Gallery in Katipunan last week. The collection features "Hitchcockian nightmare of headless human beings who have literally and figuratively lost their minds." Who are these people? Do we want to know the secrets they keep? All I can say is that Onia is one of the new local talents you need to know.

More about Solitary Garden:
"Well acquainted with personal tragedies that could cost a man his reason, Onia considers what it would be like to let go and give up. Imagine, he says, a normal Sunday afternoon going awry and leaving a family in tatters. Without word or warning, all that a man has lived for is taken away. There are only three possible endings according to Onia’s dark fantasy: death, madness, or a lifetime of misery. The resilience of the human heart is nowhere to be found in Solitary Garden. The mind snaps. The spirit breaks. The fragile grip on sanity is lost. People grow old. People die. All that is left is a pair of pants hanging lonely in a closet. 
The last thing Onia did before deeming his paintings finished was to burn specific areas on each canvas. The result of the process is a ghostly cloud of soot where a subject’s head should be, as if the head had exploded or spontaneously combusted. Onia explains that the black mark is a reminder of the irrevocable damage that a tragedy can inflict on a human being, of pain so great that those who survive it are forever changed. We may come back, he says, but we never fully return."

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