LOOKING FORWARD TO LANGKAWI
Art Critic & Artist
I look forward to communing with kindred artistic souls, from various generations of artists of various countries.
Adding meaning to the significant theme of "Migration" is the very act of travelling all the way to Langkawi Island in northern part of Malaysia, itself a foretaste of migrating, that is to say, leaving one's comfort zone, departing, even for a while from what is familiar, in order to journey, to fare forward, to embark on an experience of discovery and learning, to a place of artistic ferment and testing ground of new visual ideas. The journey will be at once a validation of the worth of tradition and an act of breaking barriers.
I look forward to communing with kindred artistic souls, from various generations of artists of various countries. Regardless of age or race, we are all bound together by a common and fervid love of the arts. I welcome the transformation to an enlivened consciousness, engendered by the unfolding of numerous superlative creations, the blending of energies and enthusiasms, passions and philosophies, beliefs and, surely to some extent, bewilderments. I hail the Langkawi Art Biennale for endorsing a fresh, vigorous and stimulating, as well as an inquiring and deeply introspective, reassessment of art. It is time that we reconsidered the condition of the way we live now: the anxiety of instability and the vulnerability of an existence stressed by economic and political forces, driving individuals to inevitable migration, and the consequent damage wrought on the human spirit by an uprooted and unmoored life.
Mind-expanding and heart-enriching: that, to me, will be the gift and blessing of Langkawi Art Biennale.
There are artworks that carry within themselves the light of illumination, projecting their own radiance, deliberately shaping their own message and meaning. Other artworks, however, are turned into themselves, by virtue of the artist's temperament and the broiling tension that their creator has embroiled them.
As a critic, one must perforce play the various roles of a surgeon with his sharp scalpel of analysis, and the lip-reading ability of an interpreter to decipher visual codes and semaphores. The critic must wrestle with imagery that empties itself out. He must be capable of catching the sudden shifts of slippery meanings or, indeed, the crystallized thoughts wrought in pigment and matter.
In analysing the Philippine collection of artworks conveying the theme of migration, one must, at the outset, deal with one wounding reality: the diaspora that has dispersed a great number of our countrymen into the the four winds. Propelled by a search for economic survival, lured by the fantasised roads paved with gold of the Western and Middle Eastern world, Filipinos have migrated to distant lands at the expense of broken homes and forlorn spirits of loved ones. To be sure, one expects the Filipino artists's works to be haunted by the spectre of migration.
The critic must apprehend the value of these artworks as invaluable vehicles of discourse towards an enlightenment of the issue of migration.
Cid Reyes is an art critic and artist who has had seventeen solo exhibitions to date and has authored books on several National Artists, including Arturo Luz and Napoleon Abueva. His collection of interviews, Conversations on Philippine Art, was published by the Cultural Center of the Philippines.