Geraldine Javier 'Beyond the veil'
Period: 7 June- 7 July, 2013
Opening Reception: 7 June, 6pm
Venue: Arario Gallery Seoul
Arario Gallery presents Geraldine Javier (born in 1970, in the Philippines)’s solo exhibition from June 7th to July 7th.
Contemporary Art in Southeast Asia
Recently, Southeast Asian Art has made its presence known in Korea. Arario Gallery hosted a large scale special exhibition called “Beacons of the Archipelago,”which is the first gallery presentation to introduce Southeast Asian Art to Korea. Since then, Arario Gallery has been constantly introducing prominent and competent artists from the region including the Philippines and Indonesia through exhibitions and Art Fairs.
Contemporary Southeast Asian art is already fascinating the world, following the footsteps of the two giants China and India. This remarkable growth is connected to the area’s explosive economic growth in fields including finance, based on its accessibility as the juncture of Asia and the Pacific, and the abundance of resources and labor force. Moreover, various artistic activities that autonomously grew out of the society in order to express and representthe long traumatic history of colonization, the social discontent and inequality resulting from modernization, corruption and violence, racial and religious conflicts, have come to the fore in the global art events like Biennales with the advent of cultural pluralismand postmodernism. Due to the shortage of basic art infrastructure such as art museums or galleries, art works were introduced through alternative spaces such as artist villages, and eventuallyaccessedthe market through auction housesthat had noticed the potential of such spaces. This trend was also supported by young and competent individual collectors (e.g. the Nouveau Riches) in Southeast Asian countries, who actively advocated and introduced artists from their countries.
Among various Southeast Asian countries, Indonesia and the Philippines has been prominent in the art world. Especially, Pilipinoartists including Geraldine Javier share the Spanish catholic tradition coming from the long history of colonization, American consumerism, combinations of indigenous religions and Catholicism, and the experience of hard-earned democratization after prolonged periods of military dictatorship. Therefore, the art works coming from the Philippines are characterized by highly sophisticated conceptual paintings, compositions that remind the viewers of Spanish murals, strongly religious symbols, mythological imagination and social critique.
“This exhibition does not talk about deaththat can be calmly accepted. Some struggle to avoid death, others scream, and yet others shiver in fear –this is their story. Here, I wish to show different modes of death, and various ways of acceptance. This is how I express my anxiety.”–
Imaginations on life and death, a universally shared element in human existence, are prominent themes in art. The notion of life and death is accompanied by concepts such as fate, decision, destiny and freedom. Therefore, mankind exploredcountless factors that relate to death, seeing death as a natural partner, the object of fear and refusal, somethingthat pushes us to reflect on our lives, the combination and separation of physical and mental death. These factors were reproduced into fascinating talesand symbols through art. Geraldine, referring to existing ways of expression such as mythological and religious tales and characters or artworks, summons icons of death, such as Mary Magdalene, the Grim Reaper), and the Three Fates.
Magdalene Talking to Past, Present, Future, 2013Mary Magdalene, the heroine of this piece, is a woman we see in the New Testament of the bible, who appears as a faithful follower of Jesus after he had cured her of illness. Based on her tale in the New Testament, this piece depicts her courage, how she stood by Jesus during his excruciating moments of pain and witnessed not only his death but also resurrection and thereafter.
Another piece, entitledThe Erl King's Cage, 2013, is the story of King Erl, a ghost well known in Germany and Scandinavia for luring children into forests, torturing and eventually killing them. King Erl, known as an entity similar to Satan in Christian mythology, catalyzes evil acts by instilling wrong visions or futile desires. This pieceinvokes chilly feelings of darkness everyone experiencesin their childhood, and memories of primal fear towards dark and evil things that visit us in the night.
The Weight of the World, 2013, a piece comprising both painting and sculpture installation,presents the Grimm Reaper. The Grimm Reaper, seen as the god of death in various civilizations, is often represented as a skeletonwearing a black hooded cape, holding a scythein his hand. Geraldine Javier uses this typical image, but reconstructs it with sculptures, lace and gowns. The Reaper is arising out of a deep valley in the painting’s background, posing as if runningtowards the viewers. The Reaper, as one who cuts off the spirits of those about to die and leads them to the yonder world, is offering a necklace to the viewers, as if welcoming them to the land of the dead.
Death to the King: Taong Grasa (2013)depicts homeless men in the Philippines, those who had lost their life’s foundation, roaming on the streets and living day to day. Taong Grasa is the Pilipinoword for homeless people. The artist presents the desolate lives of those who cannot control their own fate, from birth to death, in the form of a solitary girl abandoned on the beach. The girl is accompanied only by birds that do not even know whether she is alive or dead, constantly watching for feed. The piece shows the human condition of mortality in reality, in the face of the system represented in the form of the King.
For countless years, the subjectof death has revealed itself to mankind in various shapes and meanings. It signified annihilation and the end of the world, or a gateway to the afterlife, offering
solace to those who suffer from reality. In short, despite the different visions of death in the East and West, we humans still share the notion that life and death are points on a continuum. Geraldine Javier portrays continuous natural phenomena such as trees, waterfalls and the ocean with meticulous and mystical touches, combining them with symbols of death and showing how the properties and manifestations of death have endured throughout time.
Geraldine Javier was born in Manila (the Philippines) in 1970. She attended nursing school and actually worked as a nurse for some time, but later she realized her talent in art and matriculated in art school. Her newly found talent quickly brought her to the art world’s attention during her time in school, resulting in numerous group and solo exhibitions from 1995 to the present. She won the Ateneo Art Award in the Philippines in 2004, and recently held a large scale solo exhibition at Singapore Tyler Print Institute and Vargas Museum (Manila, the Philippines) in 2012 and 2013. In 2010, her work was auctioned off at a price that exceeds seven times the expected price at Hong Kong’s Christie’s Auction. In 2011, she presented religious and mysterious images in her figurative paintings through her first solo exhibition at Arario Gallery. She is currently a leading artistboth in the critical and creative sphere, representing Southeast Asian art.