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Deus Ex Machina

In Interpretations on June 22, 2012 at 11:37 am

 

“Deus Ex Machina” is a Latin term which literally mean “god from the machine.”  The main component the painting is a paradoxical “machine-god” hoisting a cloned fetus.  It is a parody  to the obsessive nihilistic thinking of many who relied much on the machine to the point of making those machines as their  “gods” or to such extent that men wanted to become the lifeless and heartless ”machine-god”  themselves.  The terrifying armillary head of the “machine-god” showing off the bullets in its mouth is monstrous, grotesque and demonic. Such iconographic elements manifest the irreducible quality of the gods and represent death.  It evokes what seems to be an artificial path of man’s destiny towards a cold nihilistic future…the death of mankind and rise of the machine.

Some people today are “machine-god”.  They are so much engulfed by the machine, by the fast-rising technology.  They work like a machine, depend on machine to the point that they wanted to become machines themselves. Work for them is their priority that oftentimes they forgot to bond with their families. The proliferation and advancement of our technology disband and weaken our basic social structure which is the family. This is represented by the almost disappearing linear rendering of a towering structure in the painting. Some are addicted to computer games instead of interacting with their family. “Deus Ex Machina” reminds us what we and where we are now.  The fetus enclosed by a protective crystal shield hopes to offer a solution:  in spite of dominion of the machine in our lives, we should protect the newborns from the powerful claws of those machine-gods by reviving our spiritual connection with our Creator and strengthen the family ties once more through deep, meditative prayer.

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Reality Beyond Reality

In Reviews on June 22, 2012 at 10:25 am

Reality beyond reality is a psycho-intellectual domain that is the result of the psychological and intellectual formulations of man as a generic being. Sometimes called surrealism, it creates not only dualism of shapes and colors, but also a multi-verse which, in philosophy, means the plurality of worlds as conceived by the human mind. Human emotion is intertwined and makes its power work either way—to attract or to repel. And no way can anyone remain unmoved by this kind of reality as a way of articulating givens in the objective world into a new kind of reality beyond reality.

Dali, De Chirico, Delvaux count among the westerners who introduced this kind of domain into the world. Freud’s psycho-analysis was factored into the artists’ emotional-intellectual formulations. But grossly overlooked, particularly by the western art critics and historians, was a body politic caught teetering between world wars. The artists therefore sought refuge in the human mind which they thought was beyond the reach of bullets and other products of man’s evil genius: Technology. Both software and hardware. Include the moral dimension thrown out of sphere of significance.

In the local art scene, an artist has summoned the powers resident in her head, heart and hands to “confront” humanity with her own brand of reality beyond reality.

Camille dela Rosa, 27, in her 16th solo show titled “Aenigma” (ArtisCorpus Gallery, Haig, San Juan, MM, Dec. 5-28), demonstrates that hers is a ken that defies youth, and graphically shows that the irrational world leads to a rational discourse on her theme and variations. Man and machine and the latter’s manifold contraptions, spell humanity’s plight in today’s neticized world.

In Eternal Mother, the mother with hair cropped to a brown dotted halo, is emptied of brains which had been supplanted by a myriad of technological by-products. A woman, in all her glorious nudity, assumes a Christ-like stance on an invisible cross, with her greenish necktie hanging between her enormous breasts down to her path to paradise. Further down is a baby ready to come into this world, but what awaits it is a flower with a skull for a stigma. Cavernous is the larger woman’s torso that engulfs the muscular legs on high-heeled shoes. Nine dragonflies in diminishing shapes and intensities, flutter centerward to suggest the message of freedom and release from an insensate world.

This kind of woman’s world is echoed in Coatlicue. Behind is a woman’s buttocks—either augmented or au naturel—against whom the foreground woman is transformed into a grotesque being: Twin reptilian skulls for a head, a skull between her gorgeous breasts (by the way, difficult to paint, technically), a baby finding its exit down a serpentine world supported by legs with bird feet. The ground that looks like a tree trunk, or vice versa, rises to a crown of at least 17 skulls in various angles. Is this, or isn’t this the way the world, in the large, despicably looks down at women?

A minified woman, in the Christ-like stance sans a cross, but instead against the exposed brain of a big female figure that almost occupies the vertical canvas, is the central figure in the head of a large woman in Ouroboros. A brown snake with white stripes coils around the minified woman, with root-like veins sprouting from the skull of the magnified woman down the stony bottom. Behind the four caves is a structure that could pass for ancient ruins, with the central post-and-lintel door duplicating the inward direction of the upper cave wherein a baby dangles precariously.

Man’s gradual transmutation into a faceless mask, with innards and the cut-up heart exposed, is a pictorial discourse on man’s identity loss that now impends, thanks or no thanks to runaway technology, shown in Galahad. A solitary column, with skulls as base and capital, is a silencer to humanity’s cry for respect and human dignity where man and machine have exchanged roles.

The 3-part cycle of life shows generic man’s cycle (just the head) in denouement. The pelvic bone is central in Cycle of Life I, gets lost in the face of a person in profile (Cycle of Life II), and returns disfigured in Cycle of Life III. Man has returned to its skull state, with the leftward direction bringing the cyclic issue to its genesis—ghoulish and contentious.

If sacrilege rears its ugly head on God’s creation in His image, blame it not on people themselves, but on their senseless use of their inventions. And Dela Rosa offers a respite.

Sacred Bull reminds people about India where cattle, longhorn or shorthorn, is considered sacred.

This work shows a herd of longhorn breed, with a skeletal cowboy astride the carcass of a bull with the snout of a snarling wild beast.

The Awakening points to man’s awakening from a brutal and inhuman neticized world into a world where man is finally brought to the meaning of the Cross. The minimal Cross is due to perspective, but its central position is a hands-down clarification of Christ’s centrality in human life, machines and all notwithstanding. Dela Rosa herself emphasized this with the size of the canvas, 60” x 60”, making it the largest in her body of works in her current show.

Man’s own passion and death (the latter of identity and dignity), amid the cold contraptions at present, is not, certainly, the end of mankind, Dela Rosa assures her viewers. While Resurrection still shows skeletal figures, the arms this time now start to rise, with the bones tapering upward, displaying strength, as the game at the center chirp in silent abandon.

Despite the initial shock that the artworks give to viewers, they are, conceptually at core, subtle yet focused. This is clearly shown in the figures’ centrality, and the fact that Dela Rosa, firmly in control of her faculties, has diffused the background of each work.

All the works are noted for their originality of concepts, and their strength is subtlety.

 

by PAUL BLANCO ZAFARALLA

November 29, 2009, Manila Bulletin