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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

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The Virgin of the Rose

In Reviews on June 25, 2009 at 1:59 pm
The Virgin of the Rose by Camille Dela Rosa

The Virgin of the Rose by Camille Dela Rosa

By Noel Sales Barcelona

The message of the painting is being a woman in a macho society is not that easy. You are being mechanized; your movement, thoughts and personality are being suppressed by the norms of the society.

You needed to dress like this, to talk like this, and think like this. Thus the “wild” side of a woman likes what Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Jungian analyst wants to say, had been, for a long time, buried; the sacred ground of where the spirit of true femininity can freely offer itself to the True Self had been bulldozed and bastardized; and the nurturing nature of woman had been replaced by synthetic, whore-like emotions.

The gall bladder, at the left side of the painting, depicts this bitter reality. The central image which is like being sacrificed to the mechanical, brain-faced and honeycomb haired God, reinforces the observation of this reality, women are being controlled, not to make them better persons and have been treated as objects and subjects of desire.

The women are also burdened by different crises of life: economic, political, and even moral. They are burdened by work, as the resources are scarce.

They are burdened by pregnancy, birth and child-rearing. It is the woman being blamed for a delinquent child.

They are burdened by personal crisis: emotional and psychological, sometimes. As coping mechanism, some of the women tend to “free” themselves by being sexually liberated, therefore falling into the pit of falsehood that the only freedom of the woman can get is just the freedom to express her self through copulation or sexual intercourse.

However, these crises can also be treated as opportunities for a woman to grow emotionally, psychically, physically and spiritually—the symbol of the rose and the child, being conceived inside a heart, underneath the central image of the painting.

But how can they translate it as an opportunity is for them to meditate and listen to the Voice inside of them.

Nevertheless, one must toil and work hard to be able to recognize this Voice as this is being engulfed by the noise of this world of ours.

Moreover, there is a need also for the women to recognize their role to the society, not only as keepers of the home and the helpers of the man, but also the keepers of the balance of this “universe.”

As the woman has the power to give life, it is also her role to keep this world alive by participating actively in the development of the society, for the good of all mankind.

The Virgin of the Rose

by Adi Baen Santos

The objective of the painting has put up a challenge to your skill in doing oil renditions of the human body parts. The result is remarkable but it might also have immersedyou in an unstoppable passion to create so many symbols. However, I respect the innate ability of a mature artist to rationalize every element he/she introduces on the canvas. In that case, there are never too many elements for there is always a way to unite them and lead them to their logical conclusion. A logically finished painting does not necessarily put across a message conforming to the real intention of the artist but it gives the viewer a point where to gather the pieces and define their interrelationships to come up with a coherent meaning in the painting.

I was temporarily lost in so many details in the painting but I managed to perceive an idea just by looking at the periphery of the largest image that appears to be that of a male figure. I could not be mistaken that there are two legs signifying a woman bending forward to the man. If a woman bends forward naked, it is “bottoms up” for the center of her femininity and her rose comes in full bloom. Your penchant for botanical and anatomical presentations resulted in an image of the flower of the woman, magnified and cross sectioned, to show all powers connected to womanhood— foremost is the power to bear offspring. But what is most conspicuous is another image of a woman– a full, naked, young feminine body, lying in the center. It has confused everything for a while, knowing in principle that no two symbols in any work of art must oppose each other. My only way to resolve this is to interpret it as the very nerve center of feminine sensation—the
clitoris, most probably untouched, as suggested by the title of the painting. It can be a decisive point of fall or of chastity, depending on issues regarding legitimate sex and moral standard. Another possibility, which I’m less comfortable with, is that, it is the image of a woman who has sprung up from hibernation from the womb below, ready to test the perils of puberty and encounters with the opposite sex.

THE CHALICE

In Reviews on June 25, 2009 at 3:18 am

The Chalice by Camille Dela Rosa

The Chalice by Camille Dela Rosa

by Noel Sales Barcelona

The three skulls being supported by a foot, standing on the land covered with bones, which comprise the Chalice, is the symbol of three (3) elements of man: mind, body and spirit; the foot, depicts the eternal quest of man for perfection.

That is why, the three is enclosed by a halo: the symbol of purity or holiness—which is the highest phase of human development.

However, to be able to achieve perfection, one must master not the mundane but the ethereal, the Spiritual, which is being symbolized by the perfectly red, shining ruby, in the forehead of the middle skull.

On the other hand, the Chalice also means Life Eternal. In the mystical tradition, the bones and skulls, are the symbols of the eternal (What you sow does not come to life unless it dies, 1 Corinthians 15: 36).

To make it more complete, the lizard (Jesus Christ lizard) looking at the chalice is the symbol of regeneration as well as the power of the man to overcome death by making himself knowledgeable to the ways of the Eternal.

THE CHALICE – A Biblical Interpretation

by Fiel Meria and David Nakpil

The chalice is a well-known symbol in Christian tradition. During the Last Supper, Jesus Christ had professed as he lifted a chalice of wine, to do this ritual in remembrance of him. The chalice then, is a container that serves as a symbol of our memory of him. He wanted us to know – to have knowledge of him, his deeds and his commitment to the salvation of mankind. In a sense, it is knowledge that can save us.

In the creation account of Genesis, there are two trees mentioned. One is the tree of life, and the other is the tree of knowledge of good and evil. An interpretation made by theologian Henri Nouwen is that the first sin of man had been a sin of the appetite – wherein his eating of the fruit showed his desire to be all-knowing or “omnipotent.” He maintains that wisdom to know good and evil isn’t a sin in itself – what is sinful is to desire it in order to wield power. This power we recognize is something that we should leave to God alone.

The painting then, is an interaction of symbols that represent wisdom from the symbolism of the chalice in Christian tradition and the creation account. The shape of the skulls, with the halo around it secured by a foot mimics that of a tree – the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The halo represents life which is good, and the skulls and bones represent death which is sinful. The halo being above all other symbols represent the triumph of life over death.

Notice that the animal in the painting is a lizard, who symbolizes man as he walks on two legs. More often than not, man succumbs to his appetite. This means that besides our rational nature, we also have an animalistic nature that often succumbs to our inner desires and motives. As he stares at the bright red jewel – the forbidden fruit, he is tempted by the desire to be omnipotent by eating it.

Not surprisingly, when one is asked what the center of the painting is we answer that is the probable would be the red jewel. It is in our nature to be attracted to earthly desires – what is expensive, shiny or beautiful. We do not notice the two eyes above it – represented by God who is always watching us. When Adam and Eve were hiding in the garden, God asked them where they were – and yet he knew where they were. Perhaps the wisdom of the chalice is to humble ourselves and let us be found by God, because even in our refusal to be found, he knows where we are.

Camille’s Chalice of Evolution, Revolution: From impressionism to surrealism

In Reviews on June 13, 2009 at 4:47 pm

By Noel Sales Barcelona

Camille Dela Rosa’s complete departure from landscapes and gardens, those who are considered the natural, the beautiful is quite impressive.

Ms. Camille Jean Verdelaire D. Dela Rosa is now trying to swim into the ocean of the surreal, the morbid, the mechanical, the unknown and her cruising can be said, quite smoothly; as if the 26-year old artist had already mastered how to pilot her boat without the compass, only looking at the constellations and the moon and the planets, as her guide.

She said, she just put parts of the human body, the beasts on the ground and underwater, birds flying on the air, and other elements of the “not-so-beautiful” on the immaculate white canvass, and the philosophical pieces of artworks are born.

Portrait of Anatomy- Charcoal on Paper

Portrait of Anatomy- Charcoal on Paper

It is undeniable, the surrealist arts and literature was born during the time of chaos, at the time of the destructive world wars.

It flourished in Europe between World Wars I and II, and principally grew out of the earlie Dada movement, which before the World War I produced works of anti-art that deliberately defied reason; but Surrealism emphasis was not on negation but on positive expression.

The movement represented a reaction against what its members saw as the destruction wrought by the “rationalism” that had guided European culture and politics in the past and had culminated in the horrors of World War I.

According to the major spokesman of the movement, the poet and critic André Breton, who published “The Surrealist Manifesto” in 1924, Surrealism was a means of reuniting conscious and unconscious realms of experience so completely, that the world of dream and fantasy would be joined to the everyday rational world in “an absolute reality, a surreality.”

Drawing heavily on theories adapted from Sigmund Freud, Breton saw the unconscious as the wellspring of the imagination. He defined genius in terms of accessibility to this normally untapped realm, which, he believed, could be attained by poets and painters alike. This movement continues to flourish at all ends of the earth. Continued thought processes and investigations into the mind produce today some of the best art ever seen.

In the Philippines, there are just few good surrealist painters. These include Bienvenido Bones Banez, Jr., and now perhaps, De la Rosa who is now making noise in the surrealist world.

Portrait of Anatomy

Portrait of Anatomy

Unknown to many, the young De la Rosa who is known to enchant her viewers and collectors with her gardens, landscapes, Churches, beaches and people, are into the surreal since the early 2000. Her Portrait of an Anatomy, had won a distinction on the prestigious 58th Annual Artists’ Association of the Philippines (AAP) Competition in 2005.

Last year, her Hordes of Charlatan came into view, a philosophical and political statement of the young artist against the quackery and greed of those who are in power. It is also served as mirror of her subconsciousness and super-consciousness, for the painting meditates not only on death but also on eternity; bones and skulls in the Gnostic beliefs symbolize the resurrection of the pure soul.

Amazingly, her new set of works, which she had struggled to finish amidst busy schedule and taking care of a sick hound (De la Rosa is a dog-lover), offer refreshing thoughts to ponder about life, knowledge, human and social developments, and the reaching of the Higher Self.

Her Backward Development, with the spectacle-wearing monkey drawn upside-down, amid the criss-cross of bones, woman’s and man’s hands, holding a skull with a lighted candle on it, and fingers with eyes, is indeed an interesting piece.

There were rumors that the society, because of the self-destruct qualities of men, are now going again to its primitive state. Darwin’s theory of evolution had become futile in this piece of art, which says, that due to the men’s materialism, his clinging to the temporary (wealth, body desires, etc.) had made him ignorant to the ultimate goal of life, which is the attainment of Eternity or the immortality of one’s soul.

Backward Development - Oil on Canvas

Backward Development - Oil on Canvas

However, one can argue that the ultimate goal of life is to attain happiness that can be extracted through money, sex and food; that obtaining all of these can bring one to the Harlem or the Oasis of Existence. But, is there anyone has meditated on the fact that the more you wanted, the more you are starved; and the more that you become intelligent or wise, the more you become foolish? As of King Solomon, one of the wisest kings of the Old Israel said, “Everything is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1: 1, 3, 8, 16-18; King James Version, 1611).

On the other hand, her Chalice shows the viewer of the men’s ultimate destiny: to become eternal by having the complete union with the Supreme.

The three skulls enveloped in a golden halo, with the exposed brains in its complete and partial forms, and the palate showing a complete set of teeth, simply represent the fullness of the unknown wisdom (as the viewers can see, the only a portion of the two brains are exposed, except the middle brain), in which the Man struggles to pursue.

The Jesus Christ lizard on the lower-right hand corner of the colorful canvas represents the regenerative process of the Soul. As one is struggling to learn the process of Immortality by mastering the wisdom taught by the Spirit itself, the one can be assured that anyone who diligently seek Her, can find her and that the Almighty is indeed generous to give Her and her fruits to those who love Him. (Sirach 1: 10, a book of the Apocrypha).

The red, bright shining ruby in the middle of the forehead of the central skull is the verification of the Spiritual, although according to the creator of the work she has not known such interpretation of her work, wisdom of the painting. (Proverbs 3: 13-15).

What is more interesting in this piece, is only a foot that carries all the weight of the three skulls (that can be symbolically interpreted as the wisdom, yesterday, today and the morrow) and that broke bones are scattered all over the foot of the canvas. Is this an agreement with the words of the Proverbs 3: 21-23 (KJV): “My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.”?

The third work, The Awakening seems to be the combination of the ephemeral and the ethereal, the carnal and the spiritual, the wisdom and the folly.

With man as the center of the heart of man, it is visibly a statement of the artist’s observation of the society: Everyone seems not to care with one another, and while one eye is looking on the realities, one is blinded with greed and selfishness which hinders him or her to have the complete view of the what is happening to the society.

Nevertheless, the Burning Bush on the upper part of the dissected body, with roots are found in the seeing eye, salvages the entire negativity of the picture. In the book of Exodus, Yahweh, the Almighty God spoke to Moises through a burning bush, which symbolizes the eternal light and the consuming power of the Righteousness and Love of God.

From there, Yahweh had instructed Moises how to salvage the Israelites, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, His chosen people, from the yoke of slavery.

With the knowledge and the complete love for the Divine as the center of the journey of men to his salvation—represented by the brain wherein the extended roots of the Burning Bush is connected—one can be assured his or her filthiness can be purged and the real Self, can be released, the strong and the free one (symbolized by the wolf).

The alligator’s skull which serves as the opening of the womb of the dissected body, can be a center of a positive reflection, too. Notwithstanding its “common” symbol of greedy politicians or world leaders, in the Egyptian mythology, the crocodile or the alligator represents strength, wealth and fertility. Remembering Taweret, the Egyptian hippo-crocodile-lioness goddess of the Nile which protects the women in pregnancy and birthing, and although considered as the wife of the devil god Apep, is the protector of everyone against evil spirits.

Nonetheless, the alligator as a replacement of the female’s vagina, can also be interpreted as the hunger for sex or the fullness of one’s sexuality and the never ending appetite for material enjoyment.

In the whole, her The Awakening can really awaken one who is searching his or her self, and can attain the promises of Enlightenment. (30)

BEAUTY IN MORBIDITY Young Camille Dela Rosa Swims in the Sea of the Surreal

In Reviews on June 13, 2009 at 3:37 pm

By Noel Sales Barcelona

If the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is universally acceptable, it can thus be said that there’s real beauty in the “morbid” canvases of the young painter in bloom, Ms. Camille Jean Verdelaire D. de la Rosa.

She now departs from her usual themes of gardens, landscapes and “real” people. The 26-year-old impressionist artist, Ms. Camille de la Rosa, escapes from the “happy” faces and places of her artistic world.

With torn flesh, skulls, and distorted faces, combined with beasts’ body parts, De La Rosa’s canvases now bleed with different moods and expression of the human face – thus remaking the concept of beauty, of dreaming, of chaotic and peaceful realities.

Unknown to many, De La Rosa’s inclination toward the surreal isn’t new. She began to paint the bizarre in the early 2000s while she was introducing herself to the world of expressionism. She even won an award for her work then, she told this writer when he paid a visit to her home at the back of one of the oldest universities in Mandaluyong.

A compound statement of artistic genius

Hordes of Charlatan

Her Hordes of Charlatan is a compound statement of how brilliant and what a genius the painter is. It is both a philosophical and a political statement. It is about how she views the world, in its entirety and particularities, and how she reexamines the relationships of humans to each other and to the world.

The piece was exhibited at the SM Megamall, at the S.O.N.A. Group exhibition spearheaded by another great artist, Joel “Welbart” Bartolome, which ran from Dec. 28, 2008 to Jan. 5, 2009.

“It’s a statement about greed and quackery,” De la Rosa thus describes her work of interlocking bones, overlapping skulls, multi-legs, and phantom-like images. Greed is now the wheel driving this society of ours and the author will not disagree with how it was depicted in De la Rosa’s pieces.

In today’s society, politicians are not leaders but undertakers; judges are guardians of sepulchers; the businessmen are worms eating the flesh.

Wittingly or unwittingly, the painter had put into her painting all the elements of what “human society” is today and how the human mind is being molded by the decaying culture of greed, selfishness, and of the praise of money.

However, Hordes of Charlatan, which can be considered as one of De la Rosa’s magnum opuses, can be interpreted in many other ways.

The mystical and the mythical

The skull with the cross-bones is not actually a symbol of death but rather of life. As the Apostle Paul said, “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53).

It is by the death of Christ (crossbones) in the Mountain of Skulls (Golgotha) that everyone who believes is being restored into his or her original state, as the Apostle Paul told the Romans: “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living” (14:9).

To make it simpler, the bones and the skull symbolize the death, burial and resurrection of the lamb, which is called “Christ”.

If one will reexamine De la Rosa’s work, one can see in it the symbols of the said ancient mystery of Christ.

That De la Rosa would tackle this theme is not a surprise: her father, also a renowned painter, is a student of the Occult – a subject which, its students say, can help us to understand more of ourselves and can be a reminder that everything and everybody will fade or pass away

But de la Rosa’s crossbones and the skull can also mean death to the said enemies of faith. It serves as warning to those who wants to go astray to repent and to go back to the basic tenets of the faith taught by the Teacher, Christ.

Death

The picture that the young De la Rosa painted also fits the meditation of Carl Jung, a famous psychoanalyst, on death:

I have often been asked what I believe about death, that unproblematical ending of individual existence.

Death is known to us simply as the end. It is the period, often placed before the close of the sentence and followed only by memories of aftereffects in others.

For the person concerned, however, the sand has run out of the glass; the rolling stone has come to rest. When death confronts us, life always seems like a downward flow or like a clock that has been wound up and whose eventual “running down” is taken for granted.

We are never more convinced of this “running down” than when a human life comes to its end before our eyes, and the question of the meaning and worth of life never becomes more urgent or more agonizing than when we see the final breath leave a body which a moment before was living. How different does the meaning of life seem to us when we see a young person striving for distant goals and shaping the future, and compare this with an incurable invalid, or with an old man who is sinking reluctantly and without strength to resist into the grave!

Youth — we should like to think — has purpose, future, meaning, and value, whereas the coming to an end is only a meaningless cessation.

If a young man is afraid of the world, of life and the future, then everyone finds it regrettable, senseless, neurotic; he is considered a cowardly shirker. But when an aging person secretly shudders and is even mortally afraid at the thought that his reasonable expectation of life now amounts to only so many years, then we are painfully reminded of certain feelings within our own breast; we look away and turn the conversation to some other topic.

The optimism with which we judge the young man fails us here.

Naturally we have on hand for every eventuality one or two suitable banalities about life which we occasionally hand out to the other fellow, such as “everyone must die sometime,” “one doesn’t live forever,” etc. But when one is alone and it is night and so dark and still that one hears nothing and sees nothing but the thoughts which add and subtract the years, and the long row of disagreeable facts which remorselessly indicate how far the hand of the clock has moved forward, and the slow, irresistible approach of the wall of darkness which will eventually engulf everything you love, possess, wish, strive, and hope for — then all our profundities about life slink off to some undiscoverable hiding place, and fear envelops the sleepless one like a smothering blanket.

With this, De la Rosa’s Hordes of Charlatan can be a monument, a constant reminder that we must always reexamine our conscience, the truth or what we believe to be the truth, and the life we are living. For it is hard to when you are in your deathbed and no one can hear your agony, your pain, except your self – which is about to vanish from the face of the earth