Monday, March 18, 2019

Nagsiga ako ng apoy sa hapon, hinalina ako ng usok patungong kawayanan

We are of the fire.
Heraclitus from Greek mythology believed that the soul consisted of water and fire and that the pursuit for 'enlightenment,' to becoming pure fire, is the eternal quest of the soul. Most, if not all, myths of the world have interpretations of fire, from Plato to the philosophers of the far east. Fire exists in embodiments present in both earth and spiritual planes. Zeus Bascon, through his fourth solo exhibition "Huwag Mong Huyagin ang Punong Walang Bunga," attempts to illustrate the earth form of fire transported from its spiritual realm. Inspired by a burnt coconut tree in a lot he frequents in his hometown Laguna, he unravels a narrative of how the santelmo or St. Elmo's fire came to be. The same myth has versions across cultures and countries which reveals it as a bright glow, but almost always, as a ball of fire.
His work "Open Face" is a fire net, an entrapment device, he conceptualized to catch the santelmo. For him, the net will aid him in seizing the santelmo and the agimat that comes with it. Using the predominant manifestation of fire, he used foil tape, grommet and acrylic to mimic the tongues of flame, to catch fire with fire. The work comes with a self-portrait installed behind the net. A work on paper, it's a depiction of the artist with a welcoming aura that enchants spirits and elementals. The works "Devil Man 1-3" is a series of portraits based on drawings of Dark of C. Use by Dave Victis R. Sikot. Bascon got hold of a paper with the drawings by Sikot when his dog brought it home. Three recreations of the illustrations are layered and illuminated by red fluorescent lights. The level of mystery how materials or ideas reach him keeps the intensity of his enchantment with the spiritual very high.
With the goal of experimenting on medium and materials, he also completed more that a hundred works on paper and compiled them into a book titled "105 Drawings." The book serves as a documentation of his interactions with fire, with elementals and the earth plane. Prolifically drawing every chance he could using any object in hand, Bascon drew the pages from November 2015 to March of 2016. The product is an array of images familiar and trivial, intriguing and complementing his enduring fascination with fire. The other works displayed for the exhibition are mostly offshoot ideas or graphics from the book. Some are accidental base materials from the major works he made. The tarpaulin medium from "Dead Masks" for example, are used when he made the fire net. The lines that decorate the masks are excess strokes from drawing the flames. Like fire that burns all that it touches, the essence of the works displayed can be rooted from the natural and tangible connections with each other.
The experience of mysticism offered in the presentation of Bascon's new works is of contemplation and a return to intuition. He plots for us the possible existence of the unknown yet he allows us to navigate the narratives on our own.
-Con Cabrera

photos by Jed Escueta/Pablo Gallery