Surround Sight

Tin-aw Art Gallery
Jun 17, 2015 9:48AM

Panoramic painting traditionally requires a physical situating within a view. It is two-fold – the author confronts the site that consumes him and assigns the omnipresent experience. By principle, panorama sweeps over the expanse as it captures all angles. Panoramic painting in history were often monumental and ushered a feeling of disorientation, as the viewer was drawn into the depicted scenery. Likewise, panorama is often associated with landscape as both visual orientation and subject. This visual device in painting coincided with photography’s venture into wide-format as well. In recent times, panorama has become a tool accessible for everyday use in mobile cameras and the like.

It is in this abridged account of panorama that artists from “Regarding Views” touch upon in their approach to the medium of spanning a vista or dealing with the topics of place. As one artist would find landscape painting as dangerous territory, another would find it an opportunity to head to the great outdoors. The tradition of landscape implicates in their process, shown in tribute as with Elaine Navas attention to Chaim Soutine in her attempt to make peace between her impasto abstract-inclined sky scape and the idea that landscape is only successful in realistic rendering. Renato Habulan applies similar esteem to the genre, and has taken upon himself to realise an immediate scenery of Baler through “plein air” (painting in the open air what the eye could see). The photographic strategy to panorama shown through a ‘segmented’ or ‘stitched’ image is employed by Leo Abaya’s setting.

While attention to these devices glimpse at the formalisms of panorama, topicality is eminent in projecting how artists seek to understand and expand notions of landscape. Landscape carries the prescribed experience of being swept up in awe. Often identified with nature, landscape is meant to consume a person in it – hence the monumentality of those genre paintings from 18th century  on – and the painting of it equates the human capacity to master that terror/sublime. Natural scenery endures in “Regarding Views” – horizons on the seas, magnified blooms – as historical grandeur likewise peeks through – the Pantheon. The span of the metropolis is perhaps a more contemporary notion of landscape. Here, Ferdie Montemayor tracts its bustling horizon. Landscape is also a speculative site in the case Ronald Jeresano’s painting, where the synchronicity of past infrastructure is mocked alongside the present monkey business. Folklore on creation, on the other hand, holds up a strange mirror to the real topography. Brenda Fajardo recalls how legends unfold in unbound time of actual sites like that a province in South Luzon.

Beyond the allegorical haze is also the idea of place as a portrayal of proximity. Intimate spaces are also considered in “Regarding Views”: for instance, Lee Paje’s studio and Renato Barja’s pillow arrangement. While landscape is recalled to what surrounds us immediately and foremost, it also extends further cartography – emotional and creative – in such innermost spaces. 

What “Regarding Views” recalls is not only the depiction of scenery and the sublime landscape – whether idiosyncratic or spanning an outdoor view. This range of understanding also enters imagined and allegorical spaces, often uninhabited by human figures. Like Jonathan Ching's images in his triptych, landscape becomes but a trigger to memory - recovering narratives as mercurial as nature's terrain onto the invisible self. In this absence, nature may again be referred to again a unified whole banishing fragmentary forces. Yet, this series pursues an extended cartography that is navigated through psychological and creative spaces – clues on having these sites lived on do not dissipate as those who left the clues had. As the panorama sweeps and consumes, human imprints emanate more so in the genre paintings of “Regarding Views”. 

Sidd Perez

Tin-aw Art Gallery