Mariano Ching and Yasmin Sison constitute one of the most dynamic artistic duos in Manila’s thriving contemporary art scene. While both artists have impressive careers in their own right, they also have a long history of working and exhibiting together. This exhibition marks the first New York presentation of their work in a combined format.
Both Ching and Sison met as early members of the seminal Manila based artist collective Surrounded By Water (19982006). Founded by fellow artist Wire Tuazon, SBW was a vital locus for curation, exhibition and exploration. Much of the collective spirit of the group has remained in the work of both artists, as they continue to develop separate but complementary investigations into the realm of fantasy, imagination, and reconfiguration.
As a painter, Yasmin Sison is known for works where her subjects are confronted with issues of duality or introversion. This can take the form of portraits where the figure is obscured or disturbed by abstract color fields, or still lifes of miniature furniture pieces vastly expanded beyond life size. Her collage work is a perfect example of the playful sense of wonder that is at the heart of her practice. They are a jumble of materials: paper, paint, old cardboard, shaped wood, foam cutouts. Their small scale might reference the doll house furniture seen in past paintings, while also reveling in the an almost childlike freedom of creation. In fact, some of the source material appears to come from children’s paper toy books. These brightly colored works not only reference Sison’s earlier themes, but also hold their own when compared with other material transmogrifiers such as Richard Tuttle.
Mariano Ching tends to dwell in the realm of otherworldly, psychedelic narratives. Through painting, sculpture drawing and installations he has often dealt with dystopic landscapes, phrenology and surreal juxtapositions. Examples of both his paintings and sculptures are incorporated into the exhibition. His 4part series There Are Things In The Woods continues his dark dreamscapes which symbolizes man’s existence in, and struggles with, nature. In it, strange anthropomorphic figures transverse a nighttime forest, where they encounter wild animals, ghostly apparitions, and the detritus of civilization. Ching’s sculptures are standalone irreverent totems. Figures covered in colored wax stand on either side of an object, like Ancient Egyptian Shabti figurines stoically guarding their objects of veneration and awaiting their moment of reanimation. These sculptures are meant to be viewed from different angles, as intricate details have been applied to not only their fronts and back, but also their visceral spaces.