NO WHERE / NOW HERE
What defines place? If a sense of place is defined by memory, with no one to perceive it, can it become a noplace or simply a landscape? 1 If unsupported by the faculties of recollection, the objects become invalid, the space rendered as voidness. Pope Bacay processes translations of his mind and current states to produce landscapes that reconcile with the illusory aspects of memory. Through cycles of steady deliberation on canvas, Bacay expresses reverence to mentors who ingrained conscious discipline of materials in the studio, enabling the materialization of a sense of place.
In “Nowhere / Now here”, the series shifts between the artist’s experimentation with forms and painted frames:
Bacay presents fragments of identifiable shapes that persist in line with the definition of abstraction, as images with unknown concrete existence. The larger size demands involvement with the landscapes, as architectural semblances are manipulated in irregular directions. Idiosyncratic yet subdued, elements of midcentury design in Philippine suburbanism appear in pastel slat walls, interseciting Machuca tiles, brick walls, and barristers. Certain windows reveal views shaded with murky skies.
Alternately the self-referential frame carries origins from the artist’s own impressions as a youth observing landscape paintings hung at home. Understood as an illusion of the window, scenes of the verdant outdoors were compressed as if a portal. Now through acrylic, Bacay continues this concept that the window can be substituted via frames.
While realistic in rendition, Bacay’s fabrications create new existences that arise between inside and outside views. The artist tests his capacity to create a new sense of place from what resides within the mind. Based on memory and snapshots from archives in the city, companions, or anonymous locales, the depictions go beyond geographic expectations, emphasizing the involvement of people, although not immediately visible. Understanding of landscape becomes a part of the hermeneutical narrative with neither tangible form nor land, but instead flavor, society, and movement, with the confidence that insentient artworks assimilate these energies.
Certain frames reflect tempos of time such as towers and sunrises before and at the end of festivities. Many of the forms stem from the artist’s hometown in Roxas, Oriental Mindoro, as Bacay expresses a longing for life on the southern island near the port. Noting houses from the seventies lining the coastline, he is drawn to similar places on canvas, exploring memories of situations been to in the past and anticipating areas never yet visited. Such depictions satisfy the serial familiarity the artist longs for, resulting in utter relief by surrender to the lure of the local. Bacay breaks the elusiveness of a sense of place, defining such through lived experience.
1 Lucy Lippard, The Lure of the Local (New York: New Press, 1998), 23-33