This exhibit deals with popular standards for painting such as the figure and landscape, blending sentimentality with irony, exploring representational form in tandem with traditions of gestural expression and biomorphic abstraction. Beauty is also the working theme of Garden Savage, connecting it with pop culture to present underlying issues of taste with a sense of humor.
The Popular is something I’ve been thinking with regards to these works, referring to what stays in the minds of the many, like songs that linger against the force of one’s will, and most definitely, thinking of what beauty is – the constant cause of most of our artistic arguments that is second only to the loss of its value to automated media, albeit, a bewildering yet tantalizing source of social collateral, but ultimately resting on the proverbial eyes of the beholder. Therefore, saying figurative painting in one breath sounds quaint when we’re all surrounded by politics and social media, stuff with its emphasis on novelty and the spectacular in all of its spread, all of which downgrades arguments about singular painterly touch, time, texture, form, gesture, and such into staid drools coming from a crotchety old man. Talking about painting and beauty, the figurative, will most likely lose hipster points in any bar setting you can find until you begin to name drop pop stars like Beyoncé and Rihanna, or again maybe not, and begin to wonder what exactly they’re rambling on to make you get caught in nonsensical rhymes like “work work work work work” which in the end provides you with pleasure, guilty nonetheless, enjoying the outrageous illogical performance as some sort of out of body experience and ecstatic mind control. It doesn’t makes sense but it feels good, a purposeless purposiveness if Kant would say. And the guilt trip included could be a Freudian condition of bad conscience if not a religious reference to the denial of carnal pleasure in order to be saved, perhaps. So the body becomes a critical interest here as subconscious desire, in addition to lending its form (I’m in love with your body) as a territory or arena for painterly conquests (see de Kooning. And even Picasso, who had a problematic history with women as artistic muse). Ravaging the figure also paves the way towards amazing painterly tricks like gratuitous saturated color and tonal range, striated lines and elastic brushwork, fractured planes that connect into contoured zones, from representational into the non-objective, yada yada yada. Painting thus reincarnates itself into the discussion now of what can be authentic experience, post-truth, flogging that dead horse of the political as personal. Another way of saying it would be in order for painting to be political it has to look good. So painting the most beautiful and the most popular thing you could think of around you could also be the vaguest (or most abstract) provocation an artist could ever do without even knowing it. Alright, got me looking so crazy right now.
Arvin Flores has an MFA graduate degree from The School of the Arts, Columbia University, New York NY, and a BFA from the College of Creative Studies, University of California at Santa Barbara. He has shown at The University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Hampden Gallery, Columbia University’s LeRoy Neiman and Wallach Art Galleries, Aljira Contemporary Art Center NJ, Southern Exposure Gallery CA, and has participated in various exhibits here in Manila. Flores has also done independent curatorial work, and writes as an extension of his creative and critical practice.