They gave them land. And cement. And bricks.

Allan Balisi, Costantino Zicarelli, Luis Antonio Santos

December 1, 2022 - January 3, 2023



Of references and referencing—the entails of the whole visual landscape, like territory, is their domain to spread over other contexts: over language, memory, or nascent ideas. The image here becomes the index for pointing at another image, or another process, before or during the case of language, texts, gestures, and other forms. Movies, photographs, histories, or their combinations become the much-anticipated ‘referent,’ when the image goes circling back after having pierced through words, news, and other related media. 


The artists, Allan Balisi, Luis Antonio Santos, and Constantino Zicarelli have their own peculiar ways of circumnavigating visual ‘referents.’ But they also exude a commonality among them. Their subject matter explores the spectrum of visibility—-this, after they collide with other referents. The other referents here become the basis to complete the overall text. Photographs, films, documentaries, prints, and light—all of which are also part of the visual realm, which is why the referent seems to stand pure: image vs image vs image. When all is said and done, it is the one and same building block. The intertextuality of screen or lens-based imagery. ‘They gave them land. And cement. And bricks,’ might also translate to: It was visible, was seen, and therefore, was shown.


The building blocks for this show are a collection of narratives. In most cases cloaked or about the hidden. In certain cases, it is about how the narrative developed—or progressed in order to be concealed or to stay un-narrated. In Costantino Zicarelli’s works, the factors that contribute to the un-narration are the intertwined relations of history, propaganda, film, and popular culture. In fleshing out the fortuitous (or disastrous) association between the controversial Tasaday tribe and a Hollywood action film called Predator, his work, The land doesn’t shine on their sun (predator), becomes a commentary on the nebulous occurrences of fiction, of the fictionalized against the dramatized. In Luis Antonio Santos’ Fragmentation series, a narrative through layering becomes apparent. Here, the accumulation of layers constitutes what becomes visible or invisible.  It is, once again, the bouts of being seen against erasure that give way to a visual manifestation akin to memory, loss, or trauma.


In one of Allan Balisi’s paintings that carry the show’s title, They gave them land. And Bricks. And Cement, fragmentation becomes more synonymous to a ‘cropped-view’ which in turn would sufficiently translate into the visible, magnified. This kind of visibility—the attention to particulars—rings true across Balisi’s signature style. The visibilities found in both erasing (cropped view) and framing (magnification) make up for another layer of what it really means to be ‘seen.’ 


In bringing together their works, Balisi, Santos, and Zicarelli’s constitute some of the more interesting concepts in depicting scenes in contemporary painting. These are scenes that have gone through their own distinct processes and layers of recording/erasure, before they become part of the image-territory; as if given land, to build upon. And their building blocks seem to be always around us: in both the hidden and the visible.