In a world riddled with isolation and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us find ourselves in a constant state of introspection. My own train of thought usually takes on the form of an internal dialogue with thoughts like “how did we get ourselves into this mess?” or “could we have done anything differently to prevent this?” The common thread that links all of these – they are all realizations in hindsight.
Centripetal by Mara Fabella
Arts Talk PH, a digital platform that democratizes art by bringing artists, collectors, and enthusiasts together, has harnessed this idea through their maiden exhibit Hindsight is 20/20, a beautifully curated collection of art by artists who have elegantly translated their own individual perspectives, drawing particularly from their realizations during self-isolation. The featured artists include 1111, Alfonso Recto, Analee Angeles, Bea Policarpio, Chino Carlo, Ian Inoy, Ina Jardiolin, Ireland Jill, Isabel Barredo-Del Mundo, Jane Cuevas, Janroe Cabiles, Mara Fabella, Mariel Garcia, Nasser Lubay, Summer De Guia, Sunshine Teodoro, and Woman, Create.
Launched via Arts Talk PH’s official website last June 24, Hindsight is 20/20 is a study on the duality of art, apparent in both the collection as a whole and its individual pieces. It intends to prepare for the future by examining the past. According to Arts Talk PH, “It attempts to arrange these realizations and acknowledge how irreparably flawed we humans are. Our flaws led to our demise, but our values would drive us to survive.”
Into The Unknown by Bea Policarpio
During a Facebook Live Q&A held simultaneously with the exhibit’s digital launch, the artists were asked to share their key realizations during quarantine and how self-isolation has changed their artistic process. There was a general sense of nostalgia among the artists, a longing for the time when they could physically celebrate their love of art with fellow creatives and enthusiasts. Writer and visual artist Janroe Cabiles takes the idea of nostalgia by wistfully combining her love of travel through dried flowers, keepsakes that she has collected over the years, and typewritten poetry in the piece entitled No. Another piece that has taken time to complete is Into The Unknown by artist Bea Policarpio. With a framed mirror and her signature impasto technique, self reflection is done both figuratively and literally as she makes waves out of paint and the result is an effervescent work of art. Visual artist 1111 takes on a more somber approach with her work Lick Thy Wound. It is an abstract piece that depicts an old scar by playing with the idea of light and darkness through a process she calls “harvesting shadows”. For the artist, the piece is a reminder that there is beauty in scars for they mean that we are able to rise through pain and tragedy.
Another consensus among the artists was that taking the time to pause and reflect on the things that matter have been instrumental in validating their self worth, thereby inspiring their artistic pursuits. Performance and visual artist Ian Inoy’s love for aquatic life shines through in his work entitled Together We Swam. His use of vibrant colors are not only reminiscent of how magical and wondrous nature can be, it puts the audience in good spirits. He further adds during the Q&A that taking the time to meditate on his journey as an artist has helped him appreciate the beauty of his work and how this allowed others to revel in it as well. Other artists who share the same sentiment are Mariel Garcia and Sunshine Teodoro through their visceral works Garden of Dreams and Self Isolation, respectively. In Garden of Dreams, Garcia depicts her subject’s feet planted firmly on the ground anchored by a flower in bloom. For the artist, this represents the importance of staying grounded, especially during these uncertain times. Teodoro’s Self Portrait draws from this sentiment as well, highlighting the importance of finding self love and awareness in times of crisis.
Shards of My Anxiety by Woman, Create
While it is important to maintain a positive outlook in life during this pandemic, it is equally vital to recognize that not all days will be pleasant. Jane Cuevas, the artist behind Hear Thy Roar, felt the brunt force of this new reality during her time in isolation. However, despite feeling a multitude of negative emotions during this pandemic, she has chosen to channel these feelings into something positive by using bright, cheerful colors in her work to inspire empathy and mindfulness from others. Woman, Create shares this sentiment through her piece Shards of My Anxiety. Making use of various objects like shards of glass and broken plates, the piece is a representation of the different ways people handle their time in isolation and how we should be more accepting of those differences.
Even the Small Fish Are Fish by Barredo-Del Mundo
In a world overflowing with anxiety and negativity, visual artist Isabel Barredo-Del Mundo’s work Even the Small Fish Are Fish is a breath of fresh air. Teeming with optimism that is both infectious as it is inspiring, her work depicts three women on an adventure as they look to the heavens for guidance. While in self-isolation, the artist chooses to keep living life to the fullest while also taking the time to slow down. Visual artist Summer De Guia shares the same sentiment but her pieceFake Solace takes on a darker tone. She muses that unlike her subject, an otherworldly woman who takes Death as a companion, we should take the time to examine the things that we value most and if they enrich our lives or not. In stark contrast, Jungle Jazz is a piece that marches to the beat of its own drum. This vibrant work in acrylic by Filipino visual artist Alfonso Recto encapsulates the very thing that inspired its creation – music. He takes on a more upbeat attitude towards life in lockdown, choosing to spend it doing what inspires him like music and spending time with loved ones. The same goes for visual artist Ireland Jill whose time with her family has inspired her work, aptly entitled Safe Space. Depicted using her signature doll-like subjects against a rosy backdrop, the vivid image conveys feelings of warmth and hope.
Waiting in Vain by Chino Carlo
Despite spending most of their time at home during quarantine, several of the artists have also chosen to channel their views on the various social movements taking place in the world outside through their art. A self-professed “child of the internet”, multidisciplinary artist Chino Carlo‘s frustration with the global state of affairs is evident in his work titled Waiting in Vain 1.While his work embodies the light and fluid characteristic watercolor and ink, it does little to ease the pensive mood of his subject. Provocative as it is empowering, the piece Selfie by self-taught visual artist Analee Angeles serves as social commentary on how forces of change, young women in particular, have taken the world by storm, during a global crisis no less. The piece entitled Centripetal is a celebration of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Artist Mara Fabella captures the triumph of people coming together, finding ways to support each other and remain engaged, despite the lack of physical interaction. Through the piece entitled Shining Bright Like a Diamond #strongerthanyesterday #brighterthandarkness #travel, multidisciplinary artist Ina Jardiolin depicts a surreal post-apocalyptic world whose only remaining inhabitants are social media loving tardigrades. Much like warning as it is satirical, it gives us a glimpse of a future where our harsh and toxic practices have finally taken its toll on the Earth. Lastly but certainly not the least, XOXO, a mixed media piece by visual artist Nasser Lubay, is a call for social renaissance, a poignant reminder that to be human is to love.
Like the artists featured in this exhibit, Hindsight is 20/20 asks us to reflect on our own faults, how they have affected the way we view ourselves and our surroundings. It recognizes that in order for us to influence outward change, we must first look to ourselves and practice mindfulness from within. It calls us to take a good hard look at our past in order to triumph in the future.
Photos from Arts Talk PH website.
Cover art by Mikhaela De Los Angeles