Reflections on Room Full of Mirrors – Art Sanchez

Reflections on Room Full of Mirrors

We, the spectators are an additional factor. Though greeted by that
gaze, we are also dismissed by it, replaced by that which was there
before we were: the model itself.

“Las Meninas”
The Order of Things by Michel Foucault

Using layered shifting narratives on one-way mirrors as thematic
device, it seems obvious and even compulsory for an architecture
graduate like Art Sanchez to explore the boundaries of this decorative
medium for his first solo exhibition at blanc.

One cannot wonder too long and not notice the extent of his intention
to instill biographical vignettes, critique on mass media and cultural
myths as seen with these recent works.  Meticulously transferring
random surreal-like images to collages taken from various printed
sources, etching further on an already established mirror cut out on
canvas which serves as base of familiar or familial representation.
Creating simultaneous contrast among the aesthetics of objects,
metaphors, irony with the given didactic nature of the superimposed
image, Sanchez displaces everything out of place.  At this point, with
the viewer’s obvious reflection on the mirrors, Sanchez extends an
invitation to his audience to exist with interchanging personas and
value laden symbols inherent in the works.  His thoughts could be our
thoughts.  This is the essence of what makes up Afterthoughts.

In Floating Mood Swings, the reverse mirror cut out of a
Rodin-inspired The Thinker presents a dark background of what remains
inside man’s emotion as he struggles for memory and pursues his own
volition as a human being.  They say beauty is the sum of its faults
however, the objectives in making mental pictures based on available
references will imply degrees of meaning on varied presentations.

This multi-sharing of similar but varied points of view to someone
from behind is commonly known as the Venus effect (from the earliest
painting of Venus looking at her reflection while angels hold a mirror
and while others keep looking at her).  The audience is more involved
in this context as one whose very reflection is captured in this
creative study of imaginative perception.  As one observes beauty in a
narcissist kind of way, one reflects and learns more of his
experience.

Indeed, objects in the mirrors appear closer than they really are.  As
mirror gathers light rays around the curved surface and reflect them
at varying angles, signs are said to be more compressed and provide
for an illusion of space as it amplifies the apparent size of any
room.  This is perceived in the emphatic piece Tests Subjects, which
features an illustration of how light is captured by the camera by the
man who pioneered photography.  Sanchez does with Walter Johnson in
art what Johnson contributed to science.

Saturation Point is a running commentary of the critical nature of
media particularly television.  The reverberation of all things good
and bad as glaringly represented by floating people with thought
bubbles shaped like mushroom clouds jutting out in explosion or
emptiness of the idea as presented on the tube.  Here, Sanchez becomes
a cynic or a romantic, depending on which side you are on.  His
depiction of this most used appliance rises to being an innovative
critique to the point of being graphically screaming.  Proving he is
not totally against the idiot box, his main concern remains on how
people have become too complacent as not to be scared with 99
channel-overload of information.  After all, as consumer culture
fetishes the dumb, refined, and modern individuals, television levels
the playing field depending on your need.

Sanchez remembers the only mirror in the house he grew up in, with
photos highlighting significant events and fun times as a family
inserted on the side like a makeshift do-it-yourself photo album.  As
the mirror eventually fades with the passing of time, the
irreplaceable photos are tucked in.  Taking on this experience,
Sanchez believes one grows every time we face the mirror.  Viewing his
works, metaphorically speaking, one gets the idea that art is itself a
mirror – a reflection of society with all its customs, beliefs,
folklores, superstitions, religions, and more importantly, of the
artist himself.

Coming from a family of tinsmiths, mirror reflections are nothing new
to Sanchez.  He invites the viewer to come closer and become a part of
his pieces. In Between Raindrops and Sun Showers series, the struggle
of memory against forgetting, Sanchez wants to relive the myths and
his play with the “demons” of his childhood.  Such as when it rains
while the sun is out, there’s a tikbalang getting married.  As varied
and multi-faceted as this mirror, the artist has found a comfortable
material to transform surreal phenomena in various dark metaphors with
layers of paint into haunting collages.

Lured by its beauty or in our quest for self-knowledge, we look at
mirrors more often than we expect.  Before it became known as mirrors,
it was referred to as “looking glass.” Event Horizon is about how we
look and are being looked at by mirrors in the context of a gallery
setting.  As we are greeted by gaze after gaze, coming from the
different reflections from the pieces in the exhibit, as viewers, we
all become part of every artwork – the mirror on canvas, the subjects,
the objects, the paintings and the viewers are placed in infinite
reversing roles.  The entire cast is molded together in pure
dysfunction; anachronism is now in full effect.  The installation of
blind spots absorbs the viewers with a closer look.  As a caution, one
need not get lost in them.  Are people imbibed and further tricked by
this nature of being seen by mirrors?  As the gallery is converted
into a room full of mirrors, a mirage is in place.  We are now inside
an illusion, where our own memories dictate our current state.

Like anything reflected on mirrors, Afterthoughts projects specific
images but invokes different sensations for each viewer.  A mirror has
two faces, but it may not always be the same face looking back at you.

Jay Bautista

Art Sanchez’s Afterthoughts on Monday, July 6, 2009 at blanc Makati.
blanc is located at Crown Tower, 107 H.V. dela Costa St., Salcedo
Village, Makati City.  For more information, please call or sms
752-0032 / 0920-9276436, email info@blanc.ph or visit www.blanc.ph,
www.blancartspace.multiply.com

Afterthoughts will run until July 24, 2009.

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