“She Kept It Bleeding ‘Til the Second Round”
by Yonina Chan
Caught in the fragile, fateful moment between holding on and letting go, Janet Balbarona’s first solo show attempts to piece together the remains of memory and emotion, each painfully carted from past experiences and gingerly assembled into surreal visual narratives that flesh out the experiences of anger, sadness, loss, and disappointment.
As with Balbarona’s previous works, the pieces in “She Kept It Bleeding ‘Til the Second Round” are unapologetically autobiographical. Largely expressionistic compositions depict actual events in hyperrealistic snatches, and inevitably reveal the complex workings of the artist’s inner world. People are portrayed with a sentimental detailing of faces and clothes, which suggests the artist’s attempt to process and preserve her relationship experiences through her idiosyncratic fixation on fashion. Conversely, other perceivably less important elements—hands, feet, bodies, furniture, backdrops—are left to fade away into open space.
In alluding to the underlying story behind each piece, various subjects—many strange, mundane, or just seemingly out of place—weave dreamlike into each other, implying a connection between them: a flood of Valiums, a cigarette studded deer, old typewriters, bamboo shoots and leaves (notably done in traditional Chinese painting style), baboons, and bandana-wrapped skulls, to name a few. While obviously alluding to very personal symbolism, there is nevertheless a playful sense of accessibility to each painting which encourages the viewer to surrender to their own fantasy and the impossible logic that the compositions afford.
While Balbarona previously held onto painful emotions or “kept it bleeding” as a kind of motivation for her art, she now considers her work moving towards closure and catharsis. In fleshing out her demons on the canvas, she captures a delicate and ultimately precious illuminating pause which underscores the images of confusion, indifference, tiredness, and pain, thus offering a sense of hope and possibility in a very subtle yet powerful way.
“She Kept It Bleeding ‘Til the Second Round,” opens on Monday, March 23, 6PM at Blanc Gallery, Makati. Blanc Gallery is located at 2E Crown Tower, 107 H.V. Dela Costa St., Salcedo Village, Makati. For more information, please visit www.blanc.ph or www.blancartspace.multiply.com, or contact 752-0032, 0920-9276436 or firstname.lastname@example.org.