April 22, 2018, 8:17 pm
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1 Philippine Peso = 1 Philippine Peso
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‘Paths of Light’

‘MULTI-FACETED’, timeless, and ‘other worldly’ are some apt descriptions for J Consunji’s forthcoming second solo exhibition of abstract artworks, “Paths of Light.” The series of 11 contemporary paintings to be exhibited from January 10 to 20 at the Galerie Joaquin Podium harken to portraiture, depicting images of heads and figures, but set against ambiguous spaces or landscapes, visually and physically staggered into lateral panels. J uses the reconfiguration of visual and plastic composition to explore ideas of being, multiple dimensions, and man’s personal yet fleeting connections with nature.

The contemporary artist Herbert Consunji Jr. has been called an artist with a philosopher’s mind. After his abrupt introduction to art as a 13-year-old in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, J consumed the historical progression of art - synchronic and rhizomatic as it is - with scholastic gusto; from Renaissance icons, East Asian ink paintings, and European cubists to Russian abstractionists and American neo-expressionists. After completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Science with a major in Industrial Design at the De La Salle University, J studied Visual Arts at the Australian National University, where he was awarded a Westende Travelling Scholarship to the Écolenationalesupérieure des beaux-arts Paris. Since graduating, he has had five group exhibitions at the Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences, Now Gallery + Auctions, and Gallerie Anna; and a solo exhibit in 2016 entitled “Tropica” at the Altro Mondo Gallery. Today, his figurative style could be traced to influences of Peter Doig and Francis Bacon, but with an entirely different conceptual bent.

In “Paths of Light,” J manipulates pictorial composition and plastic properties to explore ideas on the mystery of creation and being, multiple realities, the designed and the uncontrolled, dream-like states, and our inherent personal and fleeting engagement with the forces of nature. Faces, figures, landscapes, abstractions, colors, shapes, and rhythmic gradients are taken together and made to fold and unfold, overlap, reflect, and magnify worlds perceived inside and outside of the self. The synthesis of botanical, geometric, and biological features articulates the link between living beings with natural and built environments, and between the tangible and intangible.

J compresses these ideas into 11 acrylic on canvas paintings, translating the complexity of his thoughts with remarkable depth and aesthetic. Each pictorial composition is divided into separate picture plane panels in order to introduce different perspectives in viewing the portrait. As if one were seeing into windows opened into various internal and external dimensions, the reconfiguration of each artwork into 5 to 10 individual canvas panels allows other tangential and poetic interpretations to resonate throughout the pieces. However, not only is the whole divided into parts, the smaller canvases also comprise the whole that, taken together, becomes entirely different from the sum of its parts. The idea of units that constitute a whole is analogous to music, in which time is measured and inherently imparts momentum. In these paintings, the pictorial space of each unit is an independent construct that defines its own values of time and space in context to the adjoining units as well as the whole. The divisions of each painting impart the composition with narrative momentum and inertia. The way the paintings are shaped also define the concrete and perceptual scope of pictorial space; this symmetrical profile is either highlighted or contrasted, suggesting the existence of space and movement that continues outside the individual defined units, even beyond the physical support itself.

J also uses light and form to great effect as expressions of intensified emotional states. His manipulation of highlights and shadows, values and contrasts transform prosaic pictorial elements into subjective response. An aesthetic principle critical to the exhibition, the faces and heads of the figures reflect a perceived landscape explored both inward, as well as outward by the artist. Foreground, background, and other typical indicators of scenic space are decontextualized and reconfigured into abstracted forms. Elements of the natural landscape combine with geometric shapes that identify, define, and reveal facial features; an altered state that is amplified by the sensation of immersion in light.

Despite the conceptual complexity that J layers into his artworks, they are as visually arresting as they are intellectually enriching. J seeks to explore the invisible ties that bind our perceptual worlds together, one of which is the interrelationship of visceral appreciation and aesthetic enlightenment. The subtle nuance in “Paths of Light,” suggestive of its imagery’s multi-faceted meanings is enough to evoke multi-dimensions of interpretation that disappear as quickly as they spark. J Consunji’s second solo exhibit is insightful and exciting, a heady refraction and reconfiguration of one’s self and the multitude of the other.

 “Paths of Light,” J Consunji’s second solo exhibition will be on view until January 20 at Galerie Joaquin, located on the 3rd level of The New Podium Mall.
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