Felix Amoncio: Artist as shamanBy Gary C. Devilles
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Our workaday world is indifferent to us, and instead of becoming aware of this baffling experience, we cower, accept our fate, or assume a blasé attitude.
However, one should also see that it is in this day-to-day struggle that we make sense of our world, how we cope with our oppressive condition, and how we reckon with what lies ahead.
This is exactly how artist Felix Amoncio depicts our world. His subject—often the most hackneyed—manages to bring us into the heart of our unsettling experience.
Amoncio chooses ordinary folk as his subject—the teacher, the sampaguita vendor, the waiter, the magician, the kid playing paper plane, even the seamstress.
In his latest exhibit, “Lakbay ng Buhay,” running at the Art Center of Megamall, Amoncio is the real magician.
In our precolonial culture, the magician was integrated in the very fabric of society. The shaman could summon forces of nature, heal the sick, record history and serve as guide.
If we recognize this as magic, it is because the shaman saw himself within the mysterious workings of nature; he played a part in the unfolding of the grand narrative happening above, below and within.
As shaman, Amoncio is also telling us that the world today is not remote from that of our ancestors. The works remind us that our ancestors survived their tribulations and bore witness to the resilience of the human spirit.
This is perhaps why it is important to look again at the innocence of a child playing with paper plane and to realize how creativity and imagination could chart worlds of freedom and independence.
Ultimately Amoncio is not a lone shaman but also teacher. In this collection, he teaches us that aesthetics is also a way of constituting ourselves, of how we can use our alienating circumstances to cultivate a way of life that can never be co-opted or taken away from us.
Perhaps Amoncio is also gesturing to that scene in his work where women actually bargain for a yard or two of a cloth. The scene reminds us of the kind of negotiation we do every day and how this can be a strategy as well to avoid becoming nihilistic or fatalistic.
It is interesting that in this collection, Amoncio has also tackled homosexuality in the work titled “Binibining Ginoo.”
Without being pedantic, perhaps we could say the modern world is best viewed from an angle that embraces both aspects of our personality, the feminine and the masculine; or from the perspective of gays who have prevailed despite marginalization.
Indeed, Amoncio’s works are replete with folk wisdom and we have caught only a glimpse of the insights he offers.
Surprisingly, he does this best without resorting to sleight of hand.
For more details, call BMG Art Gallery at tel. 7065641.