In this episode of Artists Talk, Jed Gregorio speaks to Wawi Navarroza about the exhibition, Self-Portraits and the Tropical Gothic, shown at Silverlens Galleries.
Watch the video below.
Wawi Navarroza on landscapes and self-portraiture: “When my mentor saw my landscapes of volcanoes and marble, she told me, ‘These are all self-portraits, just without you in them.’ She really saw through it, and I agree with that. In fact there is this line from a Deleuze and Guattari text that a landscape is nothing but a face of a beloved. It’s like coming back to where I began, so there’s a full circle element to this exhibition being a self-portrait-focused exhibition.”
On photography as a social versus solitary practice: “It’s a process that I go through each time, like an inhalation and exhalation. I came back to my studio practice just late last year. After the fire I had no studio for almost two, three years. When I finally had the studio, it was such a big privilege that I could do this again in my own time and my own space. To engage with the world happens at a daily scale. There’s a part of me that likes to observe things, in the streets; I look at the houses, the architecture, the colors. I bring all of these in the studio, alone, and try to write a song about it in the form of photographs. I’m alone but everybody and everywhere is there in that moment.”
On the artist’s introspection: “A lot of being an artist is to reflect. In the end, art is long, life is short. There is a person that lives through it all. In my art and self-portraits, I would think that maybe these are ways of reaffirming a life lived. It’s so big to say this, but there is something noble in the self that wants to be preserved. As an artist the only way we can be authentic is to reflect from ourselves—external experiences that happen, the politics happening around us, the society, the times that have changed, the world views that have changed, and all of these get filtered through the person.”
Read more about Self-Portraits and the Tropical Gothic below.
“Self-portraits have been a recurring theme in a twenty-year practice, but this is the first exhibition focusing solely on the form. Navarroza will be showing eight new pieces alongside three older works from different years, alternating between muse and visual memoir.
“Coming from a string of moving places and foreign travels after the fire which destroyed her Taguig studio, Navarroza re-established herself in Manila at the end of 2018, signaling her return to studio practice, providing the venue for the elaborate mise-en-scènes we see in this new exhibition.
“The artist looks back and forward, coming full circle to a genre that has defined her early art-making and has punctuated an arc of more than a decade: Self-Portraits.
“Navarroza employs formal composition in tableau vivant large format which is staged for the camera. At the same time, she subverts photography in a way that the final image is rendered almost as a flat collage, deliberately controlled by lighting techniques and careful arrangements in the scenography.“Furthermore, the artist disrupts the continuity of seamless photographic image by quick imprecise digital cuts-and-pastes on selected areas of the image, reminding viewers that ultimately, we are looking at a constructed image.
“At turns autobiographical and/or interpretative, the artist both as creator and figure, present allegories replete with materials and symbols, all generous for further significations and imaginings to mirror the contemporary.” —Silverlens Galleries