Veteran advertising art director Gil Corcuera has reinvented himself as one of the country’s most interesting sculptors. This in itself is already welcome news in a country where the three-dimensional medium has always remained in the shadow of the better appreciated medium of painting.
To be sure, we are not referring to the commissioned sculptures of heroes in our town plaza, but to sculptures whose self-contained, significant forms demand the viewers’ attention.
Now on view at the Artist’s Space of the Ayala Museum are the recent sculptural works of Corcuera, comprising his fourth solo exhibition. Billed as “AngstLess,” the title alludes to the art world’s current obsession with dark, existential themes. In their stead Corcuera celebrates the virtues of wit and whimsy, mirth and merriment, frolic and fun. Despite these lighthearted attitudes, however, Corcuera’s works are far from being merely diversion, being imbued with formalist concerns: volume and space, balance and tension, weight and buoyancy, motion and stasis.
Closed and compact metal sheets are welded together in constructivist fashion. Like a three-dimensional collage, these tabletop sculptures reflect the sculptor’s wedding of abstraction and figuration. Separately, the sheets are mere geometric and curvilinear shapes, evoking the purity or spontaneity of its conception, but welded together triumphantly, the work becomes all-of-a-piece, with not a metal sheet superfluous to the entire, final construct.
Coscuera ascribes a specific title to each work, each as cheery as the subject that emerges from these enjoined sheets. “Chapaca” is a six-petal swirl of monochromatically painted sheets with a charm that is germane to a floral subject.
In contrast, avian themes are explored in “Lawin” and “Pinoy Rooster” where the undulations of surface become vital to the swagger of the work’s bravura display of confidence. Sleek and smooth, they are defined by the internal cohesiveness of their parts.
In the works “Dance of the Swords” and “Lionfish,” kinetic energy is the active principle. They are constructed as a two-part ensemble, one serving as base-fulcrum and the other a movable body-form. Not surprisingly, Corcuera admits to a deep admiration for the works of the American sculptor Alexander Calder who popularized the concept of mobiles. Since Calder, motion has become a significant element in modern sculpture.
A classic subject matter in painting, the Mother-and-Child theme is distilled in Corcuera’s “Lullaby” and “Mother.” Like a silhouetted form, the sculptures are sinuous and flowing in direction as though swayed by the wind, and imaginable only from a frontal vantage position.
“AngstLess” features some of Corcuera’s digital paintings whose clean, uncluttered shapes possess the same sculptural impulse but flattened as the medium demands. They intimate the biomorphic shapes of Joan Miro, the Spanish Catalan artist who was a great influence on Calder.
Filipino sculptor Corcuera responds to his influences by conveying the same cheer and pleasure which his sculptures allow the viewers to savor.