These four solo exhibitions at West Gallery stand as an exemplar of Philippine contemporary artistry
In these solo exhibitions at West Gallery, artists (and friends) Bjorn Calleja, Jigger Cruz, Kaloy Sanchez, and Pablo Bermudez mount solo exhibitions that encapsulate each artist’s distinct style while presenting diverse artistic landscapes and practices.
Since opening last November 23, 2023, the exhibitions have made a striking impact—from the newest kaleidoscope of multi-colored pieces by Calleja, to the fresh political statements of Bermudez. The gallery rooms are balanced by the imposing monochrome portraits of Kaloy Sanchez, as well as the fastidious pen and ink works of Jigger Cruz.
369, Bjorn Calleja
In recent years, there is something about the art of Bjorn Calleja that has captivated collectors’ attention. Beyond the striking neon colors, the glob-like figures speak to a sensibility in every person. Calleja is known for his portraits of forms with body parts in all the wrong places—upside-down noses, outstretched eyeballs, and misplaced ears.
Often, his miniature humanoid figures are scattered across the painting. Taking from the practice of graffiti with aerosol and undulating lines, his works seem to resonate not just because of a sense of familiarity, but a feeling of transcending onto another plane.
Strip, Jigger Cruz
Jigger Cruz is a contemporary artist that you can say is almost revered for his body of work. Known for his defiant impasto on both frames and canvases, all in fascinating color choices, his technique has had a significant influence on emerging artists across the country.
In this latest work at West Gallery, Cruz opts for meticulous pen and ink drawings, now monochrome. The drawn layers seem to resemble his compositions in paint, now exploring micro-dimensions on paper.
Mga anyo ng gabi [The shapes of midnight], Kaloy Sanchez
Kaloy Sanchez is known for his arresting portraits of bodies that tell a story. This role as a visual story becomes clear in this latest show.
He reimagines the shape-shifting creatures in Aswang as modern-day drag queens. In the depiction of Bangungot (Nightmare or Bad Dream), the artist poses reflections on body neutrality
Through reflections on Philippine folklore and history, Sanchez uses portraitures to “mirror our view on certain members of the society and to embody the psyche that casts them in stereotypes” (exhibition notes).
Nothing New Under the Sun, Pablo Bermudez
After many years living in Italy, Colombian artist Pablo Bermudez has started making waves in the Philippine landscape, since moving here in recent years. The artist’s practice of creating “Sottovuoto” began in 2013, after placing glossy magazine pages into a vacuum, a method he continues to use for many of his works today. These pages of beautiful models are then crumpled, torn, then transformed by the artist with a scalpel into a sculptural piece, creating a statement on the temporary essence of beauty.
In this latest exhibition, Bermudez creates thought-provoking work by using magazine covers of world news in Times Magazine and politician’s faces in Newsweek. Besides making statements on the ethics of politics, he also incorporates local vintage magazines from the Philippines, in a fascinating twist on his practice.