by May B. Jandayan

 

Since the rise of Surrealism in France during the 1920s, it has become a catchall for the bizarre, the irrational and the hallucinatory. Following its emergence after World War I; Surrealism was not formed as an escape from the horrors of post-war realities but as a revolutionary movement within itself.  It is aesthetic as well as political and literary as well as visual. It disentangled itself from the constraints of creating art within a singular style and medium. This movement has paved the way for various artists and enthusiasts all over the world. A whole new perspective of not only understanding the complexity of the creative mind, but also an influence of the modern age on human existence. We no longer see the world as it is but we view it from a variety of perspectives; where the mundane is juxtaposed with the complex.

Another noted art movement also arose from the ashes of the 2nd World War from across the continent. It was the 1950’s when everyone was at its post-war economic boom. American supermarket aisles were filled with consumer products. Outside the streets were adorned with rows of advertisements from various products; telling people what to buy and encouraging them to buy it. Hollywood was at its Golden Age and celebrities graced the covers of magazines, television and the silver screen; giving rise to celebrity culture. Out of this consumerist lifestyle culture, Pop Art was born. Its subjects were celebrities, consumer products and comics. Although critics were sceptical, the idea was embraced by Britain and Australia. In 1968 Pop Arts popularity waned down, buts its influential rebellious concept will only branch out to other forms of art in the succeeding years.

Such a branch arose in the underground scene of Los Angeles, California in the late 1970s many called it “Low Brow Art” but we know it as Pop Surrealism, a movement that took the revolutionary concept of Surrealism and rebellious conviction of Pop Art. It was a stand against the High Art scene shown in museum and galleries during its time. Pop Surrealism was heavily inspired by punk music, hot-rod, comics and tiki culture. There was not much support for Pop Surrealism in its earlier conception, but galleries began noticing its popularity when artists started adopting its concept of creating art. Broaden by the use of various media such as television, radio and movies Pop Surrealism spread out into the new century through the internet. Its form no longer restrained by the visage of paintings, toys and sculptures, but metamorphosized itself to include digital form.

This month as a part of Arte Bettina’s Unravelling Bettina campaign for 2019 we are once again treated to a banquette of visual delicacies as they present to us a group exhibit by talented surreal artists of our generation. The exhibit The Rise of Pop Surrealism from Underground to Mainstream is a reflection of the surrealist pop culture that has influenced artists all over the world.

Looking at “The Girl” we are spellbound by Bryan Yabut’s graphic interpretation of one of history’s enigmatic painting by Joannes Vermeer. The viewer is presented with a portrait of a young woman stripped of muscle and flesh, surrounded by beautiful lush flora as she gives her audience an eerie smile. Yabut’s visual representation sends a witty but, honest point to its viewer that beauty is indeed skin deep.

Moving on to Joselito Jandayan’s “Lust and Play” which a part of his creature series from the concept which he adopted the title Garden of Earthly Delights is a surrealistic comical representation of the various iniquities of the human ethos as featureless creatures with distinct physical qualities, a symbolic assimilation of man’s dark merits hidden by different masks concealing the monster within.

Frantz Salvador’s painting collages titled “Hero Unmade” is the artist perspective of the superhero mania that is currently sweeping the whole world. Inquiring its spectators “If the hero is too busy saving the world, then who saves the hero?”

Raymond Guevarra’s “Recollection” is a assemblage of nostalgic objects, composed on a geometric humanoid form which appeals to the observer to recall their inner childhood and evokes a sensitivity of innocence and wonder.

Other noted artworks featured are Joji Limayo’s “Lucky Me” in which the destruction of nature left creatures of the deep clamouring for garbage to sustain their existence.

Norlie Meimban’s kaleidoscopic portrait of the father of Pop Art, Andy Warhol.

Irish Alvarado Galon’s “What Wrong Naima?” wherein a lone faceless child is surrounded blank frames clings to her toy as a means of comfort in her world of solitude.

Also included in this gathering of brilliant artists are Ejem Alarcon, Marcel Antonio, Kendall Colindon, Charmaine Cristobal, Iara Celeste Diaz, Paula Feliciano, Caloy Gernale, Raymond Kawataki Go, Clark Manalo, Alrashdi Mohammad, Jessie Mondares, Mr. S, Dennis Puzon, Armar Ramirez, Carlo Talion and Christian Tamondong.

 

References

Surrealism, PBS Digital Studios, TheArtAssignment.com

A Guide to Pop Art, Art Gallery of NSW

Low Brow, Wikipedia

What is the Lowbrow Art Movement? When Surrealism Took Over Pop, www.widewalls.ch