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Stirring the Ashes by Leslie de Chavez

stirring-the-ashes

Ongoing until Sept. 17, Ateneo Art Gallery, Ateneo de Manila University, Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City; for more information, contact Tricia Raya at (02) 426-6488, email aag@ateneo.edu or visit www.ateneoartgallery.org

Through his paintings and installations, Leslie de Chavez reflects on the power structures of the past and present, giving visual form to the complex political issues plaguing the country today. He does not preach or seek straightforward answers. His works operate on several levels, allowing viewers to approach them from different perspectives. He gives the audience something recognizable as an entry point, then leaves the interpretation up to each person.

His choice of materials is deliberate and part of the meaning-making. The giant head of Rizal is blackened not by paint but by painstakingly rubbing it with graphite. A pair of legs lying on the floor, recognizable to any Catholic as the limbs of the Messiah on the cross, is made of soap. A stencil of the historic 1734 Murillo-Velarde Map lies on a patchwork of GI sheets. The titles such as Craft – Mine – Crap, Anggulo, and Subjugating the Nuclear are cryptic, giving clues into the thinking behind the works but not providing answers. Each piece requires attention, reflection and analysis.

De Chavez stirs the ashes of history in the hopes that by exposing the embers of memory, he is able to reignite something in us, perhaps compassion for our countrymen, concern over the nation’s state of affairs, something other than the indifference that has engulfed us.

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