Frances Abrigo

Frances Abrigo is one of the artists that travel across the city expressing themselves through graffiti with a stencil and spray-paint in hand. In his first solo exhibition, a fresh set of works are situated within a site that is entirely different from any typical street in Metro Manila namely an art exhibition space. Out in the streets, images from stencils are usually repeated in every corner as many times the artist possibly could under given circumstances. The way they convey messages are usually short and straightforward even if sometimes they are not fully understood by an ordinary passerby. In crowded busy streets these images could sometimes only guarantee itself a passing glance. So how are we going to look at these stencil paintings if it is situated in a place where images are given a kind of privilege to demand from its viewers to look at them in a solemn, meditative manner? So to speak, these portraits have more time to look at us looking at them. What stares back at us are two different sets of people: one are indigenous senior citizens from the Mountain Province and children whose faces are deformed due to some medical condition on the other. Young aberrant faces with their future looking dim under the pressures of the norm, not to mention the high mortality they bring about, and old people whose features have been worn down by the passing of time and toughened by experience. They are referenced from the internet without having any real connection to the context from where they came from. What could probably be seen here then are projections upon these individuals of what the artist sees as the image that aptly represent two different points in (his) life; people who just arrived although in a bad state and the ones who are about to leave. The superimposition of one elaborate, amorphous shape on top of another that create facial features, details and values also resemble a hidden contour map of a terrain, which emphasizes the idea of moving from one state to the other. Cutting these intricate forms on stencil is in one way or the other a form of meditative process that is mostly repetitive and time-consuming. More than being just faces, they are like a rough abstract guide that helps someone make sense of these points in life. A spectator is somehow caught between the transitions from being a young social outsider to a wise old man. What could be seen here are attempts to conceive for oneself a sort of path upon which the shift takes place and eventually, hopefully in the end be able to reach it. The stencil paintings within this space then is a sort of subtle personal reflections on being young and a little different from the others while still having a belief that there is some sort of destination or purpose in life which will be revealed to oneself by the things a person believes in.