Visually arresting with a style that exploits the familiar, in playing with signs and language culled from popular printed matter and other quotidian expression, the works of Dina Gadia (b. 1986, Philippines) are imaginative subversions of cultural codes, featuring collaged realities and altered bodies that bespeak of gender issues and sexuality, taste and identity, of the official and the outsider, fine art and lowbrow culture, authorship and subjectivity, all done with a touch of whimsy and a sense of wonder for everything strange and absurd. Gadia’s approach to her practice involves a deft handling of cut-up elements disposed in unorthodox settings, which brings about the distortion and detournement of its content into areas of discomfiting subject matter, probing areas previously unrecognized yet perceptive of sociological and psychological matters that tread on the path of the political. Notably in most works, found text ambiguously loaded with significance are combined with appropriated images selected from pulp magazines of a certain milieu, resonating larger localized contexts and its people, which can yield unsettling relationships with regard to postcolonial attitudes, the view and treatment of women, and the contested boundaries of taste and class issues that unveil disparate economic realities. Most often these jarring juxtapositions are imbued with humor, surprisingly, like a Freudian slip that unleashes the unwanted in a witty but exact manner. Humor consequently in Gadia’s work becomes a reliable weapon in discharging cultural anxieties. Not only are visual puns generated through physical or formal incongruences in a comedic cycle of errors—by way of pictorial proportion, composition, gesture and expression, but also through a deadpan narration of the impossible yet true—all portrayed vividly in ironic manner. Gadia’s paintings remarkably capture the tone of the cryptic angsts and uncertainties of her subject matter, the lost and inchoate expressions of an oblivious community, applying a touch that is removed from sentimentality or self-righteous judgment. Doing so, the artist employs tropes of illustration and design to remove the proverbial weight of the author’s hand, a postmodern resolve that Gadia has mastered.
Gadia is represented by Silverlens Galleries in Manila and has exhibited extensively since 2005 both locally and internationally. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Major in Advertising and Design at Far Eastern University in 2006. Gadia was shortlisted for the Ateneo Art Awards in 2012 for her exhibition Regal Discomforts. Her work has been the subject of numerous publications, and her interest on the creative output and history of print design and illustration extends to her collaborative publishing project in Saturnino Basilla.
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