Wawi Navarroza: Self-Portraits & The Tropical Gothic

Wawi Navarroza
Silverlens, Manila

Installation Views

About

    Coming from a string of moving places and foreign travels after the fire which destroyed her Taguig studio, Navarroza re-established herself in Manila at the end of 2018, signaling her return to studio practice, providing the venue for the elaborate mise-en-scènes we see in this new exhibition. The artist looks back and forward, coming full circle to a genre that has defined her early art-making and has punctuated an arc of more than a decade: Self-Portraits.

    Navarroza employs formal composition in tableau vivant large format which is staged for the camera. At the same time, she subverts photography in a way that the final image is rendered almost as a flat collage, deliberately controlled by lighting techniques and careful arrangements in the scenography. Furthermore, the artist disrupts the continuity of seamless photographic image by quick imprecise digital cuts-and-pastes on selected areas of the image, reminding viewers that ultimately, we are looking at a constructed image. At turns autobiographical and/or interpretative, the artist both as creator and figure, present allegories replete with materials and symbols, all generous for further significations and imaginings to mirror the contemporary.

    The artist is peripatetic and identity is plural. This time (2019) that I find myself having a studio again, I get the privilege to focus on what is immediate around me and reflect on the integral parts of myself (a confusing amalgam of referents as Filipino, as female, as Asian, as worldly trans-national sponge)—by finding myself at home in the Philippines’ particular pastiche summarized as the “Tropical Gothic” (coined by national artist for literature Nick Joaquin): a syncretic mix of East and West, catholic and pagan/folk/mystic, laced with a Spanish colonial baroque hangover, ornamentation, contemporary clutter, sari-sari, horror vacui, the esoteric and the vernacular, the mashups, DIY, telenovelas, pageants, boxing, elections, gridlock traffic, hot humid eternal summer, raging monsoons, natural disasters, palm trees and concrete, nature and artifice, a marvelous mess of the living. Within this framework, all the incongruities make sense and it becomes a wild pleasure to confront the heavy and tender complexities of Self and Surrounding.”

    Wawi Navarroza (b. 1979, Manila, Philippines) is a multi-disciplinary Filipino contemporary artist known for her works in photography, actively exhibiting in galleries and museums both in the Philippines and internationally. Her approach to photography is malleable, with a focus on exploring Self and Surrounding as seen in her works in contemporary landscape, constructed tableaus and self-portraits. Informed by crises and natural disasters, her works transmute personal experience to the symbolic, probing locations and constant movement, finding the Self with and in the surroundings which then are abstracted in the artist’s studio; all these perhaps to mirror a path to understanding a deeper sense of place and identity.

    She studied photography in De La Salle University, Manila, mentored by conceptual artist Judy Freya Sibayan. She attended continuing education at the International Center of Photography, New York City with a Fellowship grant award from the Asian Cultural Council and finished her Masters with a scholarship award from Instituto Europeo di Design in Madrid. She has received numerous awards and is a recipient of the CCP Thirteen Artists Award, Ateneo Art Awards, and finalist at Lumi Photography Award Helsinki and Sovereign Asian Art Prize, to name a few.

    Her art has been surveyed in major publications such as Photography Today (Phaidon) and Contemporary Photography in Asia (Prestel). She has published two of her books DOMINION and Hunt & Gather, Terraria and continues to advocate for the printed format through her founding of THOUSANDFOLD in 2015, an artist-run platform dedicated to the production and promotion of Philippine contemporary photography and photobooks in Manila, Philippines.

    In the past few years, she has based herself back and forth Madrid and Manila. Currently, Wawi Navarroza is working and living in Manila, Philippines.

Coming from a string of moving places and foreign travels after the fire which destroyed her Taguig studio, Navarroza re-established herself in Manila at the end of 2018, signaling her return to studio practice, providing the venue for the elaborate mise-en-scènes we see in this new exhibition. The artist looks back and forward, coming full circle to a genre that has defined her early art-making and has punctuated an arc of more than a decade: Self-Portraits.

Navarroza employs formal composition in tableau vivant large format which is staged for the camera. At the same time, she subverts photography in a way that the final image is rendered almost as a flat collage, deliberately controlled by lighting techniques and careful arrangements in the scenography. Furthermore, the artist disrupts the continuity of seamless photographic image by quick imprecise digital cuts-and-pastes on selected areas of the image, reminding viewers that ultimately, we are looking at a constructed image. At turns autobiographical and/or interpretative, the artist both as creator and figure, present allegories replete with materials and symbols, all generous for further significations and imaginings to mirror the contemporary.

The artist is peripatetic and identity is plural. This time (2019) that I find myself having a studio again, I get the privilege to focus on what is immediate around me and reflect on the integral parts of myself (a confusing amalgam of referents as Filipino, as female, as Asian, as worldly trans-national sponge)—by finding myself at home in the Philippines’ particular pastiche summarized as the “Tropical Gothic” (coined by national artist for literature Nick Joaquin): a syncretic mix of East and West, catholic and pagan/folk/mystic, laced with a Spanish colonial baroque hangover, ornamentation, contemporary clutter, sari-sari, horror vacui, the esoteric and the vernacular, the mashups, DIY, telenovelas, pageants, boxing, elections, gridlock traffic, hot humid eternal summer, raging monsoons, natural disasters, palm trees and concrete, nature and artifice, a marvelous mess of the living. Within this framework, all the incongruities make sense and it becomes a wild pleasure to confront the heavy and tender complexities of Self and Surrounding.”

Wawi Navarroza (b. 1979, Manila, Philippines) is a multi-disciplinary Filipino contemporary artist known for her works in photography, actively exhibiting in galleries and museums both in the Philippines and internationally. Her approach to photography is malleable, with a focus on exploring Self and Surrounding as seen in her works in contemporary landscape, constructed tableaus and self-portraits. Informed by crises and natural disasters, her works transmute personal experience to the symbolic, probing locations and constant movement, finding the Self with and in the surroundings which then are abstracted in the artist’s studio; all these perhaps to mirror a path to understanding a deeper sense of place and identity.

She studied photography in De La Salle University, Manila, mentored by conceptual artist Judy Freya Sibayan. She attended continuing education at the International Center of Photography, New York City with a Fellowship grant award from the Asian Cultural Council and finished her Masters with a scholarship award from Instituto Europeo di Design in Madrid. She has received numerous awards and is a recipient of the CCP Thirteen Artists Award, Ateneo Art Awards, and finalist at Lumi Photography Award Helsinki and Sovereign Asian Art Prize, to name a few.

Her art has been surveyed in major publications such as Photography Today (Phaidon) and Contemporary Photography in Asia (Prestel). She has published two of her books DOMINION and Hunt & Gather, Terraria and continues to advocate for the printed format through her founding of THOUSANDFOLD in 2015, an artist-run platform dedicated to the production and promotion of Philippine contemporary photography and photobooks in Manila, Philippines.

In the past few years, she has based herself back and forth Madrid and Manila. Currently, Wawi Navarroza is working and living in Manila, Philippines.

Works

Wawi Navarroza
The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter/The Self-Portraitist (After Alcuáz, Self-Portrait)
2019
2318
2
archival pigment print on Hahnemühle, cold-mounted on acid-free aluminum, with artistʼs exhibition frame i.e. wrapped fabric on double wood frame custom-tinted to WN skin tone
40h x 53.30w in • 101.60h x 135.38w cm
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Edition of 5
Details
Wawi Navarroza
The Heap/Viva La Vida (Portrait of A Female Artist at 40, Self-Portrait)
2019
2319
2
archival pigment print on Hahnemühle, cold-mounted on acid-free aluminum, with artistʼs exhibition frame i.e. wrapped fabric on double wood frame custom-tinted to WN skin tone
40h x 53.30w in • 101.60h x 135.38w cm
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Edition of 5
Details
Wawi Navarroza
La Bruja (All the Places She's Gone, Self-Portrait)
2019
2320
2
archival pigment print on Hahnemühle, cold-mounted on acid-free aluminum, with artistʼs exhibition frame i.e. wrapped fabric on double wood frame custom-tinted to WN skin tone
40h x 52.50w in • 101.60h x 133.35w cm
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Edition of 5
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Wawi Navarroza
Remember Who You Are (Strange Fruit/The Other Asian, Self-Portrait with Pineapple)
2019
2321
2
archival pigment print on Hahnemühle, cold-mounted on acid-free aluminum, with artistʼs exhibition frame i.e. wrapped fabric on wood, colored frame
45h x 34w in • 114.30h x 86.36w cm
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Edition of 5
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Wawi Navarroza
The Fire Youʼre Made Of (Ignis Mirabilis, Self-Portrait After the Fire)
2019
2322
2
archival pigment print on Hahnemühle, cold-mounted on acid-free aluminum, with artistʼs exhibition frame i.e. double wood frame custom-tinted to WN skin tone
53.30h x 40w in • 135.38h x 101.60w cm
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0.00
PHP
0
Edition of 5
Details
Wawi Navarroza
May in Manila/Hot Summer (After Balthus, Self-Portrait)
2019
2323
2
archival pigment print on Hahnemühle, cold-mounted on acid-free aluminum, with artistʼs exhibition frame i.e. wrapped fabric on double wood frame custom-tinted to WN skin tone
53.30h x 40w in • 135.38h x 101.60w cm
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0.00
PHP
0
Edition of 5
Details
Wawi Navarroza
Start Here, A Lesson on Looking (Self-Portrait with Mandarins)
2019
2325
2
archival pigment print on Hahnemühle, cold-mounted on acid-free aluminum, with artistʼs exhibition frame i.e. wrapped fabric on wood, colored frame
45h x 30w in • 114.30h x 76.20w cm
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Edition of 6
Details
"I Want To Live A Thousand More Years” (Self-Portrait After Dengue, with tropical plants and fake flowers)
2016
2326
2
archival pigment print on Hahnemühle, cold-mounted on acid-free aluminum, with artistʼs exhibition frame i.e. double wood frame custom-tinted to WN skin
50h x 40w in • 127h x 101.60w cm
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Edition of 5
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Wawi Navarroza
The Dotted Self/Every Thought A Constellation (Psoriatic Self-Portrait)
2019
2327
2
archival pigment print on Hahnemühle, cold-mounted on aluminum, with artist's exhibition frame i.e. wood frame custom-tinted to WN skin tone
45h x 34w in • 114.30h x 86.36w cm
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0.00
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Edition of 5
Details
Wawi Navarroza
Self-Portrait for My Grandfather, the Photographer (after Frida Kahlo's Portrait of My Father / Retrato de Mi Padre, 1951)
2007
2328
2
Lambda C-print, cold-mounted on acid-free aluminum, with artistʼs exhibition frame i.e. double wood frame custom-tinted to WN skin tone
24h x 18w in • 60.96h x 45.72w cm
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Edition of 10
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Wawi Navarroza
Self Portrait with Bricks (Autorretratro con ladrillos)
2012
2329
2
archival pigment print on Hahnemühle, cold-mounted on acid-free aluminum, with artistʼs exhibition frame i.e. wood frame custom-tinted to WN skin tone
41.34h x 27.56w in • 105h x 70w cm
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Edition of 5
Details

Videos

Artist Page

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