A Lonely Picket in the Balcony

Leslie de Chavez
Silverlens, Manila

About

    SILVERLENS is pleased to present A Lonely Picket in the Balcony, a solo exhibition by Leslie de Chavez. This is the artist’s third individual presentation with the gallery, his previous ones being Buntong Hininga in 2010, and Nameless Presence in 2013. A diverse artist by practice, de Chavez features paintings, sculptures, and installations in his latest show.  In keeping with his socio-political oeuvre, these works investigate the struggles and inequalities faced by the marginalised – victims of systemic injustice, brought about by political indulgences. Although de Chavez’s art centres on Philippine themes and narratives, it has gained international recognition in the universality of his subjects: people in the shadows, of which the world is filled.


    “Kailangang makiramay (We must commiserate).” Isolated, party to collective grief, and conscious of an artist’s role in unprecedented times, Leslie de Chavez returns to commiseration as both impetus and goal.

    A Lonely Picket in The Balcony is de Chavez’s third solo show with Silverlens, and his second in this gallery’s Manila space. It features over ten pieces created in what would turn out to be the gasp of air between two surges of COVID infection rates in the country. In A Lonely Picket in The Balcony, de Chavez continues a prolific yet always grounded two-decade run that has spanned art spaces from mercantile Liverpool to mystic Quezon, the artist’s home province. This output is particularly important, produced as it was during the longest pandemic lockdown in the world.

    de Chavez’s latest works occupy a slipstream between the immediacy of the figurative and the gut punch of the metaphorical—the time between wound and scar tissue. Together, they highlight the tension between communal compassion and national necropolitics. There are no tidy resolutions here, no straight answers. Rather, through cold ironies and howling negative spaces, via installations and on canvas, in antiseptic acrylic as well as deadly ballistic lead, de Chavez truncates collective helplessness into a single line of inquiry: a line of lamentation as poured concrete, a call for reparation in metallic leaf.

    Words by Paolo Enrico Melendez.

    Manila-born Filipino artist Leslie de Chavez has been widely recognized for his incisive and sensible forays into history, cultural imperialism, religion, and contemporary life. Responding to urgent material conditions through his deconstructions of master texts, icons, and the symbols of his times, de Chavez strikes a balance between iconoclasm and an affirmative outlook to the relevance and accountability of art to one's milieu. Leslie de Chavez has held several solo exhibitions in the Philippines, China, Korea, Singapore, UK, and Switzerland. He has also participated in several notable exhibitions and art festivals, which include the Singapore Biennale 2013, 3rd Asian Art Biennale in Taiwan 2011, 3rd Nanjing Triennial in China 2008, First Pocheon Asia Biennale in South Korea 2007. A two-time awardee (2010/2014) of the Ateneo Art Awards for Visual Art,  Leslie de Chavez is also the director/founder of the artist-run initiative Project Space Pilipinas, in Lucban, Quezon. He is exclusively represented by Arario Gallery (Korea) since 2006.

    “My practice has involved the creation of diverse art forms that scrutinize various issues in Philippine society such as history, colonialism, religion, imperialism, miseducation, power struggle, contemporary culture, politics and social values. My process entails the resurfacing of historical templates, re-examining contemporary social discourse and rediscovering introspection as methods to pin down the truth about the many realities we Filipinos experience. As an artist, I believe that responding through art to our continuous victimization from the chronic conditions of our society can be truly liberating.”

    Formerly Associate Editor of ROGUE Magazine, Paolo Enrico Melendez is the author of "Gun Noises, Made with Mouth", a collection of essays, interviews, and rock reportage released via barter across Manila's underground music communities. His fiction has been published in numerous national anthologies. He is a fellow of the UP National Writers Workshop, and a recipient of the Philippines Free Press Literary Award for fiction. Outside of writing, Melendez plays with other artist-musicians in the stoner-punk band Kapitan Kulam. He is from Tanauan in Batangas.

SILVERLENS is pleased to present A Lonely Picket in the Balcony, a solo exhibition by Leslie de Chavez. This is the artist’s third individual presentation with the gallery, his previous ones being Buntong Hininga in 2010, and Nameless Presence in 2013. A diverse artist by practice, de Chavez features paintings, sculptures, and installations in his latest show.  In keeping with his socio-political oeuvre, these works investigate the struggles and inequalities faced by the marginalised – victims of systemic injustice, brought about by political indulgences. Although de Chavez’s art centres on Philippine themes and narratives, it has gained international recognition in the universality of his subjects: people in the shadows, of which the world is filled.


“Kailangang makiramay (We must commiserate).” Isolated, party to collective grief, and conscious of an artist’s role in unprecedented times, Leslie de Chavez returns to commiseration as both impetus and goal.

A Lonely Picket in The Balcony is de Chavez’s third solo show with Silverlens, and his second in this gallery’s Manila space. It features over ten pieces created in what would turn out to be the gasp of air between two surges of COVID infection rates in the country. In A Lonely Picket in The Balcony, de Chavez continues a prolific yet always grounded two-decade run that has spanned art spaces from mercantile Liverpool to mystic Quezon, the artist’s home province. This output is particularly important, produced as it was during the longest pandemic lockdown in the world.

de Chavez’s latest works occupy a slipstream between the immediacy of the figurative and the gut punch of the metaphorical—the time between wound and scar tissue. Together, they highlight the tension between communal compassion and national necropolitics. There are no tidy resolutions here, no straight answers. Rather, through cold ironies and howling negative spaces, via installations and on canvas, in antiseptic acrylic as well as deadly ballistic lead, de Chavez truncates collective helplessness into a single line of inquiry: a line of lamentation as poured concrete, a call for reparation in metallic leaf.

Words by Paolo Enrico Melendez.

Manila-born Filipino artist Leslie de Chavez has been widely recognized for his incisive and sensible forays into history, cultural imperialism, religion, and contemporary life. Responding to urgent material conditions through his deconstructions of master texts, icons, and the symbols of his times, de Chavez strikes a balance between iconoclasm and an affirmative outlook to the relevance and accountability of art to one's milieu. Leslie de Chavez has held several solo exhibitions in the Philippines, China, Korea, Singapore, UK, and Switzerland. He has also participated in several notable exhibitions and art festivals, which include the Singapore Biennale 2013, 3rd Asian Art Biennale in Taiwan 2011, 3rd Nanjing Triennial in China 2008, First Pocheon Asia Biennale in South Korea 2007. A two-time awardee (2010/2014) of the Ateneo Art Awards for Visual Art,  Leslie de Chavez is also the director/founder of the artist-run initiative Project Space Pilipinas, in Lucban, Quezon. He is exclusively represented by Arario Gallery (Korea) since 2006.

“My practice has involved the creation of diverse art forms that scrutinize various issues in Philippine society such as history, colonialism, religion, imperialism, miseducation, power struggle, contemporary culture, politics and social values. My process entails the resurfacing of historical templates, re-examining contemporary social discourse and rediscovering introspection as methods to pin down the truth about the many realities we Filipinos experience. As an artist, I believe that responding through art to our continuous victimization from the chronic conditions of our society can be truly liberating.”

Formerly Associate Editor of ROGUE Magazine, Paolo Enrico Melendez is the author of "Gun Noises, Made with Mouth", a collection of essays, interviews, and rock reportage released via barter across Manila's underground music communities. His fiction has been published in numerous national anthologies. He is a fellow of the UP National Writers Workshop, and a recipient of the Philippines Free Press Literary Award for fiction. Outside of writing, Melendez plays with other artist-musicians in the stoner-punk band Kapitan Kulam. He is from Tanauan in Batangas.

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