TWO THOMASIAN artists offer a guided tour of their personal sanctuary—their art.

Displayed at the second floor of Big Sky Mind in E. Rodriguez Street, Jelo Submarine features the works of Thomasian artists Buen Calubayan and Jaime Pacena II, instructors at the UST College of Fine Arts and Design and members of the Young Thomasian Artist Circle.

For their first “two-man” show, they opened a vein of memories and let their feelings, thoughts, and experiences flow into the canvases and other works that stood as visual representations of the intangible.

The exhibit, which will run until July 31 has a title inspired by the Beatles song, “Yellow Submarine.” Beset by the pains of youth, Calubayan and Pacena thought of their lives like a “Jelo” (from playing with the word “yellow”) submarine, floating with the clouds when they were ecstatic, and plunging into a dark void of sea when they were down. The imaginary submarine also plays a large part in their friendship, as their brotherly bond has deepened over time.

Their submarine, now riding high, is temporarily parked at Big Sky Mind, and allows others to see what the artists’ lives are like. The whole second floor of the alternative art gallery is like a submarine’s dark interior, complete with little round windows on one side, but with the artworks hanging in the walls.

Pacena’s “Excerpts from the Visiting Hour” series carries his trademark digital art-distortion technique, which employs a process of creation, destruction, and reconstruction of artworks. Detailed in a biogaphical timeline, the series tells Pacena’s visual account of his own story. “The Meal,” meanwhile, alludes to the famed Venus de Milo statue. The woman, with black sclera blending with the pupils of her eyes, has a vampire-like look, making her as haunting as the dark colors and violent brushstrokes the artist used. She is the protagonist (or antagonist) in Pacena’s story, her imagery changing as the plot progresses.

Journalists at peril

In “Uncertainties,” the woman is a puppet with disconnected joints, while in “The Flight,” her folded legs are an open and empty chest of drawers, as if calling out to have them filled. Her chest has a gaping hole in “Imbalanced,” literally pouring out the contents of her heart, symbolized by a green cloth flying out of her. This idea is reminiscent of Pacena’s earlier work in Boxed, which had “secrets” coming out of the box of her throat (he used the same model for both exhibits) as a piece of red fabric.

“Anesthesia” is not digital art distortion, but a work depicting what looked like acrylic clouds of euphoric void. As the title implies, it could represent art as balm during bad days.

All of Pacena’s pieces are of dark earth colors, a striking contrast against the pale skin of his model. Though the works are relatively flat, the artist’s treatment yields a textured feel.

Calubayan, on the other hand, has come up with a mural-sized charcoal drawing. Depicting a wake through the hazy shadows, he sums up his own story in “Abged Jazz.” Though indecipherable at first glance, his drawing shows his mastery in contrast and shading, with the figures, shapes, and lines all falling into place. He has also painted a portrait of his wife with a charcoal-drawn crown over her head, which he said signifies that she is one of the “queens” of Jelo Submarine.

The artists are aware that the theme of their exhibit is quite common, “but we don’t care,” Calubayan told the Varsitarian. Jelo Submarine does not aim to impress anyone. It was to express the personal messages of the artists through their works.

Taguan at kamatayan

Immediately after the exhibit, the submarine will float once again, like in the Yellow Submarine animated film, through an ocean of visual metaphors which are truly the artists’ own. F.C. Garcia


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