MEMORIES can be a treasure trove of creative ideas and playful sensations for artist Mark Salvatus, raids his den of childhood memories in his second solo exhibit, Eyes Wide Open.

Salvatus, a College of Fine Arts and Design instructor, explored different mediums for his exhibit that opened last June 16 at Pablo, an alternative art gallery at the Marikina Shoe Expo in Cubao. Eyes Wide Open is a take-off from his first one-man show in 2005, Blah Blah, which showed his mastery of digital vector art. Silkscreen printing, acrylic painting, soft sculptures, as well as the modification of found objects, characterize Salvatus’ newest artworks, attesting to his versatility as an artist.

The artist relied heavily on the association between objects and their meanings. As stated in his concept paper, a thing will evoke “tingling sensations” if it calls to mind certain memories, “directly proportional to the amount of meaning assigned to the object.” Salvatus even mentioned a pair of hand-me-down Mighty Kid shoes worn by its owner’s (probably Salvatus himself) young feet for six years, implying the exhibit was inspired by the artist’s own youthful recollections.

Noticeable in one corner are hanging picture frames containing various images, probably glimpses of the artist’s memories. The frames are an assortment of picture collage, drawings, and other whimsies of Salvatus’ mind and hands, exploring the various artistic styles that make the pieces truly his.

Square robots in silkscreen, one of the visual elements in Salvatus’ 2003 Printmakers Association of the Philippines contest entry, reappeared in Eyes Wide Open. The prints are modified with acrylic brushstrokes to imply the artist’s purpose. Some of the canvases are etched with a sharp object, a technique that creates clean white lines in his pieces, which he used in his 2002 ArtPetron winning entry.

Patakaran sa parking, kinuwestiyon

A plaster roast chicken sculpture (unpainted and remaining in its pristine-white condition) sits quietly in an enamel-plated dish, and a stag’s head hangs from one wall, while a dog’s restraining mask fitted over its snout. The details are exceptional, and if not for their unpainted state, they must have looked life-like.

If there were a dominating symbolism in the exhibit, they would be the toy guns. They are depicted as having red liquid spewing from the barrels and arranged as if a child hastily put them back to their place. They seem, at first glance, Salvatus’ favorite toys as a little boy; but these guns represent another meaning. “Toy guns are cute, but they imply murder, even if the children are the ones playing with them,” Salvatus told the Varsitarian.

Another prominent feature in the exhibit is an ironing board with psychedelic patterns painted all over, and a fluorescent bulb affixed in the middle. This is as cryptic as most of the artist’s imagery, which seems to border on the artist’s personal side.

Little canvas dolls, meanwhile, are like “pilgrims” in their plastic suitcase home. Their faces are all alike (except for little paint blotches here and there on their little bodies). The dolls symbolize the artist’s view of being contained in a “box” that probably hinders his artistic visions.

Eyes Wide Open elicits a few shivers as Salvatus takes us for a spin along memory drive. Florian C. Garcia


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