AVANT-GARDE graphic designers and OPM artists interact with one another in the art fusion design exhibit Versus (VS.): Design and Music Collide, at the newly-opened Theo Gallery of Makati’s Saguijo Café and Bar.

Opened last June 13, the exhibit featured various media, mostly digital, breathing life to the featured songs rendered by the performers in a short concert later that evening. Aside from the concert, CD and MP3 of the interpreted songs were provided beside each artwork.

Versus became possible through an alliance of graphic design artists and Filipino musicians. The group celebrates graphic design as a form of visual expression. The partnership has been forged amid the rise of graphic design as an art and the proliferation of its merchandise.

“Of course, these triumphs emerged due to the surge of genuine talents and sophisticated technology. Both factors work hand in hand in graphic design,” said Thomasian Paul Guadalupe, who performed under the alias “Guadakomeda.”

Since the utilization of graphic design by advertisers, using aliases has been a trend for artists like Guadakomeda. This trend among graphic artists does not only reveal their personality or the type of graphics they do, but also give them a catchy marketing identity.

Four alumni of the old College of Architecture and Fine Arts (CAFA), including Guadalupe and a College of Science alumna, exhibited their artworks along with other fellow art junkies, like showbiz personality Meryll Soriano, known as “Planet Umeboshi.” Soriano collaborated with Guadakomeda in interpreting jazz artist Isha’s “Tombstones for Fireflies.” The pair’s art piece was a vector art, which mixed Umeboshi’s doodle handworks and photography with Guadakomeda’s digital graphics. Their artwork featured Isha in black-body stockings and a gothic make-up, against an orange and yellow-doodle background, which gave the singer a darker, enigmatic image.

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Meanwhile, CAFA alumni Joey Alviar and Mon Punzalan, Team Manila’s graphic artists, teamed up with Slapshock vocalist Jamir “Samurai” Garcia in “Happy,” an eclectic flow of beats and tones. The graphic artists mounted 10 small boxes with floral silkscreen borders and a light bulb inside, covered by acrylic glasses containing text cut-outs, which represent the different hours of the day when people do things to feel happy such as “12:32 pm Everybody Dig In” and “2:43 am Safe Under the Moonlight.”

Merging illustration and graphic design, design studio Electrolychee interpreted Indie band Helen’s tune, “Back in my Home.” Marcus Nada, an award-winning Thomasian book illustrator and co-owner of the studio, used empty wine boxes attached to the wall, protecting abstract paintings on small pieces of wood hanging and hooked together. This mimicked the wall hangings inside a house, fusing organic and digital art.

Calling themselves “Mother funkers,” Rex and College of Science graduate Joyce Tai of Inksurge infused their creative styles in “Vespers,” a collaboration between Late Isabel’s dreamy singer-songwriter Wawi Navarozza and Radioactive Sago Project’s composer Francis de Veyra. The design studio came up with a digital portrayal of the recording, printed on satin, featuring a woman’s face surrounded by distorted images of lions and bold striking black lines, giving it a 3D feel. The song and artwork conveyed confusion and chaos between the old and the new..

Two of the works, meanwhile, featured the fast-paced hip-hop culture. AJ Dimarucot and Arvin Nogueras of Collision Theory spray-painted black-and-white graffiti on old-shoe boxes and kitchen drawers to construe P.G.’s “What Color is Love?”

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Meanwhile, Nico Puertollano and Katwo Librando of 27 and 20 studio made use of skateboards, t-shirts, and an underwear painted with latex and textile paints of yellow, red, and orange for Sun Valley Crew’s “Did Ya?!” They also used icons like the face of the crucified Christ and the lotus-positioned Buddha, which seemed to compare hip-hop to faith and religion as a way of life.

Supersteady and Doofusdraws depicted Sound’s “Maynila,” while Everywhere We Shoot! interpreted Ang Bandang Shirley’s “Patintero/Habulan/LarongKalye.” Both works conjured fascination with certain aspects of Filipino culture.

Meanwhile, Kyleprojects’ computer geek Erickson Enriquez created drawings of women with wrinkled faces and blank expressions portraying a woman’s misery in Up Dharma Down’s gloomy song “Broken Mirrors and Screaming Turtles.”

Project Versus will tour other galleries and commercial spaces in Manila. Besides the exhibition, Project Versus is also producing limited-edition designer kits containing the more notable graphic designs and a CD of the featured songs. Andrew Isiah P. Bonifacio


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