PLAIN wooden blocks were brought to life through different artistic media by 25 artists including two Thomasians, in BaBel, or Building a Better Edifice Leisurely, an art exhibit held at the Underground Gallery in Makati Square.

Exhibit curator Nice Buenaventura designed four wooden, irregularly-shaped blocks originally intended to be stacked and re-stacked by the viewers which served as the blank slates for the artists. This structural limitation ties the whole exhibit as different artists unveil intricate and bizarre designs the given blocks can be.

Mixed-media artist Zeus Bascon’s “Lost Charms,” a College of Commerce and Business Administration alumnus, linked together an irregular-shaped silver block, a glittered pink, green and white cylinder block, a multicolored and abstractly-painted tube block, and an orange and black cube speckled with miniscule silver triangles using a braided dyed orange cloth, accented by two tiny bells.

“I used whatever I can get my hands on in this exhibit. I sometimes stopped on working on my pieces but I really dedicated a set of consecutive days to focus mainly on that piece,” Bascon said in an email to the Varsitarian. “I even bring the wooden blocks with me a couple of times so I can work with it once inspiration and motivation kicks in.”

Meanwhile, Costantino Zicarelli, an Advertising Arts alumnus of the College of Fine Arts and Design, used black gesso—a paint mixture usually used as a primer made from a combination of chalk, gypsum and pigment, which he partnered with graphite on paper.

Zicarelli said he underwent a hard time thinking of a design for the wooden blocks which made him resort to reusing old ideas.

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“The challenging factor was using the blocks as the main work. It was stressing me out but I had a last minute decision to reuse an old idea which is a camouflage illusion,” he said.

Zicarelli’s work “Block Objects” consists of an illustration of the aforementioned shapes accentuated by precise tracings on each side of the blocks all overlaid by continuous tracings of the wood texture’s pattern. Drawn on a black canson paper, his interpretation of the wooden blocks stands out as the only tabular work in the exhibit. Stacked beside this were his work of wood prisms all painted in black.

The exhibit, which ran through early September, also featured the works of veteran artists Nilo Ilarde and Juan Alcazaren namely “Big Kick, Plain Scrap” and “Best Excuse Ever,” respectively.

Zicarelli is a contemporary artist who was one of the recipients of the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ 13 Artists Awards in 2012 while Bascon won an illustrator’s award at the 2010 Philippine Board on Books for Young People Awards.

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