WHAT is art? Does the term provide a ready template of some sort against which works are measured?

Any self-respecting artisté would have launched into a tirade against uniformity and insisted on boundlessness. But that is precisely what most of today’s art lacks of—boundlessness. Every maverick young Picasso starts out with lofty convictions, but more often than not fall into the rut of predictability swimming in still-lifes, landscapes and nudes.

And that is what “Boundless”, a display of 20 works by fairly new and young artists goes against. The recurring theme of the pieces is pushing-the-envelope renegade art. Each work tries to push the limits of art. The artists—Ivan Roxas, Wesley Valenzuela, Jaime Jesus Pacena III, Jepoy Almario, Oliver Abe Ramos, Lindslee, Buen Calubayan, Leobensant Marquez, Serj Bato, Mark Magistrado, and Art Bermido—are all promising artists of their generation.

Impeccable detail

Roxas’ works shine the brightest because of their painstakingly perfect detailing and skillful life-likelihood rendering. “Requiem” features a naked woman desolately leaning against a tombstone, and “The Art of Grief” shows the same woman, weeping this time, against a backdrop of life-size carved “weeper” stone statues. Roxas’ brushstrokes are unbelievably great: every part of the woman looks real, like a living, breathing human, while every part of the stone statues (the weepers and the tombstone angel) are as believable as ‘stone’ could ever be. To the untrained eye, the portraits could very well be mistaken as photographs.

With its stark minimalism, Ramos’ “King’s Chair” draws the viewer in. The chiaroscuro seems to take the subject, a lone chair, above the frame.

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Primitive beauty

Lindslee’s abstracts “Untitled” and “Who Are You?” are images of primitive chaos. They resemble ancient coal markings. Serj Bato’s “Drowning in Grapejuice” is a gothic shock of purple-scarlet. “Unaquatic Marathon,” also by Bato, is a solid yet fluid monochrome that calms one sans boredom. “Postmodern,” by Bermido, is another impressive abstract with its angry red and black splotches.

Gothika

“Tribute to Hail” by Calubayan is a mixed media spectacle with a derelict cabinet door—hinges and all—as canvas. Its sketched grafitti, deep reds, stickers and ethereal androgynous eyes would remind one of a rock album cover, but with more attitude.

Valenzuela’s “You Don’t Know Jack,” another mixed-media creation, features a bronze gargoyle in a happy/sad theater mask mounted on a frame of rich reds and blacks with imbedded tarot cards, jack cards and clippings. Its eerie presence fills unfailingly. “Untitled I and II”, also by Valenzuela, again features imbedded tarots in black and red splotches.

Cute

While most artists go “gothic” or “abstract”, Jaime Jesus Pacaña II chose to go “cute”. His “Table for Two” and “Waiting I, II, III, IV, and V” feature cuddly felines drawn in A.A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” fashion. Though cute, they don’t surrender to mediocrity. The vivid, solid colors prove both child-like and mature.

Boundless was displayed at the UST Beato Angelico Gallery. Ryan R. Reyes

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