Sunday, March 12, 2017

Optimism is Ridiculous: The Altarpieces

After my Saturday French class, I trooped to the Ayala Museum to visit the exhibit called "Optimism is Ridiculous: The Altarpieces" by Thai painter Natee Utarit.  

I was kind of concerned because the artwork might be highly politicised or highly critical, given the title... nothing wrong with that but my purpose was to relax while looking at the artwork. I didn't want a political interpretation dictated to me; I want to see the collection for itself and see it for its visual properties.

As I walked around the exhibit, poring through the paintings, I noticed that these were really big pieces, most could fit behind the altar in churches! And they were all thought-provoking. For instance...

The piece below says that churches, the traditional home of optimism and faith, have become home of cynicism, resistance and pessimism. Interesting, it's an idea that I have noticed in the dioramas. That is, the Filipino resistance movement and the first government officials used to meet in churches, like the Barasoain Church


My favourite piece in the exhibit is the one on unending corridors. It reminds me a lot of the corridors in the University of Queensland, albeit the corridors at uni were a bit more on the pink side. Aside from that, I don't see how optimism can be ridiculous with this painting. Unless of course, we talk about the endlessness of the corridor. It's as if we'll never reach the goal. And at the end, it's all might be in vain, because the corridor is dark.


What better way to illustrate that it's ridiculous to be positive than a painting representing Adam and Eve as skeletons? It is as macabre as they come! I'm not sure which one is Adam and which one is Eve. All I know is that one of them is holding the other one's heart. And as they wait for the coming of the One who was going to redeem from the original sin, the humans start thinking that if God did not exist, it is necessary to invent Him. Does that mean that Adam and Eve are waiting in vain?


After my brief tour of the exhibit, I felt that it's one of the more thought-provoking sets of paintings that I have seen. I didn't leave with a sense of peace or catharsis. Instead, I was kind of disturbed by the theme's seemingly existential view of life.

Oh well... I need to find a new, happier, exhibit to watch...