Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gallerina Doubts God And Other Tales Of Artistic Missteps

Deducting a title from dusty pillars of books fencing my bedside was something I was hell-bent of accomplishing these past few days. If you have been occasionally drifting here in my blog you'll, by now, be aware that I belong to that anomalous subspecies of human beings with narcotic impetus to hoard books, stack them like soon-to-be-forgotten bricks in one corner of the room to soak dust until boredom hits and the urge to read them become the only alternative to serial killing.

Recent hoarding spree includes copies of A.A. Gill’s The Angry Island, Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, Roddy Doyle’s Oh Play That Thing and the title I devoured in one sitting, Danielle Ganek’s Lulu Meets God And Doubts Him.

Lulu is a glossy, stylish, smart, brisk, (often hilariously) wry send up to Manhattan’s nutty Art Scene, populated by snooty “gallerinas” (bratty, gorgeous gallery assistants), dubious but high-powered art dealers, ravenous collectors and egotistical artists who fuel the psychosis of Art Lust.

It’s a challenge to put it down. You’re immediately siphoned into the riotous circus of characters nonchalantly trading greed, ambition, power, fame and fortune, making you wonder whether there is a special cell in hell allocated to people who would declare, say, a bucket of brittle cow dung high concept magnum opus. There were no cow dung in the book of course, and I write this in hyperbolic sense, but personally having once worked in a gallery of a museum (and having been exposed to the kind of personalities lucidly described in the book) it is not far from being the neighborhood of really happening.

Tucked in the middle of the debauched tale are ponderings that will ring true regardless whether one is working in the creative industry or not. The sardonic protagonist, an atypical gallerina who cultivates a hidden path to being a bonafide painter herself, mulls over while attempting a self portrait:

There’s something in my eyes when I look at them in the mirror, what is that? Not doubt. More like insecurity. I want to convey an expression of what’s it like to be twenty-eight, knowing you’re a grown up but wondering what you’re supposed to be when you grow up. I want to capture what it looks like when you start to realize you have to let go of your dreams.

She robbed many of us of our very own familiar sentiments.

~ ~ ~

While we are dipping in the subject of art books allow me to take this sudden/short-lived vacation from being a complete zit and urge you to check out Preview Magazine’s stunning book of collaboration titled Preview Art.

I am not the target audience of the fashion/style rag nor am I an ardent follower of their monthly lunacy but I am very much impressed by what they have accomplished with this project.

Preview Art explores the intersection of avant-garde fashion and contemporary art in one spectacular compendium. The Philippines’ progressive crop of multitalented artists convenes alongside inventive local fashion designers, documented through cutting edge styling, art direction and photography.

This Fashion+Art concept is not exclusively original to Preview as we have throughout the years looked at groundbreaking efforts at Visionaire, Spoon, Self Service, Tank, Wad even Paper and i-D magazines. Even locally-published bi-annual Imagine magazine pushes the boundaries in this variety of exploration.

Nevertheless this is a creditable, worthwhile endeavor for Preview Magazine as it coincides with the publication of their one hundred fiftieth editions. Instead of producing self-congratulatory circle jerks for their accomplishments (through reprinting their best past works) they refused to regurgitate their archives and did the most inspired thing: publishing a striking volume that surveys the visionary practitioners in the artistic disciplines, highlighting the most innovative, conceptual approaches. The cutting edge soft-bound effort divulges a sort of foretaste to where Philippine Creative Psyche is heading when encouraged. That is a very smart thing to do.

Noticeable nonetheless is Preview Art’s “The Usual Suspects” decisions. The (majority, if not all of) designers, stylists, photographer/s and artists featured are already big names or semi-established brand names in the scene. Don't get me wrong; I admire many of those names and their works. If I may register a slight regret, this project could have been a very impactful, landmark platform to catapult obscure but prodigiously gifted, or serve as a pool for brilliant undiscovered or emerging creative individuals into prominence, or at least in the appreciative radar of the mainstream. This could have been a good route if Preview wishes to assert its claim as THE progressive seer—THE Forward Thinker among local style rags.

Regardless of this minor lapse nothing can alter the fact that Preview Art accomplished a striking momentum in curating works into a tome of distinctive voices. Through its high styled-high art convergence we get a refreshing glimpse: That Pinoy creativity is not only thriving, it is throbbing with dynamism and excitement.

Well done Preview Magazine! For your birthday I wish you’d be a maverick and abolish “Black Is Back” in your coverlines!


Mr. Scrooge said...

The LoudFashionista Cometh. People not wearing bespoke suits beware. You shall be blinded by how his necktie fits perfectly with his long-sleeved dress shirt, and how it is tied in the most fashionable way. With his art critique skills, honed in the depths of an unknown art gallery, he will rip you to shreds before you can say BRYANBOOOY!

MisterHeuge said...

Lulu Meets God And Doubts Him seems like my kind of novel. Where did you buy it?

loudcloud said...

mr. scrooge - thats a bit grand, dont you think? ;-)

misterheuge - wherelse but the manna central of bibliophiles with no trust fund: booksale!

i'll check if they have an extra copy for you :-)

MisterHeuge said...

Just bought a copy. Booksale, I love you.

Mr. Scrooge said...

Yes. Booksale. Seriously, I spend too much money there. I spent about 2000 + there na this past month... >_<

Loud, you'd be surprised. I promise you kilala mo ung may-ari ng booksale. :))

Mr. Scrooge said...

@Loud - I always knew you were grand :P hahahahahahhaa. Bring me to that tailor at once!

rikuo bisiro said...

Haha! Me too..I have tons of books but I have never red some of them. Yung Iba binili ko lang kasi ang ganda ng cover haha : )

ian said...

i'm colorblind. i'm a walking fashion migraine. i can apply to be a "before" for makeovers hehe i wonder if Preview can help me.

loudcloud said...

rikuo - yes, we are all prone to judging books by their covers hehe.

ian - send me the before photos so i can mock them LOL

Anonymous said...

I heart Booksale. The last book I bought there was a Russian novel about a woman who kept a cast iron statue of Lenin in her apartment after they have been outlawed. For PhP45.00 only.