Catch Max Balatbat's Avenida Karnabal at the Ayala Museum until July 26

We have one word to describe this ArtistSpace exhibit: Spectacular! Spectacular!





( If you find yourself in Makati this week—actually, even if you don’t, we urge you to make time—do drop by Ayala Museum’s ArtistSpace to step right up into the fascinating realm of award-winning artist Max Balatbat’s Avenida Karnabal.



A kaleidoscopic assortment of patchwork characters stare down at you from gallery walls: a manikurista, a key duplicator, an aging prostitute… Immortalized in mixed media, these are real people from Balatbat’s colorful youth spent exploring his neighborhood, Avenida’s northern end; his favorite playground, the International Cabaret.


"Payaso Trapiko," detail







Pointing to “Payaso Trapiko,” a balding man with a red clown nose, Balatbat reveals, “This guy has directed traffic in the same street corner for years, so I gave him a red stoplight for a nose.” You’ll discover other "A-ha!" moments secreted in each piece, all already incredibly arresting on their own, even if you did not know their back stories. Standing at the center of the circus ring is a sculpture any Manila resident is bound to recognize: “Sampaguiha,” Balatbat’s beautifully chilling interpretation of a prepubescent street flower vendor, forces us to see the forlorn reality even as we instinctively try to avert our gazes.


This is Manila in all its grit and glory, brilliantly captured in Balatbat’s artistry. Come one, come all!



Avenida Karnabal runs until July 26 at ArtistSpace, Ayala Museum, Greenbelt Park, Makati City. For inquiries, call 759-8288.


Photos by Pierra Labrador and from the ArtistSpace Facebook page

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