Manix Abrera's New Exhibit Is An Exploration of the Unknown
It runs until February 18 at Galerie Stephanie.
(SPOT.ph) For almost two decades, cartoonist Manix Abrera has been telling stories of ordinary Filipino life through comics, most notably with more than a dozen published books of his most popular work to date—the Kiko Machine series. Popular among a new generation of comic fanatics, it illustrates ordinary lives with humor, mostly satire, to discuss subjects that vary from college life to national issues and politics.
But from time to time, Abrera works on other projects that deal with his rather more personal and quiet side; such as his solo exhibit entitled Mandirigma ng Kalawakan, launched on February 3 at Galerie Stephanie in Mandaluyong. For this show, he presents us with what appears to be paths and realms that the human mind goes to as one deals with different challenges and experiences in our lives. To him, it is as if we are placed as warriors in this universe, navigating tracks of the unknown in order to find a place symbolizing an unpredictable future.
A magnificent work in archival monoprint is "Mandirigmang Lihim" where a seemingly human form walks into a jungle of colorful biomorphic trees. The image captures the feelings of “being lost” and of solitude, but also brings about a certain kind of calmness that you wouldn’t often associate with walking into an unknown place. This brings emphasis to Abrera’s message in this exhibit: As you go through life, you are always headed for uncertainty; but that just means that you are free to walk through it and explore more possibilities.
Additionally, the art pieces—that are either in color or in black and white—encourage you to not allow yourself be confined to a single route or approach in making decisions. This is obvious in the interchangeable themes of chaos and isolation in his works. For example, in "Sandugo," small beings appear as if they are trapped inside a chaotic arrangement of red balloons while an isolated being wearing a cape flies in the air.
"Balintataw" (L); "Nakaraan" (R)
This idea of endless exploration is seen even in Abrera’s style. In "Nakaraan," a spaceman stands outside of a form reminiscent of the human heart as he watches from a falling runway. The drawing, made from ink and graphite on Khadi paper, showcases the artist’s skill and talent honed by decades of guidance from his father, popular editorial cartoonist Jess Abrera, who encouraged him to come up with his own original style at an early age.
Abrera begins his works by drawing using traditional media such as ink and graphite. He then digitally paints over them to achieve bright colors, which are prominent in his works, bringing a sense of comfort to the viewer even if the ideas and themes could be intense and heavy.
In his years as a Fine Arts student in the University of the Philippines – Diliman, he became an illustrator for the Philippine Collegian. While he drew editorial cartoons, he was exposed to the national political climate and became more aware of the stories he chose to depict. Both his style and attitude were tested as his editors would often ask for revisions—or reject his illustrations altogether. In the end, his hard work persisted and his discipline allowed him to become one of the most recognized artists in the current local comic landscape.
With Mandirigma ng Kalawakan, Abrera pushes himself to resist being boxed in. He keeps expanding his own horizons, perhaps without realizing how he may also be changing the perspective of his audience, shifting their gaze from comics to fine arts and vice versa. Much like the realms that Abrera attempts to present us in this show, he shows two faces of himself: the humorous, in the colorful voices of his Kiko Machine characters; and the silent, in the man who sees himself traveling into space, visiting and exploring planet after planet of opportunities while struggling to keep afloat.
Mandirigma ng Kalawakan runs until February 18 at Galerie Stephanie, 4/F Shangri-La Plaza, EDSA corner Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City. For more information, visit Galerie Stephanie’s website.