(SPOT.ph) While papyrus was invented by the Egyptians in 2900 BC, it was China's creation of the paper-making industry in the second century that played a significant role in its proliferation. It was first used to wrap mirrors and medicine, and then went on to become instrumental in the development of Chinese calligraphy, painting, and poetry. The rest, as they say, is history. For Ryan Villamael, one of the featured artists for Art Fair Philippines 2019 from February 22 to 24 at The Link in Makati City, paper is more than something to write on or paint on. For the three-day festival, he's staging an edition of his work Behold a City, which was originally presented at Silverlens in Makati City in 2015.
Paying homage to the glory days of Manila
Villamael describes this installation as his "love letter to the city;" a physicial expression of a shared experience with the rest of us who live in the Philippines’ capital. It is his very own map of Manila, made by shaping mirrors and arranging them flat on the floor to mimic the city's system of streets, avenues, and waterways. He then erects cut-out photographs of Old Manila's most popular heritage sites, such as the Manila Post Office in Lawton and Art Deco buildings in Escolta, to create three-dimensional illusions. Finally, light is used to create shadows on the buildings’ façades, allowing you to see these structures from a different perspective.
But the map is just that—a representation—and can never replicate a historic and culturally rich city that's been buried in the temporary trappings of what some consider to be progress. Remarkably, Behold a City is mostly made of paper—a medium that Villamael has become well known for in his work as an artist.