The Drawing Room: INSIGHTS 3D12
Art Basel Hong Kong 2014
May 15 – 18, 2014

The Drawing Room’s exhibition at Insights – Art Basel Hong Kong 2014 presents Vermont Coronel Jr., and Troy Ignacio whose practices are informed by contemporary urban language. In the span of a year, The Drawing Room has embarked on a curatorial investigation of how the city is currently negotiated, interpreted and reshaped by through three exhibitions in Singapore – Populus (November 2012), Psychotropics (March 2013), and Immanent Geographies (May 2013). The exhibition for Art Basel Hong Kong 2014 extends further this dialogue of how we read cities in the forms of both our lived experience (psychogepography) and their no-place versions (heterotopia).

Colloquial to “the streets” is the graffiti practice where in Vermont Coronel Jr. began an artistic career in. Still using the principles of this format, he has taken the stencil method to a diligent framework in the production of his images. In his exhibition history, he has kept to two bodies of works – the spraypainted image on a canvas conceived through several matrices of cut-outs and the layered stencil cut-out themselves. For Insights, Coronel presents images of areas in ruin through three layers of cut-outs each. This process projects an inversion of a physical façade and with his method, he removes the very properties of what makes up an image and yet, in leaving the matrices with only the layers of the image’s lineation what is achieved is a diachronic depth so telling of the edifices’ history and current “place” in the city. The matrice itself becomes an image of a map, betraying Coronel’s deviating navigation around the city of Manila as a contemporary “flaneur” on a fixed gear bicycle. While the bridges resonate a physical navigation map, Coronel’s works propose another cartography that understands that a city is navigated through the history of its city-ness – that its present state straddles around its past lives.

In terms of navigating the city, Troy Ignacio’s practice is rooted on the vagaries of interpretation and memory. Through images that fade out in their overall monochromatic landscape, a language is produced banked on the mobility within the city – the places that leave imprints on us as we live on and move away from them. Known for his drawings and paintings, Ignacio debuts his photographic practice in artist-book form – a format that would relay a process of reading. While the images in the artist-book come from his locale of Metro Manila, they are nebulous – inviting a self-reflexivity towards participating in the motions of our urban landscape (its frenetic present and its overlapping past). As a whole, these artist books form the spaces that inform them: a peculiar empire of memory.