Bantay Salakay, Oil on paper 60 x 45 cm. 2011



The canine/animal and a “smoky technique” persist in Ignacio’s works—from his first solo exhibition Ako si Klang-Klang (2003) to his succeeding shows Disintegrated (2004) and Kahig (2010). Ako si Klang-Klang was a playful venture into assuming an animal’s perspective. Seeing the world from the point of view of a nearly blind dog, his paintings took on a murky ambience. This hazy laminate seen in all his ensuing ouvres is a synthesis of this old dog’s perspective and another—which can also be deemed as marginal—film photography. The dense texture that clouds Ignacio’s paintings is inspired by a photography texture brought about by film grains, the light-sensitive silver halide salts that form latent image when exposed to light. An aficionado of old film cameras, Ignacio daily prowls the streets, shooting men, animals, and the city with his Olympus XA, Canonet QL17, or Nikon F3.

A plethora of media and interests—film photography, painting, and the metropolitan nuances—inform Ignacio’s works. The density of the processes of walking to cull images and of transfer from one medium to another involves an activity that is more than contemplative, that is never passive. Ignacio’s approach to painting as/from photography necessitates putting premium on time as it is the main content of a photograph, which can never be captured through formal arrangement interpretations in paintings. Ignacio’s “technique,” the grains, tell the time of his walk and wait through social experience and memory—invoking the “personal, economic, dramatic, everyday and historic”.[i] This is a sensibility he deems he lost when he zoomed in the photograph too much in Disintegrated which featured textured abstracts. He resented thoroughly shattering his images.

The preference for an intact image is less of a purist figurative streak and more an abhorrance for empty visual play. In Dog Mode, Ignacio takes up from the ends from his beginnings. He goes back to the beasts and time, softly suffusing the two concepts together to form a sad satire of the human condition. Why look at these animals? John Berger relates how the zoos stand as epitaph to the relationship between animals and humans. The animals in zoos “constitute the living monument to their own disappearance”[ii] and nowhere in it will the person “encounter the look of an animal.”[iii] Ignacio augments Berger’s rhetorics on the marginalization of both animals and the working peasants—the class closest to the beasts—as a byproduct of the culture of capitalism. Ignacio puts dog masks on the humans. The dog-masked men are imbued with knowing sly, wild chagrins. Wildness is replaced with malice.

The masked men saunter about, prompted to do circus acrobatics and taboos. They are doing tricks, flinging and swallowing knives, walking on a string, dancing. A diptych shows one taking a leak, while facing the other side, an empty frame save for the flow of urine on the floor. The four hapless men and women in the portraits take on the docile gaze, facing a grinning dog sculpture that just pissed on their faces. All the figuratives are placed starkly in the center of the canvasses, highlighted with vignettes. That the humane is pushed to the margins while the animalistic takes centerstage smacks of the artist’s critique of the media culture flux wherein reality is pre-chewed and spoonfed by the media for mass consumption. Operating on the symbolic meaning of animal/dog in the modern context, Ignacio shows how man doggedly follows axioms of media and market. The merging of animal and human tells of an aberrant fusion borne of a homogenous yearning to belong and become. Ignacio’s heavily textured surfaces, packed full from his daily walks through the city flooded with images of promises and desire, ruthlessly drip with nostalgia—a longing for something absent in the representation/s.

Dog Mode displays the artist’s increasing consiousness on the arbitrariness of image and meaning, and the innate worthlessness of signs. There is a tangible restlessness, as he resorts to flagrant symbolisms such as dogs for mindless victims, circus for chaos, and piss for pissed. The texture of the film salt moderates the directness of these metaphors but barely enough to conceal a palpable feral ferocity of the disenfranchised. These creatures are no strangers to the civilized. They are aggressive precisely because they are too familiar with the workings of this system. They prowl about, never looking straight—alternately docile and aggressive, but lethargic in general—with protruding stomachs and tired lackluster eyes. Both man and beast are in the center yet marginal—they wait for the next stimulation to come with mounting desperation. Meanwhile, one (LOL) takes off his mask to take a break and, alas.

By: Adjani Arumpac