Number 1, Stencil on canvas, 153 x 122 cm. 2011


City and the Grit

In a recent artist talk, a similarity was drawn among cities. The artists presenting a slideshow of his residencies perceives the indelible use of graffiti in every place he bound to transiently, concluding this practice as one of the major contemporary channels through which tangible traces of ourselves can be left. Vermont Coronel Jr. uses this form as a way of making art in the streets, participating in this global event of intervening in urban surfaces – tagging individually as ‘VR’ and through stenciled figures or in the collective Pilipinas Street Plan. While this counted as an advertisement in the bedlam of markings by characters operating in virtual codes, Vermont directs us to look at this activity as a two-fold navigation through the city as the subject and site of painting.

Spirit Of A Place is composed out of the streets. This series of works is formed in an orchestration of photography, stencil and aerosol for Vermont’s first solo gallery exhibition. Not imposed on facades of the built environment this time, there is an act of inversion – rather than subversion – in superimposing imagery from the landscapes he has always been interacting with. The inanimate structure is no longer directly intervened on itself, but is subjected to a different form of artistic activity. In doing so, the artist validates that there is no conflict with the ‘street’ practice. And while the motions of performing on the streets and drawing from urban infrastructure overlap in criterion, they are compartmentalized and become complementary.

The works in this exhibition undergoes an artistic program of punctiliousness. Vermont uses the stencil technique of cutting the details of an image, positioning and spraypainting the matrix onto the canvas. As much as the works of Spirit Of A Place take shape through numerous formats, a further multiplicity is present in the sectioning of the matrix. What is responsible for depth of imagery is the ternary layers devoted per color. Every layer would contain several rows of individual blocks of cut stencil. Vermont carries the same grit of his subject in his process-oriented labor – each block is tagged with and tracked by the details of its accomplishment. Each painting, composed by a unique and original matrix, is marked by the time of its making, equating a certain steadfastness of its production. The framework of this tedious workmanship relies on the indulgence of details in every image. Vermont is naturally drawn to repeating patterns and a motley of texture, all the while this complements the rigor of the technique he is accustomed to and has decided to take on another phase with.

The significant juncture Vermont takes in Spirit Of A Place reveals that the ‘streets’ is synecdochical to the city. He pronounces his connection to the streets as he reacts to it, whether as contact to the urban surfaces or in transforming the resonance of what the city offers. Vermont emulates more than the fabric of the city in this exhibition as he portrays its reciprocity and dynamics concealed in the struggle it wages. He suspends tenuous features of the urban landscape and casts a ghostly ambiance in this process of interrupting the things and facades that are mostly overlooked while maneuvering in a frenetic system of order. While his VR graffiti jumps out of particular settings, the works in this exhibition abstracts places and seemingly orients them as backdrops. Losing their specific localities, these sites emerges as they fade into the pandemonium of their own details.

Sidd Perez, 2012.