For over a decade, the Iloilo art community has seen one artist who has valiantly dedicated his art and life to environmental justice, and that is no other than Marrz Capanang.
The intuitive artist is the present time cognoscente when it comes to environment and art, and this is demonstrated by his fourth solo show, entitled: Reverence at Art Underground in Manila. It is a contemplative collection that plays up the state of nature under the injurious hands of humans and demanding respect.
An environmental activist, mentor, and grassroots leader, Marrz Capanang brought to the audience of Art Underground the finer details of the subject so persistently carried by the community engagement arm that he organized in Iloilo called Artivism, a portmanteau of art and activism.
The collection offers a narrative formed from Capanang’s careful observations and experiences as a young adventurous boy climbing trees, which endured in the memory of the artist, because of the ideal character of human interaction with nature that is mutually protective, unharmful, and undamaging; nothing but a peaceful coexistence and relationship.
The connectedness of things
Capanang’s highly-regarded and dedicated partner – the community leader, writer, and poet – Kristine Buenavista, poignantly describe the contours of the collection which starts with “Manaya-naya/Delicate”, an emplacement of the limbs to see the birds and ends with “Dagaya/Myriad”, a fractal gaze of leaves and light.
In between, emphasized Buenavista, “the diaphragm becomes the bark full of lichen, arms become branches – home for the endangered, the elusive, the magnificent, and even the nocturnal.”
This is not the first time that Capanang has shown work that emulsifies two ingredients. In fact, his fourth solo highlights the continuing saga of Capanang’s environmental activism, underscoring the connectedness of nature and human beings to enable viewers to realize that the two are not autonomous from each other but, rather, dependent and held by a delicate thread.
Reverence is a continuing saga
Reverence subtly introduces newcomers to Capanang’s art-making philosophy, which uses the process of connectedness or the connectivity of various elements to complete a visual story or narrative.
Capanang articulated his approach during his second solo show, Pasisiring (Gallery i, March 2018), describing it as “pangut-angut,” a Hiligaynon slang that means “connectivity.” This is a distinctive method of presentation by the artist to facilitate the audience’s understanding that things are connected, although in constant flux.
The same was prominent in Capanang’s third solo show, Panakayon sang mga Tinubo (Mamusa Art Gallery, November 2018), and, safely assuming, perhaps even in his first solo show at Kulay Diwa Contemporary Art Gallery.
Substantially, connectedness or linkage is not only a visual story-telling approach of Capanang but also an elucidation of the reality that nature and humans are connected, and this is portrayed in Reverence, showing a “body-to-body connection between man and tree—two complex ecosystems nourished by what is truly essential.”
Capanang’s distinctive language
Another perdurable feature of Capanang’s presentation is the use of the Hiligaynon title on his works to impart the rich cultural tradition of Panay and promote the sharing of meaning.
According to the show, to revere is to “stand in awe of” and Tahud (or reverence in Hiligaynon) is also used to mean high respect for a person, or to push further, respect to all living creatures and even non-living things.
For this show, Tahud can be taken as an appeal for respect for nature, natural creatures, traditions, experiences, and memory. Hence, Reverence is depicted as the “indigenous body holds [holding] tactile memories of [a boy] climbing a tree while the animist spirit sees through it: a fellow sentient being capable of hope.” It implies that all living things should be respected because of their spiritual dimension: humans have souls, animals are sentient, and plants are vegetative. Therefore, everything is fragile and deserves reverence.
Marrz Capanang’s Reverence stimulates our sensitivity to our environment, and it appeals for a reassessment of our ways of treating nature. The collection is an enriching additional chapter in Capanang’s body of work, and it allows followers of the artist to look forward to the next in order to link the past to the present given the evolving narrative of humans and nature.
About Art Underground Manila
– All photos including featured photo of Marrz Capanang were taken from the Facebook Page of Art Underground Manila.
– The text About Underground Manila is likewise lifted from the gallery’s Facebook Page.