There’s a kind of stillness in silence that one doesn’t dare interrupt with the utterance of words, but one accompanies with one’s breathing. This rhythmic flow of one’s breath pattern is inevitably interrupted by sound or sudden movement.
Such scenery informs Mars Bugaoan’s exhibition, “Fall”. At first glance at the title, one may think of the season in which trees shed their leaves and the air shifts with a slow introduction to winter. Romantics may read the word and think about the moment a person succumbs to the inevitability of Love, regardless if requited. Others will simply think of it as the result of gravity’s command over all things in this planet.
For the artist, “Fall” is an homage to the days he spent in Talisay, Negros. Upon his return to Manila, Mars Bugaoan’s life resumed like clockwork. Still he often finds his mind wandering back to a slower-paced life.
He observed that having spent an unexpectedly prolonged period in Negros, due to the national lockdown, has given him a hyperawareness to the passage of time. It has also created a deep appreciation for the stillness that comes in observing scenes of the present. Brief moments unburdened by thoughts of an unforeseeable future are cherished. These are then punctuated by the soft thuds of the kamansi, or breadfruit, falling and breaking open on the lush grass.
Things unfold simultaneously in the garden of Bugaoan’s pieces. One work is a printed image of a kamansi, featuring the unassuming muse of his exhibit. It calls the viewer to inspect what has been revealed from its fall. At the same time, a video work of the artist stripping said muse plays on loop, with the deliberate goal to reveal a core that provides sustenance beneath its prickly exterior.
Another artwork alludes to the hollow husks left by the kamansi. These sculptures are clear punctured bottles in varied sizesshowing a beautiful trace of what once was. A fourth piece draws from the energy of standing in the garden with your bare feet on the grass. We see his manipulation of an inorganic material, mimicking the organic and layered beauty of root systems, in an analogous jumble of greens, blues, and finally yellows.
And as one quietly confronts the interconnectedness of Bugaoan’s pieces, one inevitably falls back to an imagined time with the artist, in the stillness of a garden in Negros, waiting for the sound of another kamansi to fall to the ground.
– Gabi Nazareno, June 2021