FLIRTED WITH YOU ALL MY LIFE
Solo Exhibition by
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Tender interactions, shattering confrontations — Teo Esguerra’s encounters with Death find solemn expression in his latest flirted with you all my life.
In production during his aunt’s final days, Esguerra’s recent series of works were born out of mourning — that is, the experience of prematurely grieving for a loved one, whose existence teeters on a threshold straddling hope and loss, acceptance and regret.
In ‘Frames and Fathers’, grey rectangular frames hang against a despondent landscape. Picturing the waning of life, Esguerra’s photograph captures a tree whose leaves have all but fallen to the ground. The picture frames are hollowed out, as vacuous as the image behind, capturing naught but the tense and troubled processes of forgetting and remembering. Occupants of a life now evacuated, the frames remain mere shells of their presence.
The same photograph serves as the backdrop for ‘Purple Infant’, a scene that carries the condition of being suspended between two states, two planes of existence. Inert, perhaps undecided, the infant hovers above a slab — a cot, a casket, a grave marker, perhaps another picture frame.
Hard tears cascade across grave markers like the shrivelled up fruit or seeds that had pelted down on them. The petals of rose softly embrace, enshrine the body of a pet at rest. The shadow of a Christmas tree, pulled apart, floats among mausoleums. The series wanders in limbo, treading the contiguous states of rest and disconsolation.
The photographs are portraits of the artist, never ready, living in such close proximity to Death’s residence — caught in the grip of life, and in the clutches of mortality. Esguerra’s monochromatic images are visited with the occasional presence of color, but such encounters do not serve to enliven the picture; rather, they illuminate the presence of memories that haunt and hang over us. These painted forms float supernaturally on the photographs — the traces of a presence that has flown, the afterthoughts, the memories that linger, the faint marks of an artist and his attempts to recollect what has passed, to immortalize what has escaped.
flirted with you all my life continues to spring hope, as it holds onto life: the ardent, inextinguishable continuation of the artist’s modal explorations and inquiries into the meaning of our existence — that which lies beyond the dimension of human time.