Roberto Chabet (1937-2013), known as the Father of Philippine Conceptual Art, is highly regarded for his experimental works, ranging from paintings, drawings, collages, sculptures, and installations.
This exhibition is comprised of a series of artworks that manage to break away from the rigid formalisms of modernism and demonstrate Chabet’s insistence on a more inclusive approach to art, a key aspect to the importance of Chabet’s practice in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. This is suggested in To Be Continued, wherein utilitarian and provisional plywood boards function simultaneously as object and surface. Completed in collaboration with Chabet’s former students including Louie Cordero, Nona Garcia, Maria Taniguchi, Ringo Bunoan, Mawen Ong, and MM Yu, among others, whom Chabet tasked to paint 10 panels of plywood by using and mixing red, blue and yellow paint (the emblematic colors of modernism), To Be Continued, is an exercise that questions the state of painting. Their collective effort was exhibited in The Cultural Center of the Philippines in 2012 after being shown at Osage gallery in 2011.
Another seminal series in Chabet’s practice, the China Collage Series (1985-86) will be featured. The series consists of over hundreds of ‘L’ shaped panels, originally maps of China, Mongolia and Korea, covered in layers of torn printed materials. The series is part of Chabet’s exploration into collage as a technique; described by Chabet as his “picture morgue”, the China Collage Series is a reflection of his interpretation of the modernist spirit. For Chabet who spent his childhood moving frequently and fleeing air raids and bombs during WW2, the mechanics of collage illustrate the memory of catastrophe and destruction that he witnessed. Collage is also a tactic in the fight against fixed definitions, he claimed: “Misplaced, displaced, dislocated, and relocated in new contexts, the objects demand new readings, new meanings. They have become dream objects – perhaps, dreams themselves.”
The exhibition also features Imagined Geographies (2011), a series of Chabet’s drawings that manifest an internal volatility, a precariousness that can be seen in the quivering pencil lines that delineate and demarcate spaces to create fluid, ambiguous field that points to an elsewhere.
These artworks are now a precious legacy and resource for those interested in the history of conceptual art in Southeast Asia, as well as continuous inspiration for the global art scene to explore alternative forms and ways of thinking.
The presentation will coincide with Art Basel in Hong Kong, at which Osage is presenting Cargo and Decoy (1989/2010), a plywood installation by Roberto Chabet in the Encounters sector at 1E03.