Sunday, 27 March 2011

0014 The Philippine Star, Posters from Cesare, April 2007

ZOETROPE By Juaniyo Arcellana
Publication Date: [Monday, April 16, 2007]

The "axman" cometh sometimes in the mail, courtesy of a series of poster invites to this or that gathering, across town about town, in Mag:net Katips, along the old Reposo in Bel-Air near the Alliance Française, at the CCP, last remnant of an edifice complex by the bay.

The name’s Cesare A.X. Syjuco, and he’s been painting the city red with his art and varied literary hybrids, sundry homonyms in progress, armed with guitar and vodka, lines rhythmic á la Robert Fripp. He’s King Crimson come to life, a dream in red with wife Jean Marie and daughters Maxine and Trix in tow. Since we haven’t found time to go to these gatherings, and having more than a passing acquaintance to Cesare the artist enfant terrible, through the first "Chromatext" exhibits more than 20 years ago in Pinaglabanan Galleries in San Juan to his recent extrapolations on poster and canvas and then some that made us sort of a fan of his, maybe it could serve us in good stead to take a closer look at these invite foldouts that boggle the mind.

"She is parallel to her rectum at all times... unwavering in resolve.," featuring a blond babe arching her back against the backdrop of a sleek car’s opened door is very Cesare, and announces a series of changing small showcase installations at the Poet’s Alcove in Mag:net Katipunan, curated by Jean Marie in a space conceived by Krip Yuson and Rock Drilon. The western symbol of the blond may have references to Dylan ("Blond on Blond"?), but the rectum aspect is, shall we say, universally anal. Rather Freudian and American rock and roll it is too, what with the tipping of the hat to sex and fast cars and pretty women. Only the lonely, as they say, can seek solace in such art.

Next up: "He’s out there somewhere., :If we could find him we could kill him... then there’d be no one to kill us., :If we could find him he wouldn’t be out there.," is part of his "Mighty Big Headstand" of brand new literary hybrids. The poster itself was designed by Maxine, who incidentally was named after a Donald Fagen (late of Steely Dan) song from the album "The Nightfly." A group of four outcasts or possible mutants from the Mickey Mouse club are gathered atop a stone staircase overlooking a bleak brown landscape, resembling more Middlesbrough than Marikina. The mysterious fab four could be refugees of the ersatz avant-garde group Faust, deprived of their instruments, and so also possibly devoid of funk. What abstract philosophies are found on those very steps of stone? Let Jung go hang, hunghang.
"Let’s talk about the anti-Christ., :It looks like a dog to me., :Don’t let that fool you, stupid.," is the text for the poster of "Homonyms of Recent History," a site-specific installation of Cesare’s newly expanded work at the Ricco-Renzo Gallery, LRI Business Plaza on Nicanor Garcia Street, Makati which opened on March 22 with live poetry performances by the usual suspects. Pictured is a relatively healthy mutt with spots, but not a Dalmatian, more like an askal with a fancy hat on. I guess we could call it the artist’s Lenten exhibit in a dog-eat-dog world, where one man’s meat is another man’s murder, and so on and so forth, bring that Fripp-fropp guitar on again.

Then finally, "Word of Mouth," a series of photographic self-portraits by Maxine that served as an invite to the closing of the "Chromatext Reloaded" exhibit of the Philippine Literary Arts Council last February at CCP, subtitled "Mouth Over Matter" and featuring Maxine with different likenesses of mouths pasted over her mouth, the real, ever omnipresent but alas, unseen one. By the poster alone, one could tell that PLAC turned yet another chapter in its existence and that of the art world with the latest "Chromatext," and only goes to show that all lines and labels blur in the advent of self-expression, in this case, a drawing of a mouth that could as well be reciting poetry. The surreality of it all extends the imagination into what, but an imitation of life.
I saw Cesare last year during the 25th anniversary get-together of PLAC at founding member Jimmy Abad’s hillside home in Antipolo, where the spirits flowed and the Ax artist documented the proceedings with Jean Marie on handy videocam. Cesare was in his element to say the least, chunking out those guitar riffs while the poets recited their verses to the rain and wind and sumptuous food. The words almost sounded superfluous, no offense to the poets, but David Byrne could have been reciting his "Imelda" libretto and the effect would have been the same. Picture Cesare Ax with his toothless grin, swigging vodka and playing his guitar with the same rhymic hammering he did 20 years ago on the walls of Pinaglabanan. And I thought, since this guy whose shyness is criminally vulgar is not in a straitjacket, he must be a genius of intertextual art. Either, or.

Source: The Philippine Star 

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