Written and photographed
By Jude Bautista
The success of the show is evidence of the true synergy of their relationship. Mimi is able to summarize it well, “We’re the same except that I use objects and he uses images. He composes all these beautiful images. The show is also a representation of all our experiences together too as a couple. The string in the box is Wesley’s route to mine kaya ‘Dalawang Sakay’ ng jeepney. He lives in Sta. Ana I live in Sampaloc. It’s about ‘us’.”
Mimi Tecson and Wesley Valenzuela have come together to interpret their city, experiences and surroundings in an exhibit called ‘Collective Memory’. It runs from April 11-29, 2011 at the Blanc Gallery, Unit 2ECrownTower, 107 HV delaCosta St,SalcedoVillage,Makati. The gallery is almost next door to the Goethe Institute and a corner away from the French Embassy at PacificPlaza.
At first sight there doesn’t seem to be any parallelism between their works but upon deeper inspection you see it. Wesley makes use of silk screen prints while Mimi puts together objects mostly toys. The two artists are currently in a relationship (a phrase popularized by facebook ). The similarities are subtle but are there after one looks at the ‘parts’ which compose their work.
Valenzuela’s ‘Anthology’ (37 x 60 inches) is imposing at the center of the gallery, images of Anime cartoon classic from the 1970’s: Voltes V is printed on one side. The front grill of a Pinoy icon, the jeepney is placed as the Japanese robot’s heart. The complex images almost have a psychedelic feel to them as images of angel wings, electric guitars and a boom box in the middle. Layer upon layer of silk screen images almost overwhelm you. Wesley intended this as homage to the ‘sensory overload’ that a place like Quiapo creates to anyone who goes there.
Mimi Tecson’s ‘Dalawang Sakay’ is a large box filled with hundreds of miniature toys spray painted in grey with a few select pieces in blue. Small wooden grids are structures while the space between them functions as streets. A winding plastic rail is on the frame edge with a panda as a train engine. Tecson is able to create mini universes within her pieces. They are complex with many different parts much like Wesley’s silk screen works.
The two also have very different professional backgrounds. Mimi Tecson is known as a marketing officer at Shangri La Plaza mall. While helping organize the Shang Blockbuster Summer Fashion Installation at Shangri La Plaza, she was also finishing several pieces for this exhibit. Mimi’s mom was concerned with how much time was devoted to the exhibit pieces which were often done after working hours.
Wesley on the other hand used to work as a creative for several multinational ad agencies. One of them was J. Walter Thompson. He said that the discipline in meeting deadlines was very instrumental in getting everything done. All of his pieces were finished in one week total. Mimi’s pieces however, were objects that had to be assembled and took longer to construct.
Mimi admires the work of Hiroshi Fuji, a Japanese artist known for constructing a giant T Rex out of recycled toys. A friend also noticed that her pieces are reminiscent of Joseph Cornell, an American artist who also created sculptures of found objects and open boxes. Although she appreciates the work of these two artists, the inspiration for Tecson’s process and work actually came from her childhood.
She said, “I’d always save my baon to buy small toys I wanted. These are the plastic toys you could find in the palengke (wet market). Mga luto lutoan I had two sacks of that. And I’d drag that around to where ever I was playing like my neighbor’s house. One day I was looking for it only to realize that my mom gave it away to my cousins in Pangasinan. As a 7 year old, I was devastated.” Her fascination for small plastic toys remained with her as a grown up, “At the back of my mind whenever I see small toys I buy them. Now my house is full of toys and my mom can’t do anything about it. (Laughs) Basically that’s how I arrived at my own process for this show.”