Navigating through Troubled Water: A Review of Through Troubled Water, for High Times and Love (2016) by Abigail Dionisio

In the recently concluded 2015 – 2016 Philippine Art Awards (PAA), the premiere biennial visual arts competition aspired for by both established and emerging individuals, twenty artists among a total of around 500 participants from different regions of the country stood out with the judges. One of these artists is Bulakenyo Abigail Dionisio, with her piece that won one of the two Awards of Merit, Through Troubled Water, for High Times and Love.

The multimedia nature of using an embroidered canvas on a painted canvas is not something very new, as certain artists, such as fellow Filipina Geraldine Javier, have been employing the method in their practice for some years already. In their use of embroidery, a historically feminine ‘craft’, and merging it with the conventional high-art painting, the artists elevate the status of this ‘workmanship’ into that of artistry. Perhaps, they aim to assert the point that this technique transcends the pragmatic notions about it, and it reaches the state of being an approach to expression.

Entitled Through Troubled Water, for High Times and Love, the artist leaves clues as to the interaction of the two canvases. The image of the wrapped object in the background portrays the troubled ocean waves that challenge the navigation of the embroidered ships on the foreground. The seemingly identical backgrounds for both pieces, and the illustration of a similar ship in both the female and male figures suggests that they are in the midst of the same and related emotional conflict or turmoil. However, the angular difference of the embroidered figures, and perspective difference of the ships therein suggests that they are in two different sides of the coin — that the two figures perceive the situation differently — adding up to the friction of the dilemma. It is curious to envision what will be uncovered upon release of the wringing rope and the ironing out of the creased cloth.

What makes Abigail Dionisio’s work different, compared to majority of the works by Javier, is that of the refusal to box the embroideries inside glass frames. Dionisio’s embroideries are exposed, perhaps with a purpose. It must be that the artist is elegantly highlighting how mandatory the willingness to be vulnerable and the openness to express one’s perspectives are in navigating through moments of emotional trouble. manilaartscene_favicon

Dionisio obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree Major in Advertising Arts from the Bulacan State University  in 2009, the same year she was declared the grand-prize winner in the painting category of the Annual Art Competition at the Art Association of the Philippines.

Abi Dionisio’s recent solo exhibitions include Backbone and Stitches, Gallery Indigo, Bencab Museum, Tuba, Metro Baguio; Whispers in Flow, Artist Space, Ayala Museum, Makati City, and To Have and To Hold, ArtCenter, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City. She has also joined various group exhibition here and abroad. Source: Artist’s Blog

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