2016, Paseo Gallery
Dreaming for better societies is dubbed “utopianism” coined from Thomas More (1478–1535). Though there are critics against it, some say it is essential to elicit hope and desire—the agents of change. As Oscar Wilde illustriously put it, "A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realization of utopias”. No wonder the English-speaking world and non-westerners are replete with utopian literatures. Hoping for an ideal world is not a scapegoat for the weak: it is evidence of the higher nature of man who can transcend beyond the material universe and has the capacity to live according to his original design. We do not just muse for the unreal; we believe in paradise—at least in the afterlife. Our faith can make utopia real beyond explanation and it demands no complex reasons.
“Cutopia”, as the artist intends in this show, is a declaration of being. Geovanni Abing wittily cuts his utopia as he transforms from a food technologist into a full-time collage artist. After three years in his artistic journey with three solo shows rendered, he avers: “We create our own utopia”. His version--to quit a secure job and be himself--may be misunderstood because it can deprive him of economic security, but he bravely designs and glues his well-being. And he seems strategic while he shows pertinacity-- a promising artist who accelerates fast through shows and art fairs as he has overcome stereotypes and labels.
As the artist presents his fourth solo, we note his penchant for portrait subjects with a twist to convey meaning. The artworks of Abing, in this exhibit, still reveal surreal faces with necks and shoulders forcing out symbols of pop culture. But this time, the eyes of his portraits protrude cityscapes which he uses to symbolize one’s dream of perfection. Made of Lego blocks, they suggest that building and changing one’s “world” is a doable task just like what a child does with the plastic toy. However, there can be paradoxes about the issue. As some would aspire of changing the world, they meet a complex tangle: remove a corrupt group and another one comes in; save a species and the hunters find another species to kill. What Abing could be saying is that we can initiate a change in our own “universe”; if we change ourselves, a new milieu dawns. Very few of us can change societies but we can make a difference to individuals and groups. The sentiments that the artist want to convey in his collages are universal. He draws his influence from Japanese culture, general pop and street art.
We share with Abing’s aspiration as each of us wants to carve our own world where we really fit.
Lucell Larawan, Art Critic