Chati Coronel: The Infinite Yes

Arts and Culture
Schedule/Venue
Silverlens Gallery
Pasong Tamo Ext.
2320 Pasong Tamo Ext., , Makati
Metro Manila, Philippines

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About the Event

SILVERLENS is pleased to announce Chati Coronel’s seventh solo exhibition with the gallery, The Infinite Yes. In this series of large new works, Coronel has assembled a suite of vibrantly coloured panels that reference creation myths from around the world and their recognizable leitmotifs: first woman and man; contact with the human and the divine; order out of chaos. Also alluded to are myths less familiar to us, stories of worlds summoned from dreams, song or the gut. All are executed through layered sweeps of underpaint with a silhouette as acting as a final coat - a window to an interior world; a portal to a dimension beyond. Simultaneously this multiple layering also evokes the possibility of existence of multiple universes, tracing a line over the limits of what we think we know. 

The Infinite Yes

How did the world come to be? Almost every culture out there has its own creation story as an answer to this mystery. From the Ainus of Japan to the Zunis of New Mexico, there are hundreds of creation myths seeking to explain how the world began and became what it is. These ancient stories have fascinated us through time, carefully kept across generations through oral tradition and text. As one scholar has written, these myths are so integral to our identities that perhaps it is “the most important story any culture can tell.” It is these that form the frame of Chati Coronel’s latest exhibition of paintings at Silverlens, The Infinite Yes. 

It comes as no surprise that artists are curious about creation stories. The creative process after all is the engine of their profession. The best of them can deftly craft entity out of scarcity, and breathe order into a seemingly disparate pile of chaos. Coronel for her part was able to assemble a suite of vibrantly coloured panels out of these creation myths matched with key figures from history and storied works of art as source material.

A natural springboard is the origin of the first woman and man, and indeed several paintings use them as a reference. The Landscape Becomes You is one. But Coronel is less concerned about what we have been in our past, and more with what we can be. Dear Nikola, for instance, is an asymmetrical diptych inspired by Nikola Tesla, a brilliant inventor known for ideas way ahead of his time. Across the two-paneled plane we see a progression of figures, suggesting the evolution of our species, culminating with Tesla, which is treated here as a kind of a last Adam.

Successive paintings meanwhile are framed around another leitmotif found in creation stories - the contact between the human and the divine. Leda and the Swan takes its cue from a lost Michelangelo painting featuring a crouching Leda and the Greek god Zeus in the form of a swan. Meanwhile The Infinite Yes - the work headlining the show - alludes to the story of Joan of Arc, whose affirmative response to visions of saints paved way to a life of service and military victory. \

Among the most striking in the series is the Trinity: Universal Human, a triptych informed by a medieval Flemish tapestry, The Lady and the Unicorn. Here Coronel depicts the virgin finally capturing the elusive mythic animal, taming it by showing its own power through its own reflection. The image is a metaphor to the struggle of artists when they attempt to channel creative flow.

Completing the cycle are paintings that allude to myths less familiar to us, stories of worlds summoned from dreams, song or the gut. These include We Fall Up Into Ourselves, a large panel which depicts four sleeping figures in repose, one over the other, floating, drifting in space, evoking different levels of altered State.

Layering too defines how the artist has achieved these images. One can say that each canvas is a summary of the sweeps of underpaint that came onto the canvas as line, text or figuration before receiving a final coat. This last layer is always a silhouette of a familiar figure - Michelangelo’s Adam, Eve, the virgin - that acts like a window to an interior world or a portal to a dimension beyond.

This layering technique also evokes the notion that the multiplicity of creation stories out there suggests the not-too-far-fetched possibility of universes different from but co-existing alongside our own. Universes that shake our belief on the singularity of nature, whilst tracing a line that demarcates the limits of what we think we know.

-Irwin Cruz

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