The Crack, the Gap, the Alleyway

Pardo de León

27 April - 26 May 2024

Curated by 

27 April - 26 May 2024
The Crack, the Gap, the Alleyway | MO_Space

The Crack, the Gap, the Alleyway

 

Featuring seminal works on loan from a private collection alongside a suite of new paintings, “The Crack, the Gap, the Alleyway” reveals an intrinsic design, a larger theme unfolding over decades within Pardo de León’s body of work.

The title, taken from a triptych in a previous exhibition, calls to mind a succession of voids that invite exploration, tempting oblivion. The namesake work itself, depicting an alien landscape overlaid with an endless mathematical pattern—though cursorily unrelated to the works in the exhibition—serves as a cipher to the enigma at its core.

The earliest work included in the exhibition, an untitled piece from 1986, shows a Caravaggio head in profile, improbably juxtaposed against the familiar checkerboard beltline of a vintage yellow taxicab. Part of the original series of paintings comprising her thesis presentation, it was born of an impetus for reinvention, untethered by either gravity or time.

Characteristic of her early works, the series features images from divergent sources, dissected and recombined as disparate elements with no fixed orientation or logic. Abstracted, these images are excised from their original context and meaning and reanimated in the subconscious, opening channels in our collective memory, charged with visceral suggestions. The resulting compositions were deliberately untitled, left free for interpretation.

Regardless, this particular work has inadvertently been referred to as "Angel and Taxicab,"even though the female image is, in actual fact, not an angel; perhaps because the taxicab detail evokes wings in the mind’s eye.

The Caravaggio head re-emerges larger in work originally intended for a 1989 exhibition in Riga, in what was then Soviet Russia. In this painting, the taxicab detail has been replaced by a colossal frog leaping outward from the canvas. The image of the pickerel frog, lifted from the pages of National Geographic, is another migrant from the thesis paintings of 1986–87. Magnified to even greater proportions the reappropriated images—the frog now projecting from the temple of the Caravaggio head—signify a turn towards the metaphysical and sublime in her personal iconography.

The artist explains that between 1986 and the present, certain images have persistently recurred in her work, and over the years she has recognized these idiosyncrasies as distinctive patterns. In this exhibition, they manifest as keys to the underlying essence and structure of her work.

Frogs resurface as strange bedfellows to her women, sustaining their established roles in counterpoint. The “Black Coat Series” features views of a woman’s torso, appropriated from Titian, cropped to include her lips, bosom, and hands. The euphoric swirls of her early works have softened into sensuous ripples painted with a heightened familiarity, an intimate knowledge, as if she knows these women in the flesh, or as if she were one of them. In harmony, she integrates floor patterns that structurally mimic the women in both composition and palette—a fugue faintly echoed in the pixellations of these ancient mosaics. Interestingly, one of the tile patterns appropriated for the exhibition mirrors the checkerboard motif on the taxicab from 1986. Rendered in a palette of luminous golds, reds, and umbers, the same light suspended in the glazes of Titian appears suffused into the tiles; reincarnated in impasto centuries later in these new paintings.

Patterns form the fabric of existence. Yet it is in the nature of life that patterns unravel. It is curious to note that both the ’86-’87 and ’89 exhibitions were interrupted by twists of fate. The thesis exhibition, initially slated for 1986, was postponed to 1987 due to the first People Power Revolution. The planned ’89 exhibition never transpired because the shipment of works arrived at the time of the Armenian earthquake and got lost amidst the relief goods being sent via Riga. It was a year later that the shipment found its way back home to Manila, and the piece included here has never been exhibited until now.

                                                                               Jet Melencio

In Memoriam

Antonio Adriatico de Leon

Exhibition Documentation

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  • Blue Girl Series (After Titian's Violante)
    Pardo de León
    oil on canvas
    4 x 4 ft.
    2021
  • From The Blue Girl Series
    Pardo de León
    oil on canvas
    4 x 4 ft.
    2023
  • From The Blue Girl Series
    Pardo de León
    oil on canvas
    4 x 4 ft.
    2023
  • From The Blue Girl Series
    Pardo de León
    oil on canvas
    4 x 4 ft.
    2023
  • Blue Girl Series (After Titian's Violante)
    Pardo de León
    oil on canvas
    4 x 4 ft.
    2022
  • Her Hands (After Van der Weyden)
    Pardo de León
    oil on canvas
    4 x 4 ft.
    2021
  • Black Coat
    Pardo de León
    oil on canvas
    3 x 3 ft.
    2024
  • Black Coat
    Pardo de León
    oil on canvas
    3 x 3 ft.
    2024
  • Black Coat Series 1
    Pardo de León
    oil on canvas
    3 x 3 ft.
    2024
  • Black Coat Series 2
    Pardo de León
    oil on canvas
    3 x 3 ft.
    2024
  • Black Coat Series 3
    Pardo de León
    oil on canvas
    3 x 3 ft.
    2024
  • Angel & Taxicab
    Pardo de León
    oil on canvas
    6 x 6 ft.
    1986
  • Stitched Frog
    Pardo de León
    oil on canvas
    8 x 8 ft.
    1988
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Video Catalogue

About the Artist

About the Artists

Pardo de León

Pardo de León

Pardo de Leon’s paintings are reminiscent of the style of the old European Masters, and she is known for her distinctive style of painting marked by a ‘sense of line, gesture, and touch.’ Belonging to a generation of painters whose works are mainly based on found photographic imagery, de Leon approaches painting both intuitively and methodically. Working adeptly in both abstraction and figuration, she confronts conventions in painting through the juxtaposition of images, the layering of different forms and motifs, or by zooming in on particular aspects and details of the subject.

Pardo de Leon graduated with a degree in Painting from the UP College of Fine Arts in 1987. She was a recipient of the CCP Thirteen Artists Award in 1988. She also received a studio residency grant from the Italian-Swedish Cultural Foundation in Venice, Italy in 1999, which was awarded the best show of the year by the state council. De Leon has had numerous solo and group exhibitions at various galleries and museums including the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Finale Art File, MO_Space, Blanc Gallery, Manila Contemporary, Valentine Willie Fine Art, and the Institute of Contemporary Art – La Salle College of the Arts. She currently lives and works in Baguio City.

About the Artists

About the Artist

Pardo de Leon’s paintings are reminiscent of the style of the old European Masters, and she is known for her distinctive style of painting marked by a ‘sense of line, gesture, and touch.’ Belonging to a generation of painters whose works are mainly based on found photographic imagery, de Leon approaches painting both intuitively and methodically. Working adeptly in both abstraction and figuration, she confronts conventions in painting through the juxtaposition of images, the layering of different forms and motifs, or by zooming in on particular aspects and details of the subject.

Pardo de Leon graduated with a degree in Painting from the UP College of Fine Arts in 1987. She was a recipient of the CCP Thirteen Artists Award in 1988. She also received a studio residency grant from the Italian-Swedish Cultural Foundation in Venice, Italy in 1999, which was awarded the best show of the year by the state council. De Leon has had numerous solo and group exhibitions at various galleries and museums including the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Finale Art File, MO_Space, Blanc Gallery, Manila Contemporary, Valentine Willie Fine Art, and the Institute of Contemporary Art – La Salle College of the Arts. She currently lives and works in Baguio City.

Pardo de León

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