Artists JC Jacinto and Zean Cabangis meditate on the ebb and flow relationship between a person and a place. The acts of observing, discovering, documenting and constructing their surroundings become an act of blurring the lines between space and being. The immersion in a place becomes an immersion of thought, and within these thoughts, new places are formed.
JC Jacinto invents places that his mind wishes to inhabit, creating paintings loosely based on images of crystals as seen through a digital microscope. The miniature landscapes inside these crystals defy physics and other laws of nature, some elements floating, crudely put together, with no organized direction. Following characteristics in nature, with the least intrusion possible, he reshapes his landscapes, removing orientation and randomizing perspectives. Jacinto’s interest in the internal structures of crystals stems from his ongoing fascination with a search for balance in the human-nature-universe dynamic. His past works investigate and experiment with fossilized wood, plastiglomerates, mycelium and bio waste. Through the study of naturally occurring changes, he reflects on his sense of being and thought as intrinsically linked to participation in a place, never a singular entity existing on its own. Jacinto recently built a second home in the countryside as an attempt to actualize this theory: “I wanted to create a version of myself as a space: me as a literal piece of land, constantly evolving with nature’s assistance.”
Whilst Jacinto’s work gazes down into the rocks, the landscapes of Zean Cabangis appear to be focused upward onto the trees. Cabangis’ latest body of work departs from his more geometrically arranged mixed media collages of printed transfer images; mainly of manmade structures and landscapes cropped and scaled in varying degrees. His latest series is almost devoid of manmade structures and is dominated by more painterly techniques. In recent years, he relocated from a studio in the middle of a gritty, overpopulated and overbuilt urban area to one deeper into the lush tropical countryside, where he often cycles and explores the terrain. He traverses dark and dense jungles, through which pinpricks of light shine through, abuzz with tiny life forms, nature’s energy glowing and pulsating. His paintings, albeit still layered with photo transfers, have grown more abstract and expressive, capturing the flow of windblown trees and leaves, as if moving without pause, walking while thinking, in directions led purely by curiosity and instinct.
As the artists respond to their physical environments, they simultaneously build internal worlds as mysterious and unfathomable as their natural surrounding, becoming one with it. As Jacinto muses, “I started to look at the body as a home, a vessel that we occupy temporarily. And from there I realized that actual places are not too different from our bodies after all. Places are not just concrete, wood and steel beams, just as we are not only flesh, skin and bone. Places can store information too… (They) are living, and our relationship with them goes beyond shelter and function. Places can mold us as much as (another person) would.”
– Stephanie Frondoso
Zean Cabangis (b. 1985 in Tayabas, PH) is a Filipino contemporary artist whose practice combines photographic documentation and painting to create multi-layered works which explore interconnections within the mundane. Through emulsification, Cabangis transfers images from photographs he takes during bike rides on to canvas. He intentionally takes rides without purpose or destination and asks himself, “Where am I going?” Repeatedly and without arriving at an answer. It is through his production that connects his physical body to representative imagery. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting at College of Fine Arts, University of the Philippines. Having won the prize of Most Outstanding Thesis of 2006, he graduated from his BFA program in 2007. Cabagnis has had solo exhibitions at Artinformal, Silverlens, and Now Gallery in Manila, Philippines. He has also participated in group exhibitions at Gravity Art Space; Salud Bistro Gallery; Blan Gallery; Kaida Gallery; Cubao Expo; and The Cultural Center of the Philippines among others. Furthermore, he has received recognition for his work through the Ateneo Art Awards, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and University of the Philippines. Zean Cabagnis lives and works in Laguna, Philippines.
JC Jacinto (b. 1985 in Pasig, PH) is a Filipino contemporary artist whose practice explores the human to universe dynamic by making references to organic material as well as the context in which these may be found. In his practice, Jacinto has been slowly moving from painting mostly organic subjects to using actual organic materials for his new take on painting. His interest in the autonomous life of rocks, trees, and minerals and their inherent capacity to record their lives and the passage of time figure prominently in recent works such as in his twin exhibitions I Skip Stones Across Eons (2019) at Artinformal and The Arrow That Pierced Time (2020) at Taipei Dangdai in Taiwan. He received his arts education from the University of the Philippines. In 2014, he completed a residency at the Abu Dhabi Art Hub. In 2019, Jacinto was shortlisted for his show, A Crack in Everything for the Fernando Zobel Prize in the Ateneo Art Awards.