Nasser Lubay's Hues of Innocence
Review by: Tito Valiente
May 23, 2016
BY what rule to do we equate the brightest of hues to childhood and innocence?
The works of Nasser Lubay tremble, coagulate, drip and coruscate with color, unashamedly, freely consuming all the available shades and tones, tasking us to reconsider the greatly pervasive sense that less is more. But the painter puts his works under the label “Nursery of Curiosities.” With that heading—actually the title of his solo show—the artist sort of takes our hand back to images ofbeginnings, not of the primal kind but of the temporal, that place in the home where humans are initiated into the world.
The stereotypes of pastel, the sound of tinkling bells and the comfort both of solace and security are all found in a nursery. But this is simply just not a nursery; it is a nursery of curiosities—the “infant” asking, disputing the world out there.
In Morning, a garden heralds the beginning of the day, with a bloom not red but brown, protruding from a blue soil, the color of decay becoming that of fresh growth. Outstanding within the frame is the head of a horse-like animal, a horn protruding to make it a unicorn, the animal of the fleetingly discovered and vanished. A tiny head with antenna continues the appearance of insects; a fat larva with the most pleasant green stripes completes the zoology against the backdrop of a cluster of petals in powder blue and white leaning against a wall of old rose.
The painting Drop could as well be “Eye-Drop,” as a huge eye sheds tears—or raindrops—that have eyes in them! The scene is a charming cosmos as the eyes pass through patterns of clouds that are painted the way a scenarist would of clouds to dot the stage for a children’s program, only to plunge into the blueness of a sea or another body of water. Patterns abound in this work where metaphors merge with the merely decorative and the quietly disturbing.
Mirror is a phantasmagoria of twists and turns, of shapes and sinews, oftextures and contours. Reflect (as in look and not meditate) upon it and find anything you wish to find. Stand back far and you can conjure a leopard (I did) that, instead of spots, now sports more curlices and colors to make it singular. Are those sponges or snakes? Do I see worms or long petals of an ancient plant? Suit yourself: This is a mirror. Of life or of dreams? Feel free to look.
The narrative of the nursery peaks in Soul, for indeed the nursery of Nasser Lubay is no more of innocence than of existence. The tropics, the wild vegetation, provide the locale of the artist’s metaphysics as he narrates for us where the soul roams—not in the gray ether but in the forest of organic possibilities, amid the lush flora and fauna where the spirit of the indigene does not go heaven but crosses the river, there to live and not to die, in full, to borrow the artist’s word, “psychedelic” splendor.
Visual artist Nasser Lubay is the only Filipino to have won at the prestigious Celeste International Art Prize by way of his outstanding work in 2009, titled Rebirth. In the same year, Rebirth was exhibited at the Second Animamix Biennial at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei, Taiwan. He was part of the 2010 Ondarte International Artist Residency in Akumal, Mexico. Upon returning to the Philippines Nasser was chosen to be one of Jollibee’s Young Ambassadors, cited for his achievements in the arts.
In 2015 he did the interactive visuals in the critically acclaimed performance art production Ginugunita Kita, staged at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Nasser has also collaborated with some of the most notable artists in the Philippines, including photographers, composers, dancers and actors. He is a cofounder of the Artist Playground, an arts and performance company.
The exhibit is ongoing at the Arte Pintura Gallery at The Address, Wack Wack Condominium, Wack Wack Road, Mandaluyong City.