The mystical, magical moments of Nasser Lubay

AT a young age, Nasser Lubay had gone already to places abroad usually reserved for maturing artists. In 2009 he won the prestigious Celeste International Art Prize. That winning work, titled 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 his return to the Philippines after the residency, Nasser was chosen to be one of Jollibee’s Young Ambassadors, cited for his achievements in the arts.

It is, therefore, a good news for our small art world that Lubay has notched new impressive achievements again. Two of his paintings received international notices: one, called Mirror, was included in 1340, a curated art magazine based in the Netherlands; the other with quite a ponderous title, Glimpse Into Transcendence, was exhibited in the Florence Biennale 2017.

His first one-man show (which I reviewed for BusinessMirror on May 23, 2016) attracted me first because of its title, Nursery of Curiosities.

One thing with this artist is he gives labels that work, as they not so much influence you as guide you, inspire you to look further with an art that serves as a map.

Mirror remains the representation of what the artist refers to as “psychedelic” (splendor). The piece does not ask you to look for your reflection. The canvas is dense, already full of shapes and forms from which you can choose what is mirrored of you. There is no need to complain: The painting is an excess of presences, though not excessive. The artist has painted the mirror and what he feels you can find as yourself or your “selves.” He indulges us: There are semblances of human parts: a set of teeth there, a mouth and loose limbs. There are also the non-human: blue skies and clouds, patterns, lines that go somewhere and nowhere. In other words, this is just the right kind of mirror for the man thinking of what the day holds for himself as he looks at the mirror conjured not created by the artist.

In Glimpse Into Transcendence, Lubay gives us a wide space. There are still the forms and shapes but they seem to have a bigger field to live in, and a volume of meanings to dissipate. But, as in his earlier works, there are two ways to enjoy Lubay’s art. We can examine the forms, the lines, colors and textures and then proceed to look for those that we can recognize as belonging to our world. In Glimpse…, we see the recurring eyes disembodied and are now flailing from their roots. There are floras abundant but they seem to be bigger than they should be. Recognizable—and giving us a jolt—are three dark-red objects: they are objects now as we cannot call them human yet, in curled, foetal position. What unites these figures and formations is this long, strong blue nerve coming out of a box flowing past the phantasms, exiting the frame to the left and exiting through upper-left area, ignoring a fat rainbow on its side.

Nasser Lubay is a master storyteller; he narrates using all the colors of the world. As with all stories that are told, heard and are gone unless told again, the art of Lubay has that feeling of a moment, that mystical, magical point in space remarkable for its lack of permanence. 

Writer: Tito Genova Valiente