GERALDINE JAVIER : MUSEUM OF MANY THINGS
Curated by Tony Godfrey
Valentine Willie Fine Art, Singapore
5 – 26 November 2011
Valentine Willie Fine Art Singapore presents Geraldine Javier's concluding exhibition of a 2011 trilogy of exhibitions that had Nature as a theme. Whereas the first two that took place earlier in the year, at Finale Gallery Manila and Arario Gallery, Seoul were imagined as a garden and as a series of bible stories, her Singapore exhibition is a combination of two museums. One is a personal one imagined and created by her: made of her own paintings, objects and installations, such a museum is, as she says, "about display, about filling the space with dead specimens and dressing them up to make them seem alive, but it is also a personal process, simultaneously emptying out and remembering." The other presents the last few remaining parts of a museum made in the early half of the twentieth century by a creole woman who apparently left Europe because of a scandal and who, after travelling through the islands of South East Asia settled on one of the smaller islands of the Philippines archipelago. Sadly, the museum itself, long neglected and pillaged, has ceased to exist. Enough objects, mainly of natural history, still exist however to partially recreate a museum that was, although scientific in intention, also a very personal collection. Geraldine's inclusion of this other museum is her homage to a woman who, despite her tragic life, committed herself to collecting and making beautiful things.
Javier writes, "For several years I've been painting dead people and I have tried to paint them as if they're alive, I have also tried to capture in my paintings the follies of man, one of which is the search for happiness - a search which will forever be elusive, except for those lucky few who simply and humbly accept what is offered to them. Nature as a theme in contemporary art is difficult to navigate because one is always at risk of being simplistically pleasant - making pretty landscape and animal pictures. I believe nature is more profound than that: it heals but it can also wound and kill. I chose to create my version of a museum of natural history as a fitting end to the trilogy of solo shows because, as much as it is about display and filling the space with dead specimens and dressing them up to make them more alive, it is also a personal process, an act of emptying. Like memories with souvenirs and skeletons to remind you of events, this museum is also about man-made disasters, some that come out of basic needs, some are unforeseen result of that needs and wants, it's about many things...”
The recent discovery of this early twentieth century museum of natural history and ethnography, along with the story of the woman who made it has been a further inspiration to her. With its combination of museum display cases, paintings of sheep fleeing a conflagration and of bleeding trees, cow skulls covered with embroidery and many other objects this is a visually rich and visionary exhibition. In a video that relates the discovery of this little known museum from the twentieth century one curator comments that as well as being a collection of objects "a museum is also a state of mind." So is this exhibition.
Tony Godfrey has been writing on and curating contemporary art since 1979. His most recent book was Painting Today (Phaidon 2009). Since moving to Singapore in 2009 he has worked with several artists from East and South East Asia. He is currently Director of Research at Sotheby's Institute.
Geraldine Javier : Museum of Many Things runs from 5 – 26 November 2011 at
Venue: Valentine Willie Fine Art, Singapore
Address: ARTSPACE@Helutrans, 39 Keppel Road
Tanjong Pagar Distripark, #02-04, Singapore 089065
Telephone: +65 81331760
Gallery Hours: Tue - Sat 11am to 7pm. Sun 11am to 3pm.
Closed on Mondays and public holidays.
Geraldine Javier : Museum of Many Things is in partnership with the Philippines Embassy in Singapore and a partner programme of Philippine Art Trek V.
Geraldine Javier is an artist with a keen interest in the unusual and the macabre. Creating multi-faceted works that combine contrasting materials and philosophies, she utilises and questions imagery and ideas from contemporary culture. Initially trained as a nurse, Geraldine's emergence as a practising artist was completed in 1997, when she obtained her Bachelor's in Fine Arts, majoring in Painting, from the University of Philippines, Diliman.
A recipient of the Cultural Centre of the Philippines (CCP) 13 Artists award in 2003, Geraldine has gone on to exhibit widely both in her native Philippines and internationally. Her recent solo exhibitions include “In the Beginning…” at Arario Gallery, Seoul, South Korea (2011) and, “Butterfly’s Tongue” at West Gallery, Quezon City, Philippines (2009). In 2009, she participated in “South East Blooming” with Primo Marella Gallery in Milan and Beijing, whilst also participating in the Prague Biennale 2009, and was shown at the Singapore Art Museum as part of “Thrice Upon A Time: A Century of Story in the Art of the Philippines” during the same year.
Geraldine Javier's works display a unique, intellectually engaging sensitivity, balancing pictorially dense subject matters with the delicacy and fine workmanship of her embroidery and tatting; forming beauty out of the strange, the macabre and, the taboo.