Have you ever wondered what it’s like to see an avalanche?
Environmental catastrophes like these can cause massive damage as layers upon layers of snow crash from the side of a mountain.
While we Cebuanos may not experience snow or witness avalanches due to our climate, we all know that natural disasters are unpredictable. With all the struggles one must inevitably face, one must mold himself to survive the ordeals.
This is the concept that Cebuano multi-disciplinary artist Andre Chan brought for his third solo art exhibit, AVALANCHE, held at the Qube Contemporary on January 20, 2023. For this exhibition, Andre showcased his art at the second branch of the Qube Gallery in Mandaue City, working hand-in-hand with other famous creatives to create a multi-sensory experience.
Andre is famous for his abstract paintings, using polymorphic figures that leave their interpretations to the viewer. He had his first solo art exhibit, Metanoia, at the Crossroads branch of the Qube Gallery in 2021.
His unique perspective of art has made him a staple at the famous Cebu art gallery, and he has proudly promoted the Cebu arts industry, even serving as a speaker for his talk on self-expression during the Cebu Art Book Fair in 2022.
THE INSPIRATION FOR THE ART EXHIBIT
The AVALANCHE art exhibit takes inspiration from life’s uncertainties and how powerless we are to control them. The dangerous natural phenomenon is further used as a metaphor for this thought-provoking concept.
Andre wanted to convey that mindfulness is the key to survival and that it’s better than dwelling on negative outcomes.
“I wanted to convey that message that self-defense and vigilance is key,” Andre said.
The text on the wall provided an excerpt of the art exhibit, where a juggernaut wearing heavy armor gets stuck under the snow as he tries to dodge the avalanche.
The depiction served as a reminder for viewers to avoid mental scars as they persist through the many hardships in life.
THE STAGES OF AN AVALANCHE
The AVALANCHE art exhibit is divided into four phases, namely The Fall, The Tundra, The Rise, and The Garden of Eden. Each phase depicts a specific stage in the life cycle of an avalanche, from the crashing of the snow to the regrowth of vegetation.
The first phase is The Fall, which depicts the descent of tremendous energy, as well as the struggle to get out. It shows hopelessness as you run away or force your way out of the heavy layers of snow from above.
The Tundra depicts its aftermath and the persistence of the unceasing difficulty. Andre compares this moment to when trees struggle to grow, but life continues. The moment remains hopeless, however, as victims can only wait for the snow to melt.
As the snow evaporates, The Rise continues the cycle. This phase can be compared to Spring, as the snow melts and vegetation can now be cultivated. This part of the exhibit signifies an opportunity to grow and become better after overcoming life’s struggles.
Finally, The Garden of Eden depicts the world growing back to its original form, with rich flora giving hope for a better day. Andre used more vibrant colors to depict the complete regrowth of everything that was lost during the avalanche.
The Garden of Eden also depicts a circular arc, as nature waits for the cycle to continue.
Andre collaborated with several artists in the Philippines specializing in different media to create a one-of-a-kind experience not just for the viewer’s eyes but his ears as well.
The exhibit’s ambient music was recorded by local experimental producer One Floor. Rather than using traditional musical instruments, the exhibitors used everyday items like mixing bowls to create the sounds.
Andre also worked with Manila-based photographer Wilmark Jolindon on a surrealist photoshoot. Wilmark’s photos depict a man in an all-white suit coming out of a large pool of powder to depict the large volume of snow.
A small bed of white powder can be seen on the right side of the gallery, with the mask of the all-white suit emerging from it. The pictures were also put on the wall next to the display.
In an Instagram post, Andre said it symbolizes how a normal human’s death can resurrect them into an invincible juggernaut. The snow that buries a man alive is depicted in the suit, which was designed by renowned fashion designer Imma.
Finally, the art exhibit showcased a unique sculpture called “White Death.” Placed between The Rise and The Garden of Eden phases, it depicts the snow’s movement during an avalanche, as well as the subsequent shrouding of the mountain.
This unique piece of art made out of mylar film and parchment paper was designed by another Cebu-based artist, Chini Lichangco.
The Cebu arts industry has continued to flourish and has brought in countless exhibitions showcasing the massive pool of Cebuano talent.
Andre Chan is just one of the many famous contemporary artists in the Philippines, bringing his brand of abstract art to a wider audience. An art exhibit like AVALANCHE points the lens to the struggles of unpredictability, highlighting the essence of how life imitates art.
Andre will continue his pursuit of quality art exhibits, as he believes that art brings meaning to many of the uncertainties we face in this world.
“Art develops this deeper understanding of what life is. It doesn’t give an answer, but it gives context to what we’re doing in this world.” Andre’s comment on the importance of art in the modern age.