Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Art and Poetry of Agang Maganda

Art and Poetry of Agang Maganda

by Gary C. Devilles
Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 02, 2009 (Monday)

SURREALISTS are closet romantics because they actually espouse the radicalness of imagination above and beyond rationality: They find inspiration in nature’s raw articulation of power.

In the case of Agang Maganda in his latest exhibit in Botong’s Up Resto Bar at A. Venue Mall, Makati Avenue (across Great Eastern Aberdeen Court; tel. 7560346 or 09178941405), surrealism fuses with the artist’s romantic poetry.

“Binhing Idlip” is a classic depiction of sleep and dreamscape where the blue window seems to float in the air, along with sprouts, seeds and smoke that happen to be Agang’s signature motifs.

In his poetry, Agang talks about this strange whisper of water (“umihip ang tubig”), which seems to ebb and flow not in rivers but at night in quiet contemplation of space and horizon (“sa payapang dilim, sa pusod ng langit, at kalawakan”).

Perhaps Agang is telling us that such whisper is audible only for our inner ears, when we learn to trust more our intuition rather than our sense experience and reason.

Similarly, “Binhing Kubli” is a depiction of our natural space for dreaming and respite: kubli, which is Tagalog for “concealment,” can be an allusion to what is invisible in the natural world. Hence, his poem talks about the invisible space between thought and anxiety (“pugad ng isipan at panaghoy”), where we experience an overwhelming trepidation as if throwing ourselves in the vast space of the universe (“pagkabigla sa kawalan”).

Bedroom as the very space of the imagination is tackled in the poetry of “Binhing Sulyap.” The room becomes the persona that invites readers and viewers to come in (“paa’y marahang tumapak sa iyong pagsulyap”) and revel on fantasy and dreams (“kawalang muwang tanong lagi sa isipan”).

The recurring images of floating seeds, pods, shells and translucent mirage of familiar places in Agang’s works become archetypal in communicating not only a sense of beginning, since the Tagalog word binhi connotes germination, but also fortitude and inner strength that come with openness to the realm of the unconscious.

“Binhing Bagwis” produces the same vertigo effect, as if the gust has made everything desolate and windswept and an ominous storm has come and all that man can do is to look inside, trust his psyche, and be prepared for the end of times.

There is always something spiritual in the works of surrealists and Agang is not an exception. They may be critical of religious institutions but they are advocates of an old form of spirituality, one that seeks to be in harmony with nature and all living things, one that speaks the ancient language of dreams and fantasies.

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