In his solo exhibition, FLOM, acronym for “for love or money,” Bembol Dela Cruz interrogates the power—and limits—of belief accorded to things inflected with symbolic value. In a suite of paintings depicting defective and rejected icons, which still bear their divine features and countenance, the artist dares to ask what psychological and emotional leap the beholder undertakes in order to conceptually transform them into objects of veneration and devotion. Is it the medium, gestured at by the hollow blocks, with one painted in gold, which has long been the color of divinity? Is it the form of the work? Is it the transformative labor of the artist? Or is it something quite intangible, which circulates within the field the object inhabits, such as the realm of religion with all its difficult histories?
By asking these questions within the tradition of faith, Dela Cruz extends the scrutiny to the realm of art itself, whose conception of beauty is amorphous and ambiguous at once. In the heated atmosphere of the contemporary art scene, where many players are exerting their say and influence, what will make an artist’s work command such fastidious and abiding belief? What makes an art object “worthy” enough to be believed in the first place? Is it remaining true to the fire of his vision (with the real possibility of ending up with unsold, rejected works) or will he allow whatever forces—market or otherwise—to take him wherever they blow? Ultimately, Dela Cruz reignites the conversation on the opposing pull of commerce and creativity, exposing the fissure between peso and passion, between currency and integrity, between love and money. (Carlomar Arcangel Daoana)
Faith and Love I, Bembol Dela Cruz, 2020, Oil on canvas, 30×24 in
Faith and Love II, Bembol Dela Cruz, 2020, Oil on canvas, 30×24 in
Faith and Love III, Bembol Dela Cruz, 2020, Oil on canvas, 30×24 in
Faith and Love IV, Bembol Dela Cruz, 2020, Oil on canvas, 30×24 in
Faith and Love V, Bembol Dela Cruz, 2020, Oil on canvas, 30×24 in
Banal, Bembol Dela Cruz, 2019, Oil on canvas, 48×36 in