Handmade Violence (Manila) • Bembol Dela Cruz

Sep 4 to Sep 29, 2014 • Upstairs Gallery

Bembol Dela Cruz takes to the gun out of fear. He faces it as if in trembling. And he cannot bring himself to touch it, let alone pull the trigger. But his art confronts it, nevertheless. Such a confrontation assumes two forms. The first one enables him to actually fire the gun so that the desired mark or inscription on the metal sheet is realized unerringly, with the exit points forming the words “abusive,” “anger,” “paranoia,” and “sadistic” in Braille mode. The second form is painting, the vocation of the artist. His practice has been honed in the tension between a certain hyperrealism and tromp l’oeil, on the one hand, and the inclination to hint at the illusion and its disguise, on the other. These two forms of relationship with the gun condense between psychology and place. The artist asks users of unlicensed guns, most of which are improvised, to describe their guns. They are inmates in a prison in Manila. While they go about the narration, or the lore of the object, Dela Cruz translates and transposes the description into a sketch, a “cartographic sketch,” as it were. It is the gun that assumes a criminal face, conjured by the account of its user.

Patrick Flores