The Veils: Passing Prayers • Pardo De Leon

Nov 11 to Dec 4, 2014 • Upstairs Gallery

“I paint in order not to cry.”
—Paul Klee

Engaging in reworking as remembrance, Pardo de Leon presents an exhibition of new paintings based on the late Roberto Chabet’s Head Collages: a series of works produced in the late 1980s.

Collage has been part of Chabet’s artistic output since the 1960s: a form that has seamlessly spanned both the formalist and the conceptual aspects of his practice. Finding solace in painting as a way of coming to terms with Chabet’s passing in 2013, de Leon faithfully recreates several of his collage on paper works, re-exhibited in recent years. She then alters them through the addition of disparate and symbolic elements: in the ensuing works, an inverted tree—alluding to the origin of divinity—intersects with Chabet’s paper patterns; ornate cruciforms rest on flat planes of envelopes, left open; a labyrinth deliberate cuts through and leaves its mark on empty, random space.

In this series, De Leon approaches painting as prayer: a way of committing to the visual what remains unsaid and unspoken. By going over and reworking found images from Chabet’s existing archive of collages, de Leon subtly creates interventions in the existing compositions. By instinctively using muted metaphors and personal symbols, she revisits and reconnects with what remains of the past—akin to resuming where a conversation left off or creating new memories from existing ones.

Chabet once acknowledged the element of nostalgia in his collage works, pointing out how its various components such as paper may vanish while its found photographs may again find themselves in other collages, in the due passage of time. De Leon quietly takes off from these reflections, setting into motion a new cycle of persistence and rebirth.

—Lisa Ito