Underneath the Sky • Yasmin Sison

Dec 2 to Dec 31, 2011 • Upstairs Gallery

Underneath the Sky is a suite of poignant portraits of children dear to the artist: family, nieces, a friend’s daughter. Rendered in oil on canvas, a medium that Sison has always wielded with grace and technical mastery, the young girls solemnly gaze back at the viewer. Seated on stiff chairs and holding animal masks, they seem to look puzzled, questioning, and confronting the unseen trespasser in their silent, enclosed realm. The paintings are surrounded by several apothecary jars, adorned with crocheted spores, seeds, and plants.

The show recalls Sison’s earlier series on children, such as Gingerbread Girls, her solo show four years ago in 2007 at Finale’s defunct SM Megamall space. The paintings point to the fragile, transient nature of youth. The masks, now a motif in many of her paintings, denote wisdom and play, cleverness and mystery: they are signs marking the various transformations and transitions in life. Childhood, the most fleeting of times, holds a sense of magic, poignancy and mystery which Sison captures in her works with strong and precise grace. The portraits are simultaneously a representation of others and self: her representation of childhood as a transitory time and a resonance of her own emotions and apprehensions as a mother herself. Children, spores, and seeds will never be contained, Sison eloquently writes. The freedom connoted in the show’s title poses an irony against the enclosed spaces of Sison’s portraits: a tension that simultaneously speaks of quiet sorrow and brave hope. Unmasked, Sison’s children mirror the yearning to break free from containment and fully explore all possibilities underneath the sky.