In the House (Art…Work From Home) • Joey de Leon

Feb 11 to Mar 5, 2021 • Upstairs Gallery

Joey de Leon, more known as a comedian and a mainstay host of Eat Bulaga!, the longest variety show in the Philippines, displays his mettle in the field of visual arts in his solo exhibition, In the House (Art…Work From Home). As early as in the 1980s, de Leon has already been showing his works and collaborating with visual artists, some of whom would eventually become masters and National Artists. This current presentation at Finale Art File reunites de Leon with his first love and joy: of making marks and applying colors on canvas.

These paintings of varying sizes were accomplished during quarantine, which is still in place nationally. With the time and space to sit down and paint, de Leon’s initial forays were attempts to make sense of the current reality of the pandemic. For instance, in “No Mas Face!,” de Leon explores and makes fun of the ubiquity of face masks, with “face” transformed into the visual pun of “peace” and “fish.” Taking into account that “mas” is the Spanish word for “more,” the title means, “no more face,” which directly alludes to how the masks have totally obliterated the face of wearer.

Words, both as titles and typographical presence in the paintings, are important elements in the works of de Leon. In some cases, the words lead to paintings, as de Leon gives puns, idiomatic expressions, and Biblical verses a visual interpretation. For instance, in “Uni-corn,” the horn of the mythical creature is transformed into maize. In “And Blessed is the Fruit,” a still life turns into a devotional painting, with the fruits forming the shape of a man in contemplative prayer, his avocado seed-eyes trained on a full moon.

What is sustained as some kind of a theme in this exhibition is how numbers are arranged into scenes of Biblical import such as the Nativity and Crucifixion, putting a new twist on numbers as being “figures.” Working with numbers, de Leon states, gives him the constraint in order to imaginatively come up with his cryptic compositions. The order the universe as expressed by numbers and the magic of divinity through the religious themes fuse in these works.

The lockdown, in providing de Leon the space to touch brush on canvas, has become an opportunity for the artist to explore the flexibility of the acrylic medium as well as new themes. That these works are animated by a sense of play and exuberance is evident, injecting a sense of levity to a form of art notable for its high seriousness. The paintings of de Leon, in their refusal to play by the rules and subscribe to conventional tropes, are inflected with a crackling energy, redolent with visual puns, surprising juxtapositions, and the transformation of numbers as image. (Carlomar Arcangel Daoana)

Artworks from the Show

For Nine Is The Power… 3

For Nine Is The Power… 3, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 30×24 in

For Nine Is The Power… 4

For Nine Is The Power… 4, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 18×24 in

For Nine Is The Power… 5

For Nine Is The Power… 5, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 24×12 in

For Nine Is The Power… 6

For Nine Is The Power… 6, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 24×12 in

For Nine Is The Power… 7

For Nine Is The Power… 7, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 10×20 in

For Nine Is The Power… 8

For Nine Is The Power… 8, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 10×20 in

For Nine Is The Power… 9

For Nine Is The Power… 9, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 18×12 in

The First Supper (Eden Numbers)

The First Supper (Eden Numbers), Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 40×20 in

The First Supper 2 (Eden Numbers)

The First Supper 2 (Eden Numbers), Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 40×20 in

The First Supper 3 (Eden Numbers)

The First Supper 3 (Eden Numbers), Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 18×12 in

The First Supper 4 (Eden Numbers)

The First Supper 4 (Eden Numbers), Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 18×12 in

The First Supper 5 (Eden Numbers)

The First Supper 5 (Eden Numbers), Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 12×24 in

Nudels: Stripfood

Nudels: Stripfood, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 14×18 in

Nudels: Stripfood 2

Nudels: Stripfood 2, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 14×18 in

Nudels: Stripfood 3

Nudels: Stripfood 3, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 20×40 in

Pandemilk

Pandemilk, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 20×10 in

Pandemilk 2

Pandemilk 2, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 14×18 in

Press One For Milk

Press One For Milk, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 20×10 in

Uni-Corn

Uni-Corn, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 12×18 in

Am I Being Framed?

Am I Being Framed?, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 18×24 in

Bathing Pakwan

Bathing Pakwan, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 12×24 in

Face Wash

Face Wash, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 24×20 in

Face Wash 2

Face Wash 2, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 18×14 in

…And Blessed Is The Fruit

…And Blessed Is The Fruit, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 10×20 in

…And Blessed Is The Fruit 2

…And Blessed Is The Fruit 2, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 10×20 in

Nine Orders Of Angels

Nine Orders Of Angels, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 20×40 in

Numeri Christmas

Numeri Christmas, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 20×24 in

Boobie Woogie (Social Tits Dancing)

Boobie Woogie (Social Tits Dancing), Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 24×12 in

No Mas Face!

No Mas Face!, Joey de Leon, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 12×24 in