Arts & Culture

“Benevolent”: Burn Aquino and Irish Galon at Renaissance Gallery

Art and love have brought together couple-artists Burn Aquino and Irish Galon impelled by their current tandem show at Renaissance Gallery, titled “Benevolent”- a word that warms the cockles of the heart: Kindhearted. Warmhearted. Tenderhearted. And all these, meaning: gratification of one’s deepest feelings. Still, each artist is individual, standing by and for his/her art alone.


Picasso and Francoise Gilot. Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth. Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keefe. Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. Willem and Elaine De Kooning. Robert Motherwell and Helen Frankenthaler.

So famous are the linked names of these artistic couples in history that numerous books have been written not only about their art but about their lives together. Whether the relationship was short-lived or for life, whether blissful or tempestuous, is for their biographers to contend with. But one thing is undeniable: Art had brought these disparate souls together.

Closer to home, art and love have brought together such couples as Angelito Antonio and Norma Belleza. Allan and Ivi Avellana-Cosio, Lao Lianben and Lilia Lao. Soler and Mona. John and Tessie Pettyjohn, just to name a few.

One might add, impelled by their current tandem show at Renaissance Gallery, the couple Burn Aquino and Irish Galon. The title is “Benevolent”- a word that warms the cockles of the heart: Kindhearted. Warmhearted. Tenderhearted. And all these, meaning: gratification of one’s deepest feelings.

Still: each artist is individual, standing by and for his/her art alone. A personal vision. An innermost connection with the human spirit. And though counsel or reaction from one to the other may occur the art is, ultimately, un-shareable: even in the most intimate of relationships.

Deciphering a Game

In this show, Burn Aquino presents the technique that has been markedly associated with him. As an art term, it is known as dechirage – from the French dechir, meaning to tear. It is thus the opposite of collage, which is assembled through a built-up of assorted papers. Dechirage became popular with the French artists in their so-called movement Nouveau Realism (New Realism). Notable is the heavy influence of Pop sensibility as the torn or peeled paper was drawn from the torn movie posters plastered on street walls, leaving residual facial images of Hollywood stars.

Burn Aquino, “Mr. Kenkoy” H34cm W19cm L17cm Canvas Sculpture

There is, however, a significant difference in the works of Aquino. His dechirage is subsumed under the technique known as trompe l-oeil, meaning to fool the eye. Aquino gives the viewer the illusion of torn paper, a more difficult and challenging feat of execution than the mere physical tearing of paper. The pleasure lies precisely in the shock of realization and the subversive character of the artist’s purpose. Torn are not any Pop images but letters of the alphabet, seemingly buried in layers, dissociated from familiar words, now rendered indecipherable.

As well, Aquino works with a few sculptural pieces which are not aligned with the traditional notion of sculpture, i.e, carving and casting. Instead, he has contrived in the manner of assemblage his Pop figures which he has hog-tied while ensconced on their thrones. Thus tightly bound, they convey an inevitable narrative of the unraveling of power through which the viewer must mentally untangle himself from this game of thrones.

On The Verge

In complete contrast, on the other hand, in theme, imagery, and approach, are the works of Irish Galon. A strong narrative line connects the various works that consistently depict a solitary young girl (rarely with another, but is most likely a doppelganger or other self) at the age of menarche. This impression is inescapable, as witness the nostalgic reminders of childhood: the polka dot dresses, the ribbons, the lollipop, the teddy bear, allusions to a clown.

Irish Galon “Twinning” 18×24, mixed media

There is tension in the separation of persona from a cherished childhood on the verge of adolescence with all the mysterious and frightening physical changes of the female body. Symbolic too in the most intriguing way is Galon’s use of the wallpapered room as the interior space resonant of the enclosure, a perfumed dungeon, a jewel box of childhood memories, a cage of unspeakable fears and anxieties. In the guise of pretty-ness and daintiness, Galon has imagined a surprising unnerving scenario: the room being submerged in water, the young girl evanescing through the wall, the obsessive clutching at the teddy bear, the inhibition at the first sight of nakedness, setting off awareness of sexuality.

Galon is fastidious in her draughtsmanship, each figure calculatedly limned, each detail of an image attended with the same expressiveness as the girl’s “visage” which, ironically, is often veiled, hidden, concealed.

Two-man shows, like Burn Aquino’s and Irish Galon’s “Benevolent,” integrate separate visions that do not cancel each other out, but rather enrich each other’s dimension and heighten the range of expressiveness for their audience.

By: Cid Reyes

(Cid Reyes is the author of the choice of National Artists Arturo Luz, BenCab, J. Elizalde Navarro, and Napoleon V. Abueva. A prolific critic, he has written over 40 art books and numerous reviews. Reyes received a “Best in Criticism Award” from the Art Association of the Philippines {AAP}).

#coupleartist #artandlove #artappreciation #renaissancegallery #preciousmoments #rubyasoyph




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Ruby is a true-blooded media practitioner and a journalist by profession. She served her early years as a lifestyle writer for a leading magazine and a couple of corporate engagements to which she learned the ropes of editorial work –  and dealing with almost the brightest personalities and celebrities in tinsel town. She had a very productive stint at the now-defunct AMPR Publicity and Communications, Inc. It was also during this period that she honed her skills in Marketing when she had the opportunity to serve as Committee Member at the prestigious Philippine Marketing Association. For inquiries, invites, or to send relevant press content, email the author at FB pages:


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