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Pink Fumes
An exhibit by AJ Omandac and Jigger P. Cruz

To say that the works comprising Pink Fumes are irritating or offensive—attributes that the word "fumes" connotes—would be quite a stretch. (If nothing else, the descriptive adjective takes away much of the sting.) The title is instead suggestive of a thick cloud, perhaps a heavy fragrance, which is at once substantial and insubstantial, obscuring vision without obliterating it, and provoking other senses besides. This two-man exhibit by AJ Omandac and Jigger P. Cruz is rife with just such tensions and contradictions.

Omandac's paintings constitute a series featuring a girl upon whom water encroaches and overwhelms. The series is characterized, startlingly enough, by stasis. The subject's eyes and mouth turn wide and round with what is supposed to be shock, the natural reaction that the experience of drowning elicits, but her expression is bovine. The look on her face is not resignation, as resignation implies that resistance has been given up; what it implies is that the girl is incapable of resistance, and was always already so. The water itself, carefully rendered in bands of varying tones and widths, appears solid and stolid, deliberately swallowing the subject rather than washing over her.

Cruz's pieces depict apparently industrial settings where substances spew across, over, into, through, and against space. These works are energetic, almost vigorous, with color and detail, leading the eye in loops, whorls, and spirals—large and small, slowly and quickly—from one site of fluid action to another. It is easy to hear the hiss of smoke from a leaking tube or the roar of water from a burst pipe—so easy, in fact, that the question of the reason for all this frenetic activity almost does not register. The answer: there is no reason. The movements are automatic, purposeless, and seemingly ceaseless: the consequence of a master switch flicked on, and then neglected, by some agency.

The works of Omandac and Cruz are yoked together in Pink Fumes primarily—and not always entirely harmoniously—by a palette of pinks and grays, as well as common themes. One gets the sense that these paintings are not entirely at ease with one another in ways other than style, augmenting the dissonant effects that each piece produces.

Pink Fumes runs from 16 March to April 15 2007, at the Pablo Gallery, Cubao X (Marikina Shoe Expo), Araneta Center, Quezon City.

– Jaime Oscar M. Salazar