- Annie Cabigting
- My Grotesque (After Cordero)
- Oil on canvas
The present work is part of the Painting under the Influence of Painting series that pairs anonymous viewers with iconic works of art. They are always shown from the back, directly facing the artwork. Cabigting’s take on the artist and viewer dichotomy revolves around the idea that “the portrayal of a reality becomes imperishable through [an individual’s] experiencing of the object”2. As the title of the present work implies, a woman stands in front of a Louie Cordero painting, her pink hair accentuating the animated shapes and colors in the work before her.
Cabigting often mirrors the individuals with their selected paintings, thereby further blurring the lines between fact and fiction. This is also the case with My Grotesque (After Cordero). The woman’s attire and brightly hued hair compliments the animated frenzy of Cordero’s painting, leaving the third party, the true audience, left to decipher the artwork’s meaning on their own. My Grotesque (After Cordero) may also be read within a feminist context, for the artists chosen many of them are men. Notable individuals include Jackson Pollock, Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud, Rembrandt, and now Cordero. Therefore though the viewers may rotate, it is the gender of the artists that remain mostly the same— a subtle nod to the history of painting.
It may be said that Painting under the Influence of Painting series is vaguely reminiscent of Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills. Though one is paintings and the other photographs, both have taken well known works, and conceptualized them into new narratives that are largely of their own (female) design. Using avatars to represent herself within the paintings, Cabigting interchanges repeatedly between the role of artist-creator and viewer-commentator. In My Grotesque (After Cordero) she embodies a female punk, and through this woman does the audience vicariously experience Cordero’s painting, as well as conversely Cabigting’s own work as well.
As a Filipino artist, it is fitting for Cabigting to reference another Filipino painter in her series. Louie Cordero is well known for his colorful paintings that are an eclectic blend of traditional folklore, local politics and religion, as well as pop culture and comic books. A dynamic medley of references, Cordero’s oeuvre may be seen as a single man play where all the characters and stories erupt from the mind of one individual. Reimagining the painting as such in My Grotesque (After Cordero), Cabigting uses the artwork partly as a compliment towards Cordero, as well as to comment on the theory that all pictures should tell a story. Paintings should have the “physical presence of our common reality [which is] the common experience of our common humanity”3.
However, My Grotesque (After Cordero), together with the other paintings in the series, should not be seen as caricatures of the art world. Rather the paintings are Cabigting’s homage to famous painters, deliberately choosing one artwork over the other. Relating back to the supposed "death” of the painting genre, much of Cabigting’s body of works is a reevaluation of the ongoing debate. Through staged narratives that pair individuals and paintings together, the artist plays with various concepts, such as paintings' relationship with the public and creative appropriation of materials. She has ultimately transformed the act of painting into a spectator sport. My Grotesque (After Cordero) may be a work within a work, but it is this honesty that establishes the painting’s role in a contemporary framework, for “the greatest truth [the audience] hopes to discover… is that man’s truth is the final resolution of everything”4.
1. Martin Jay, Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1993, p. 136.
2. J.D. McClatchy, Poets on Painters: Essays On The Art Of Painting By Twentieth-Century Poets, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1990, p. 273.
3. Refer to 2, p. 292.
4. Refer to 2, p. 124.