UNDER WATCHFUL EYES. February 7, 2009 -- Blanc Compound

"Under The Watchful Eyes", oil on canvas, 78 x 120 inches - 2009

Art is like a Journal

text by; Clarissa Chikiamko

Art is like a journal, Mark Andy Garcia once said. If it is a journal, the selected works in this exhibition script the startling, tumultuous past year Garcia has had. The unusual succession of events that have unfolded in Garcias life within close proximity to one other has placed the artist squarely in an overwhelming test of his disposition. Briefly, the story of this episode of Garcia's life is this: 

Rochelle and Raquel, Garcias two younger sisters at nineteen and seventeen years old (both single and still in school), would up with overlapping unplanned pregnancies. His older brother, Rhayan, got married but, within a month, forlornly had to leave his pregnant wife behind to work in Taiwan for much needed finances. It additional, the kidneys of Garcias father stopped functioning and regular (and expensive) dialysis sessions became necessary. And like many mothers who become the families resilient pillar in times of crisis, Garcia's mother has more than dutifully stepped up to her as the caring, loving wife and mother who sources her strength from places of unplumbed depths.  

Now, Garcia, the second of the five children, is amidst and in between all of this. 

While seemingly aloof in manner should one meet him in person, Garcias composed exterior veil a tempest beneath. The furor and confusion that Garcia rightly feels for all these occurrences is directly seen and felt  in these exhibitions works. The works were each created quickly and unplanned in a torrential flood of feeling  in the need to suddenly discharge these hot flashes of intense emotion and moments of great duress. Grief, anger, despair, sympathy and bewilderment are bared in Garcias childlike brash slashing strokes and  in the  impetuous scribbled phrases found all over his paintings. His selection of damp browns, purples and greens further insinuate the artists brooding  and foreboding mood. 

Focusing on Garcia's mother are the works Charity, Sorrow, My Mother and She's  Always There... They , in some sense, pay tribute to her vigor, her steadfastness and indeed  her anguish as well, as Garcia perceives it. Depicting his brother and sister-in-law, Kuya Rhayan  ate Ate Raquel centers on Garcias brothers distressed reaction to his sisters pregnancy news which followed only a day  after what had been his joyous wedding. The events of Rochelle and Raquel, the objects of Garcia's  mothers charity, shadow and dominate most of the men obviously referred  to in Raquel in the Shadow of an Imbecile; the other alluded to in The Brainless Murderer. The men loom in the corner of Under the Watchful Eyes while Garcias self-portrait sits on the opposite side holding a double-edged sword, a biblical reference to the word of God. The importance of faith in these events that have cast such a feeling of vulnerability to Garcia, understandably feeling prey to his emotions, is echoed in his Prayer Request of a Weak Man

The exhibitions title Under the Watchful Eyes, taken from the title of the largest work in the exhibition, originally referred to a divine being overlooking these events and, simultaneously, the judgmental perceptions of others to what had happened. Yet, the title takes new meaning in the recent death of Garcia's father, who passed away shortly after the works for the show were complicated. It perhaps movingly bookends a conclusion in this particular chapter of troubling events in Garcia's life.     

Undeniably, the weight of such severe family circumstances Garcia finds himself in weights heavily on the works. Who would want to own something filled with so much personal tragedy? Would it be so sadistic to purchase and display such a memento of events that are so obviously deeply painful to the artist? 

Yet, if art is like a journal as Garcia says, there is something very precious then about owning what amounts to a page from the artists diary and one so specially invested in by the artist. It is rare to find works these days with such a fervent personal connection to actual events in the artists life. The impulsive painting process has certainly been a therapeutic one for Garcia, the transference of emotions done through the very physical sensation of daubing here, there, anywhere and everywhere. There is an evident amount of gratification in expelling the hurt, the demons, the confusion and the sadness. 

Yet, there are still some few last stages of this progression of healing being completed. The works have entered the realm of the commercial world. They are now exhibited in a gallery ready to be sold off and shipped to its new proprietors, who will own not only a part of the artists experience but, with such inundation of the artists inner self, also in a sense of part of his soul.  

As Garcia lets go of these works and they go of these works and they go into the homes of the appreciative and enlightened, perhaps he may find the cathartic release and the prayed-for strength that he has greatly longed for and that he so much deserves.

"Charity". oil on canvas, 72" x 48" - 2009 

"Rochelle". oil on canvas, 48" x 36" - 2009 

"Brainless Murderer". oil on canvas, 48" x 36" - 2009 

"Raquel in The Shadow of an Imbecile". oil on canvas, 48" x 36" - 2009 

"Sorrow". oil on canvas, 48" x 36" - 2009 

"Wedding of Kuya Rhayan and Ate Raquel". oil on canvas, 50" x 48" - 2009 

"Dark Empty Plane". oil on canvas, 50" x 72" - 2009 

"My Mother". oil on canvas, 72" x 48" - 2009 

She's Always There...". oil on canvas, 48" x 72" - 2009 

Prayer Request of a Weak Man". oil on canvas, 50" x 48" - 2009