CHASING SUNSTES. 14 January - 11 February, 2023 -- Silverlens Gallery


Chasing Sunsets

Mark Andy Garcia is a Filipino painter known for his layered, textured landscapes that connect geographies as places of spiritual belonging that make sense of the non-material. This exhibition to welcome the New Year continues to see him explore the possibilities of place as a means to recognize the unknown.

The anonymous, desolate figures in his work are not based on people he knows, but are a result of spontaneity and instinct during the act of painting. They are scribbled black or shaded white in the background or right in front of the viewer. Garcia says he does not plan what colors to use beforehand but lets the developing work guide him. This has meant the expressive use of mainly earth tones with blues and yellows rendered in gestural brushwork. In “Chasing Sunsets,” his second solo exhibition at Silverlens, the eye looks toward the middle of the canvas, towards a clearing in expectation, almost. The work does not occupy the entirety of the frame, but ends before the edges. The other dripping and splattered landscapes in the show seem to exist outside notions of setting, context or time. Be it a pathway, a parcel of forest, or an empty field.

A still life of sunflowers, an allusion to Van Gogh, is also included in the show. Sunflowers have been an enduring subject in Garcia’s art practice. In “Shattered,” instead of looking up, the bouquet of flowers, droops as if sullen. The petals are white and appear wilted. This is in contrast to his previous renderings of the same subject where the petals were mad with vibrant color. In this rendering, one can feel a perceptible sense of effortless action and eventual acceptance.

On another painting, there is a lighthouse in the background. Elements in this piece draw deeply from Garcia’s own experience of struggle. It is said you can go through life twice: the first time as it happens and the second as an artist. The particularity of the work as a visual autobiography of sorts for the artist also lends it a universality that makes it relatable. If this is the case, could a black floating figure in another painting in the same show also stand for his avatar? Maybe. Garcia paints a landscape, but it is the varied perceptions and interpretations it evokes that give it a deeper meaning making it not a mirror of experience but a prism of it.

The artist’s construct of place through the language of sky, land, and trees might just be a fragment of what is present in the natural and historically laden world we live in. But what it does is mine into the feelings we have about our environment, about the spaces that exist between everything; where spirituality and landscape can combine to resurrect old myths and create new ones.

Josephine V. Roque
- Photos, video and music by Rogelio Castillo II

"Empty Space in Between", oil on canvas, 60x60 inches 

"Chasing Sunsets", oil on canvas, 60x60 inches

"Guide", oil on canvas, 60x60 inches

"Shattered", oil on canvas, 60x60 inches 

"Underrated Silence", oil on canvas, 60x60 inches