When I go to a solo art exhibit, I don’t just expect to see a handful of artworks scattered on a gallery’s walls. I expect a story to unfold, and more often than not I wish to be fascinated, or astounded. Artist Ronald Caringal’s exhibit, “I used to be able to talk to myself. Now we just argue” was a tale narrated on canvas. And it did have the shock value I had hoped for
It was an art exhibit on art; art versus art itself. Through his work, the artist spoke volumes of the centerpiece of his existence, and spoke of it through the illustrated close-up images of the characters in each painting. Looking at the paintings collectively is akin to reading a comic book and waiting for every element of the story to unfold frame after frame.
But it is not a story that brings joy to your heart and makes you shine with optimism afterwards. The title of each work functions as a prelude to the emotions on the faces of the characters and the words that come out of their mouths.
There is no juxtaposition here; it is a deliberate, tormenting tale of confusion, sadness, regret, and pain. There is much drama in every frame, made more palpable by the words on each painting, except for one. One painting,that of an image of an old woman, has no words inscribed, possibly denoting silence. The title of this piece and the emotion on the woman’s face suffice as a narrative on their own.
Here is an excerpt from Ronald Caringal’s artist statement:
“Art never wanted to adapt but I forced him to. Big mistake. That’s when our arguments turned into fights which turned into bickering and we eventually despised each other’s guts. Art and I saw each other less and less til it came to a point where I hardly remember what he looks like. My poor friend just couldn’t handle the changes. We fell apart.”
Ronald Caringal is an artist based in Manila, Philippines.