Four exhibits this January confront our fractured relationship with nature

This month, artists grapple with the ceramic tactility of flora, the visceral wonders of water, and abstract intimations of woodland.

These diverse representations of the natural world are unified by each artists’ inquisitive spirit, a nagging curiosity to explore the oscillating boundaries of material, meaning, and matter. They ask: How are we to imagine the world around us with the daily threat of destruction and decay, reminders that our finite existence might leave behind an irreversible end? How do we begin to seek clarity in the wake of all this turbulence? Is there a path forward to be made? And what can the artistic instinct tell us about such a path?

Here are four exhibits this month that offer their own kind of grace in forging ahead with the guidance of the natural world’s marvels. 

A Light in Everything by Tessy Pettyjohn 

“From The Desert 3” by Tessy Pettyjohn, 2019, stoneware and porcelain

With a series of ceramic organisms, Tessy Pettyjohn returns with her second solo show at Silverlens Gallery in Makati City. These delicately crafted formations, which take their cue from flora of various shapes and sizes, channel a patient introspection and practically glow from within. Here are assemblages of striking and esoteric beauty, full of peculiar outgrowths and blossoming patterns. 

Promised Land by Victoria Montinola

From Promised Land by Victoria Montinola

Journeying into the depths of uncertainty and change, Victoria Montinola’s canvases seem to originate from a desire to reckon with humanity’s exploitation of land. Montinola’s muddled brushstrokes, imbricating abstraction over the traditional landscape form, allude to the dynamics of chaos and disorder. The questions impelling these works seem to stem from ownership—claims and disputes over a so-called promised land—and how the follies of possession can lead us farther away from each other. 

Opalescent by Keiye Miranda

“Portal” by Keiye Miranda, 2024, oil on canvas

Underwater, things take on a certain muted ambiguity. A motley of found objects—a typewriter, a sewing machine, and more—submerged in water are the subjects of Angono-based painter Keiye Miranda’s latest show Opalescent in Finale Art File. These paintings shimmer with the transformative potential of water, elusive yet inviting all the same. These strangely evocative paintings invite us into their world headfirst, leaving us both breathless and renewed in their tilted and flickering beauty. 

Nevermind the questions there’s no answer for by Is Jumalon

“Sunlight Probing” by Is Jumalon, 2024, acrylic on canvas 

Is Jumalon has often described their paintings as houseplants, a fitting descriptor for their works’ lived-in character. Their latest exhibit at Vinyl on Vinyl, however, strays from domesticity in favor of blistering juxtapositions between the manmade and natural, flowing figures and gridded structures. Concrete blocks litter an expanse of greenery in a painting called “Sunlight Probing,” a verdant post-apocalypse. Across these works, which move with their own fugitive logic, we are reminded of the urgency in excavating wonder from our surroundings even in the most detrimental of circumstances.

The new lifestyle.