More than ten years have passed since Geraldine Javier last had a full-scale exhibition in Singapore. Much has changed in her life and work since then. She has exhibited in Germany, Slovakia, Cuba, China, South Korea, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, and, of course, several times in the Philippines. Her work has become less gothic, not so death obsessed, more concerned with nature – and, above all else, subtler and more complex.
Nine years ago, Geraldine built a studio in the countryside and left Manila with its constant noise, pollution, and confusion. This, however, was not an act of escapism. It led not only to a greater engagement with nature – specifically her garden – but also with her new local community. Not only does she involve many local people in making her installations (fifty worked on her installation for the Havana Biennial, eleven worked on her new installation for this Singapore exhibition, embroidering, carving, gold-leafing), she has also helped initiate ecological projects and political campaigns.
Her zeal for plants and gardening, her interest in other gardeners – from Claude Monet to Derek Jarman – has underpinned recent exhibitions. For this exhibition, she has widened her horizons to the heavens themselves. Photos from the Hubble telescope of star systems dying and being born were stuck to her studio wall. Not to copy in anyway, but as a reminder of how worlds and life systems are created, how life emerges from flux.
Last year, when Geraldine began working on the work for this exhibition, we were, or she then believed we were, at the tail end of the pandemic. She was feeling optimistic and thinking a lot about the possibility of existence somewhere else. Having read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy, she was thinking not only of what it would be like living somewhere unfamiliar, but that we too on this earth could start over again. That the pandemic might have taught us, as it had taught her, a better connection to the world we live in. But like everyone else, she has been affected by the vicissitudes and turmoil of 2022 – the way the pandemic has dragged on, the defeat of the liberal candidates, the cost of living crisis, the invasion of the Ukraine. The works for this exhibition, however indirectly, reflect this troubled year.
One thing has not changed: her innate ability to make beautiful things: the installation, the paintings, large and small. Beauty here is not an indulgence but a moral value: the promise that behind all this flux and change and apparent chaos, behind all the fiddle-faddle of our daily life, there is something else, something constant and persistent, the promise of a better world, a better time. We can improve things. If we try.
One other thing that has not changed: her determination to carry on.
Artist Talk: Saturday, 19 November 2022, 3 – 4 pm
Vernissage: Saturday, 19 November 2022, 4 – 7 pm
Venue: Mizuma Gallery, 22 Lock Road #01-34 Gillman Barracks, Singapore 108939
When: 19 Nov - 18 Dec 2022, Tue-Sat: 11am-7pm, Sun: 11am-6pm, Closed on Mon & PHs
By: Mizuma Gallery