• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2616

    Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary Art

    30 November 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 338

    GERALDINE JAVIER (b. The Philippines 1970)

    Blackbird singing

    Price Realised  


    GERALDINE JAVIER (b. The Philippines 1970)
    Blackbird singing
    diptych - oil on canvas
    23¾ x 59¾ in. (60.5 x 152cm.), 59¾ x 59¾ in. (152 x 152 cm.)
    2 (2)

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    Geraldine Javier's Blackbird singing is painted with a fine, sable brush precision and meticulousness that renders the work, characteristically and paradoxically elegant and sinister. Painted in 2008, the work was exhibited in the artist's solo exhibition titled Sampaloc Cave Paintings at the Podium, Finale Art File, in Manila, the Philippines. The title of the exhibition points poignantly to the intent of the artist, referencing her latest works to the paleolithic cave drawings in Lascaux and Sampaloc is the name of an old district where the artist resides in Manila. The works are infused with a quality of timelessness reminiscent of the cave paintings. By drawing parallels between her home which is also where her studio is, and the primitive habitation, Geraldine tellingly reveals her own psychological make up whilst completing this series of works.

    "An elegiac wistfulness for the primeval before rigid structures that delimit and categorize habitation that lead to the creation of cities permeate Geraldine Javier's latest exhibit entitled Sampaloc Cave Paintings. In patinated tones of somber blues, greens and tinges of ochre reminiscent of mid-century grammar books, the painted scenes portend to fables of dissolving borders between the acclimatized fantasy engendered by media and the real." (Lena Cobangbang, Geraldine Javier's Sampaloc Cave Paintings, Finale Art File, Manila, 2008, pg. 1). Not unlike her previous oeuvres which straddle precariously between a world of fantasy and a realistic one, the latest oeuvres from the artist however accentuate the pent up energy or frustration of the artist, having been confined to her studio to meet deadlines and this is the same raw energy that resulted in the construction of scrutinized compositions and an intense reflection on the solitary painterly manner. "Somewhat a refashioning of Plato's cave where it is purported that those who have stayed in the cave too long are in the danger of amusing themselves too much with mere shadows that real life passes by them in their unwitting isolation from them." (Ibid) Indeed, it is the very fear of self-indulgent which might lead to irrelevance that compels Geraldine to dissect her circumstances with a clinical detachment.

    "This is best exemplified in Blackbird singing where a girl in a blue story-book shift gazes lethargically upwards to a panel flocked by silhouette birds, the striped pattern reminiscent of TV colour bars. Lying at the edge of the couch in a rigour mortis slipshod, she seems completely unaware of the brightly-hued birds pecking at a crumpled bag of chips at her deathly grip. She must be imagining Balthus coming up to her or re-enacting St. Theresa's ecstasy in her blank stare. But George Romero cuts in on the scene. He frames it instead as a satire on the habits of urban dwellers caged-in too much by their complacent and addictive routines of automated digestion of mostly by-products and trifling matters - TV + chips = zombie trance. The sudden pangs of hunger for another's brain is merely suggested, mimicked from other's actions, the mimicking multiplied becomes an unthinking mob, ready to lynch without reason, easy to kill then without their individuality, like herds of cattle to be slaughtered without remorse." (Ibid).

    In this light, the artist and her protagonists build up an intimate relationship, the palpable charge of that relationship itself, of the artist's feelings as they are expressed in the delicate compositions and careful brushwork, add a currency, validity, showing to what degree the picture is the result of a very specific and real moment in the artist's life.


    Ronald Achacoso, Asian Art News - Vol. 18/No. 5 September/October 2008, Fragmented Tales, p.110 (illustrated in color)


    Mandaluyong City, The Philippines, The Atrium, 2nd level, The Podium, ADB Avenue, Sampaloc Cave Paintings, 24 June - 7 July 2008, exhibition catalogue. (illustrated in color)