BACKBONE AND STITCHES : Bencab Museum : 2014


Backbone and Stitches

Abi Dionisio

Bencab Museum, Oct 2014

In the span of her already productive career Abi Dionisio has mostly painted and motivated to articulate representational ideals of women—immaculate, mysterious and beautiful but this time she fleshes out a memoir of some pain, memory and homage, time and circumstance all of which defines her third solo show.   Departing from the usual mystical nymphs and the gaze of the feminine in surreal and dreamy states, she turns to images that are personal, situational and direct yet at the same time unmistakably profound.  But unlike the women in draperies which she has been steadily known to paint, she now courageously bares and uncovers her life and discloses her identity in personal narrative frames while making some conveying a shift in her artistic and stylistic dispositions.

The series of paintings is her loving tribute to her ailing father and her idioms and set of symbolic choices which are objects and other instruments related to dressmaking allude to her father who was once a tailor. This show reveals brief sketches of her past and family life and that of her once able and healthy father.  Within these paintings, she recalls a once secured home and dependent on the man who hewed to the role a devoted, caring and nurturing patriarch and to whom she returns all these exaltation, respect and pride.

She re-imagines and re-animates these dressmaking tools’ from their basic utility and warps them into new life with set in various com-positional motifs, stitching them altogether in altered presences and sensibilities.  While recognizing her father’s working days in ways they are fixed in her memory, she employs such proletarian symbols that extend homage to labor and hard work in a well-remembered landscape of production and familial situations.  Conspicuously, her use of cloth and draperies can be more than an idiom of concealment and revelation, it’s a material that indeed surrounded most of her life and this strong influence can be attributed to how she was raised.  In one particular piece, Dionisio appropriates needlework to underscore her context and theme, repeating his father’s work which gives this creative experience a richer overlay of meanings.  Her images of exposed spinal column is a direct references to his father illness which she now drapes in cloth as if replacing sinews and muscles that once cling on it while she also uses them as metaphor for care and healing. Somehow these images connote human frailty and infallibility and they engage us how as mortals are inevitably subjected to the corruption of its friable bodies and how physical suffering and withering is a known fate.

Struggles and predicaments are compelling aesthetic drives and this show clearly points that out.   The presence of distress and tumult indeed lend her work a haunting complexity and an engaged narrative quality.  With the projections of her circumstances on canvas, she particularly puts herself to the context of being both the subject and artist.

While all these are framed in forlorn and nostalgia, she reshapes the experiences in curious images laden with suggestions of coping, hopeful anticipation.  Also within the array of her paintings, she lays interior images to convey not just pain and agonizing choices but of little comforts, love and faith.  In doings so, Dionisio converts her experiences to pure creative attention and it’s also where she gains more strength and will.


Philip Paraan

Solo Exhibition: New Paintings
October 18 – November 30, 2014

Km. 6 Asin Road, Tuba, Metro Baguio, Philippines
Tel: (+63 74) 4427165 Mobile (+63) 920 5301954
(click image to enlarge)



photo by Mark Christian Sy
photo by Mark Christian Sy
photo by Mark Christian Sy


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