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Alba Iulia
Monday, January 25, 2021

First Australian exhibition of Filipino artist Pio Abad

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Pio Abad 1 Pio Abad 2

Working in a range of media including drawing, installation and photography, Manila-born, London-based artist Pio Abad uses strategies of appropriation and replication to reveal alternative or repressed historical events, unravel official accounts and draw out threads of complicity between incidents, ideologies and people from the Philippines and beyond.

Using inexpensive reproduction techniques that contrast with the opulent origins of the objects he replicates, the works presented in 1975 – 2015 question the function of the domestic object in political action.

1975 – 2015 establishes a historical framework which begins in 1975 with the evacuation of United States Forces from Saigon, and concludes in 2015 with the production of a body of work that attempts to recalibrate the archiving of a several conflicts spanning from post-Marcos Philippines to the Balkans conflict of the 1990s.

4A’s Director Mikala Tai said: “4A is delighted to be working with Pio Abad to present 1975 – 2015. Abad’s appropriation of everyday objects invites us to reassess our understandings and expectations of contemporary Philippines. Beyond the nation’s borders, Abad’s work presents a Philippines embedded in the socio-political milieu of South East Asia, but also one that is infinitely global.”

Abad will cover 4A’s ground floor gallery with the wallpaper work 105 Degrees and Rising (2015). Overlaying the ERDL camouflage developed by the US military for the jungles of Vietnam and the now infamous 1976 pinup poster of American actress Farah Fawcett, the work suggests a complex reading of the conclusion of the Vietnam War.

The exhibition also features Decoy (2016)!–!dummy!CCTV cameras adorned with tropical seashells –!and a new collection of unique digital prints on silk, titled Every Tool is a Weapon if You Hold it Right (2015). After repeated passing of the French store, Hermès, on the way to his London studio, Abad was struck by the seemingly endless cycle of decorative scarves on display from the brand that is well-known for its individually screen printed silks, often depicting moments from 19th and 20th Century French history. With his own scarves, Abad has drawn on archival objects and images collected since 2010 to produce original designs that bring together disparate social and historical narratives into a broader conversation around cultural remembrance and loss.

Abad’s interest in domestic design and affordable methods of reproduction is apparent in his series of postcard replicas of the seized and sequestered collection of Italian Renaissance paintings owned by Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. An unlimited edition, the set of 97 prints on postcards attempt to symbolically recover the artworks and make them available for the public once again, to be enjoyed at the gallery and also taken home by visitors.

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