Reflections on a Room Full of Mirrors


We, the spectators are an additional factor. Though greeted by that gaze, we are also dismissed by it, replaced by that which was there before we were: the model itself.

“Las Meninas”
The Order of Things by Michel Foucault

Using layered shifting narratives on one-way mirrors as thematic device, it seems obvious and even compulsory for an architecture graduate like Art Sanchez to explore the boundaries of this decorative medium for his first solo exhibition at blanc art space.

One cannot wonder too long the extent of his intention to instill biographical vignettes, critique on mass media and cultural myths as seen with these recent works. Meticulously transferring random surreal-like images as collages taken form various printed sources. Etching further on an already established mirror cut out on canvas which serves as base of familiar or familial representation. Creating simultaneous contrast among the aesthetics of objects, metaphors, irony with the given didactic nature of the superimposed image, Sanchez displaces or literally putting everything out of place. At this point, with the viewer’s obvious reflection on the mirrors, Sanchez extends an invitation to exist with interchanging personas and value laden symbols inherent in them. His thoughts could be your thoughts even more is what makes up Afterthoughts.

In Floating Mood Swings, the reverse mirror cut out of a Rodin-inspired The Thinker presents as a dark background of what remains inside man’s emotion as he struggle for memory and pursuit for his own volition as human. They say beauty is the sum of its faults however the objectives in making mental picture based on available references will imply degrees of meaning on varied presentations.

This multi-sharing of similar but varied points of view to someone from behind is commonly known as the Venus effect (from the earliest painting of Venus looking at her resemblance while angels hold a mirror while others keep looking on her). The audience is more involved in this context as one whose every reflection is captured in this creative study of imaginative perception. As one observes beauty in a narcissist kind of way, one reflects and learns more of the experience for his or herself.

Indeed objects in the mirrors appear closer than they appear. As mirror gathers light rays around the curved surface and reflect them at varying angles, signs are said to be more compressed and provide for an illusion of space as it amplifies the apparent size of any room. This is perceived in the emphatic piece Tests Subjects which features an illustration of how light is captured by the camera by the very man who pioneered photography. Sanchez does with Walter Johnson in art what Johnson contributed to science.
Saturation Point is a running commentary of the critical nature of media particularly television. The reverberation of all things good and bad as glaringly represented by floating people with thought bubbles shaped like mushroom clouds jutting out in explosion or emptiness of the idea as presented on the tube. Here Sanchez becomes a cynic or romantic depending on which side you are but his depiction of this most used appliance rises to being an innovative critique to the point in being graphically screaming. Proving he is not all against the idiot box, his main concern remains how people have become too complacent as not to be scared with 99 channel-overload of information. After all, consumer culture fetishes the dumb, refined, and modern individuals, as with television the playing field has been leveled of depending on your immediate appropriate necessity.

Sanchez remembers the only mirror in the house he grew up where photos highlighting significant events and fun times as a family are inserted on the side like a makeshift do-it-yourself photo album. As the mirror eventually faded with the passing of time, so are the irreplaceable photos tucked in. Taking on this experience, Sanchez believes one grows every time we face the mirror. Viewing his works, metaphorically speaking, one gets the idea that art is itself a mirror — reflection of society with all its customs, beliefs, folklore, superstitions, religion, even of the artist himself.

Coming from a family of tinsmith, mirror reflections are nothing new to Sanchez as he invites the viewer even to come nearer and eventually become a part of it. In Between Raindrops and Sun Showers series, the struggle of memory against forgetting, Sanchez wanted to relive the myths and his play with the “demons” of his childhood. Such as when it rains while sun is up, there’s a tikbalang getting married. As varied and many faceted as this mirror, the artist has found a comfortable material in expressing surreal phenomena in various dark metaphors with layers of paint into haunting collages.

Lured by its beauty or in our quest for self-knowledge, we look at mirrors more often than we expect, in every chance we get. Before it became known as mirrors, it was referred to as “looking glass.” Event Horizon is about how we look and are being looked at by mirrors in a context of a gallery setting. As we are greeted upon gaze after gaze coming from the different reflections from the pieces themselves in the exhibit, as viewers we all become part of ever artwork – the mirror on canvas, the subjects, the objects and the viewers reversing roles becoming as models. The entire cast as the collective act of anachronism becomes pure form. The installation of blind spots absorbs the viewers with a closer look, as a caution one need not to get lost in them. Are people imbibed and further tricked by this nature of being seen by mirrors? As the Artspace has been converted into room full of mirrors, converting illusion into memory of lasting persistence is a reward in itself.

Like everything resemblances on the mirrors, Afterthoughts does not have to explain the images you see, the artworks adjust themselves to it. Art is more of an interpretation than reflection. In the end, one learns that Afterthoughts is not one such.