“Icarus Ascending” by Jose Gamalinda, part of Detritus, now showing at T-bar
BY AARON STELLA The long awaited debut of Jose Gamalinda, emergent artist and veteran bartender at Woody’s for over 18 years, has finally arrived. Now his pieces, which have hitherto remained unexposed to the public, are on display at T-bar (located at 12th and Sansom streets) in a show aptly titled “Detritus.” Gamalinda specializes in collages and reproductions in Bic pen. Most of Gamalinda’s friends, co-workers and fellow art enthusiasts were already familiar with his work. For years, they’ve prodded him to invest the time needed to actualize a public exhibition, but to no avail. Eventually, Ric Best, Photographer and co-proprietor of Flourish Gallery, pressed Gamalinda, telling him that his debut was far past due. Thankfully, Best’s goading worked. Thus “Detritus” was born.
For a debut artist, his pieces are remarkably refined, disciplined and altogether intriguing: each piece, whether collage work or in Bic pen, is a personal exercise that just happens to rise to the level of art. Upon undertaking a collage, Gamalinda lets his hands roam free. “I just let the materials of the collage fall together…then I add and subtract and reconfigure, almost like making a puzzle while deciphering it simultaneously,” Gamalinda said. Whatever he has on hand (fabric, magazine cutouts, malleable materials, etc), Gamalinda incorporates. “Making use of what you’ve got” is a consistent theme in his collage work.
In Gamalinda’s artist statement, posted at T-bar, he asserts that he doesn’t subscribe the trend of leaving works untitled: “The stance of “untitled,” “open interpretation” and “let the work speak for itself” is so cliché. For the average “joe” I believe a little spoon-feeding doesn’t hurt. I think it let’s them appreciate your work more when they’re given anecdotes into your mind.” Upon completing a collage, Gamalinda reflects on the final product, walking the sinuous warrens of his mind to retrace the thought process he had during production. In conclusion, he emerges with a grab bag of words and phrases (i.e. The Consequence of Influence/Tychism/A Knack for Art/i am everything i see), which become his appellations; and a means by which his viewers can empathize with his creative process.
The finished products of Gamalinda’s collages depart from traditional collages. Actually, to call a Gamalinda “collage” a collage is a bit of a misnomer. He still employs a variety of materials, but instead of crowded canvasses of disconnected images, abstract still lifes and philosophical concepts coalesce in an orderly fashion. The reproductions in Bic pen, however, fulfill a different function. They’re partly homages to the originals, but more so an exercise of “feeling” the creative process specific to each artist. For his viewers, the effect, or reward, is subtler. Gamalinda seems to strip the originals of their majesty while evoking a visceral quality more accessible to modern audiences. Like his reproduction of Jean Baptiste Carpeaux’s “Ugolino and His Sons,” with the stroke of a pen, Ugolino’s wretchedness is magnified—and his sons and grandchildren, never seemed more distraught and bewildered. The intrigue of Gamalinda’s reproductions, however, is only made possible through his exemplary execution. “Detritus” will be showing until the end of April.