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Final week to view 'Humo' at the MET

There are artworks that tell a complete story and bring immediate satisfaction to the eyes and the intellect. And then there are works that present an incomplete narrative, keep people on their toes, wondering what happened before and what will come next.  Mexican artist Florencia Guillén, the winner of the Latin America Roaming Art Prize and the Metropolitan Museum of Manila’s 3rd international artist in residence focuses exactly on this moment of potent calm in her exhibition, Humo, on view only until April 28.

Humo is the Spanish term for smoke or usok in Filipino. Using various mediums – video, animation, tapestry and calligram, Guillén adopts the volcano as a central narrative, but veers away from the critical moment of the explosive eruption. Instead, she draws our attention to the before and the after, to the precedent condition and to the aftermath that are manifested not by a thunderous explosion but by a slowly shifting smoke. As the poet Rene Char said, “Over there, everything is smoke. Where there is smoke, there is change.”

One of the artworks featured in the exhibition is Magma, a pencil drawing made directly on the museum’s white wall.  Instead of lines and tonal shading, Guillén created the image of a volcano from words arranged into a poetic composition reflecting on magma before it turns into destructive lava. 

"When I was magma I did not feel the need to get out. I was used to floating and nothing else. The darkness was imperceptible because I did not have eyes. The walls were arid but I was calm, pleasantly coming and going. Something happened one day that everything moved.” 

The artwork plays on different emotions that run through an evolving substance to create anticipation. It builds up a climax that began in a slow and steady manifestation of release. 

Guillen’s Magma is a calligram of a volcano. A calligram is a piece of text arranged and designed in a way that creates a visual image from the words themselves. It is a combination of three skills – poetry, calligraphy, and drawing.   

In line with this, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila will be offering a Calligram Workshop on April 23, Saturday at 1 PM- 5 PM, to be conducted by artist-art educator Renan Ortiz. Participants will be taught how to visually reinterpret and embellish letters into an image composed of related words. 

The Calligram Workshop is open to interested participants of all ages. The fee of P800 is inclusive of materials and snacks. Slots are limited and early registration via email at info@metmuseum.ph is advised. For more information, call (02) 708-7828.

The Metropolitan Museum of Manila is located at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex, Roxas Blvd., Manila. The Humo exhibit is a product of the MET’s 2016 International Artist Residency Program in partnership with Asia Citi Trust and the Latin America Roaming Art (LARA) Project, and with the support of the Mexican Embassy in the Philippines.

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