Published February 04, 2021
In Filipino Artist David Viray's solo show at Kaida Contemporary called “I love you, Earth” there are three paintings one won’t forget. There’s the one called “Bill Gates,” where a figure is running clutching a stretched canvas that covers his seemingly naked body. The whole scene is an ever so subtle sight gag because the back of the stretched canvas facing us purposefully resembles the Windows 95 logo. Does the title allude to the man outsmarted by the running man, a Filipino hacker who almost caused global panic with a virus disguised as a love letter?
His painting "Professional Mishandling" is the inside of a cave that's also the interior of a skull, the picture of a mind at work. Different characters at a crude operating table work in a spectral green and purple glow. Is the mind reviving itself amidst its own shadows and imagined scenarios? A floating crystalline orb suggests mystic renewal, something beyond logic. Like many of his paintings, it’s a complex mise-en-scene of figures and subtle symbols that doubles as a commentary on the self or on the artist and his world.
The third is a set of paintings called “Arty fist,” a delectable and straightforward title. The set depicts a series of hands in misshapen gestures at the arty activity of painting. Their twisted shapes suggest the impossible and stressful quest to satisfy the creative urge, taking the mind and emotions to absurd places. The artifice is in the meaningfulness of this activity, an expression of the artist’s self-doubt or the search for purpose.
Viray’s most recent solo show’s title “How to paint like a master” and its paintings are another showcase of Viray’s relationship with art history. There is his practice of a self-conscious regurgitation of bits from images in art history books, from Western painting, from the Baroque and the Renaissance. It’s a parody of proper painting, so to speak, none of those avant garde bits or degenerate art called modernism and what else followed. It’s fitting then that the only instance of modernism that appears are hooded figures that echo Philip Guston’s Klansmen, a deluded secretive society with radical and dangerous ideas whose imagery Guston finally appropriated to mean himself or the artist. Arcane activities and compositions set in shadowy alcoves and halls of medieval buildings.
His serious looking parodies are a refusal to take art too seriously marked by figures that resemble denizens of Mad Magazine and American underground comics. Every person is ugly, clumsy, and out-of-place.
David Ryan Viray is a Filipino Contemporary artist who has had solo exhibitions at West Gallery, Kaida Contemporary, Finale Art Gallery, Secret Fresh, Sampaguita Projects, and Underground. He has participated in numerous local group exhibitions in Manila and Bacolod, as well as the Rhode Island School of Design, USA.
Source: Kaida Contemporary, Underground, @davidryanviray