Published October 22, 2020
One can think of Kitty Kaburo's paintings as science fiction poetry. Just think of her kaleidoscopic rendering, digital manipulation, and nebulous stories about the fate of nature and civilization involved in her painting process. And from a material and a thematic perspective, Kaburo's colorful experimentations suggest an awareness of dualities -- the ephemeral and the permanent, destruction and creation, the organic and the toxic, the microscopic and the cosmic.
In her oil-on-canvas paintings, plants and colorful radioactive glows abound. These don't seem to be of distant planets. She instead presents impending altered landscapes in the future or in the mind’s eye. They are reflections on the effects of time and human civilization on the natural world.
Some clues can be found in the story of "Hologram John," a character she invented and presented as a multi-colored prism in her 2018 exhibition, “Out of Time.” John is a kind of oracle, imagining futuristic disruptions in an infinite loop. These disruptions however aren't the "steep steel structures floating in the sky and streamlined transports" that we imagine we can fashion out of nature.
Hologram John’s loop presents jungles encroaching and engulfing man-made structures, man communing naked with nature. A radioactive glow emits from the horizon. Strange natural forms emerge from a forest. Kaburo’s imagery suggests an end or wiping away of history, a rebirth, one where nature regains control. It is a fitting theme, given these uncertain times of climate change disasters and pandemics.
Kitty Kaburo is a Filipino artist of Korean descent, who has had solo shows in some of the top galleries in the country. She was shortlisted for the Ateneo Art Awards in 2017.