David Griggs’ initial attraction to Manila was that it encompasses a painting culture in both urban and art practices. Perhaps the latter springs from one of the city’s ideas of development which involves “painting over things.” Facades of new establishments, built mostly on concrete, are given a paint finish. At the same time, to mend dilapidated constructions does not mean reconstructing their disintegrated parts but instead involves a decision on giving them a new slather of colour. Overall, Manila is a mural city mapping territories by the surface.
It is in the capital centre that Griggs adopted a more sophisticated, if not new, manner of painting. Drawing from the sensorial glut of Manila, Frat of the Obese uncovers Manila’s palette and unpicks its imagery and events. The seriality in the works informs the excess present in the metropolis, establishing an uncertainty as to whether this exorbitance is the city gorging itself or the city’s waste.
This new series allows neither room to be sparse nor a perspective linear enough to trace how each element harmonizes with another. As with the plywood that alludes to uneven, low-ceilinged spaces in Manila, one rather has to duck through them to realize each painting’s depth.
As much as the works from Frat of the Obese are founded on recurring images from Griggs’ atlas of the place in which he has situated himself to for the last two years, these icons merely form the axis which his language navigates. Painting for him operates more on the syntax of elements – blending incongruous emblems and slogans, making portraits while making a return to basic forms.
Siddhartha Pérez, 2011
Press release courtesy Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.