Over the centuries, many artists, including the great masters, have indulged us with their depictions of the human body. In the modern times, can there be new ways to present the human form? Regina Margarita “Ina” Jardiolin, a promising young visual artist whose works give viewers a glimpse of possible new takes on gender issues in Philippine art, tells us that in fact, there is.
In Stripped: A Solo Exhibit, Ina explores the landscape of the human body, imbuing it with interesting touches of whimsy and fantasy. In each of the 13 pieces, the 25-year old graduate of Painting from the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts bravely combines the mundane and ethereal, for a collection that is at once familiar and novel.
Consider, for instance, the painting entitled “Stripped Collection 1” In the foreground, a naked man/woman is shown standing, eyes downcast. In the backdrop, a row of snake plants with flowers, which she chose because a snake can change its sex when necessary. Between the human figure and the plants is a blanket of starry skies
In another (Stripped Collection 2), two human figures seem to be staring right at the viewer, while at the back, just beneath a stream of blue space, there are three butterflies gloriously spread out. That the wings are not identical is an important detail, Ina is quick to explain. The butterflies are gynandromorphs – or organisms literally born half-male and female. Indeed, most of the elements in Ina’s paintings represent the fluid nature and duality of gender and sexuality.
“The juxtaposition of the landscape of outer space is always there as a representation of the vastness of possibilities, and the never ending change that goes on within and beyond us as individuals,” she explains.
More importantly, Ina presents her take on femininity and masculinity. Through her works, rendered meticulously using a bold color palette, she questions the society’s ideals of beauty, sex, and gender roles, while at the same time inviting the viewer to embrace both male and female energies.
To this end, Ina shares that she tried to make the figures androgynous, “a balance of both sexes.” True enough, in every painting, it is hard to identify whether her subject is a man or a woman. Where there is long hair, there will be a very angular face; where there is hint of smooth curves, there will be a very muscular torso. It’s as if she wants us to stop guessing, and instead focus on the more relevant questions.
Aside from the framed paintings, Ina also presented paintings rendered on old now rare wooden shoe lasts – an apparent homage to her origins, she being part of the Jardiolin family, thirty years in the shoe industry with shoe brands Confetti, Marikina Shoe Exchange and Natasha. This time, Ina is taking the family name to another realm of visual design using a theme that is close to her heart.
“The roles we play are defined by what is born between our legs: the Feminine and Masculine. To be successful at the feminine must act maternal, reserved, quiet and soft. To be successful at the masculine one must be strong, bold and adventurous, unafraid at pain. But who decided that one’s genitals defined one’s role in life? Why does it define our personality?”
To see how Ina Jardiolin used her paintbrush and canvas to tackle these questions catch the Stripped: A Solo Exhibit. It will be on display from October 5 to 20, 2014 at Kaida Contemporary Gallery located at 45 Sct. Madrinan Street, South Triangle, Quezon City, Metro Manila.