Beyond Carnal: “May We Meet Again” by Tano Panaligan at Art Elaan

The fact that people come and go never gets easier. Indeed, to forget just feels too cruel. As Ellie Wiesel once said, “To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time”. Sometimes we don’t realize that our refusal to say goodbye is just as cruel to ourselves as it is to the one that got away. How many works of art, music, and literature have been created as a tribute to someone special but is out of our reach? We felt the agony when Leonardo from Christopher Nolan’s “Memento” said, “I can’t remember to forget you”, even though we ourselves have never experienced amnesia literally. The same applies when David Foster Wallace wrote the words “Everything I ever let go of has claw marks on it” in Infinite Jest. And if the Panay-Visayan creation myth is to be believed, the whole world was created when Tungkung Langit said, “At nangangahulugan bang tululan mo na akong kalimutan?”

Historically, grotesque depictions were used to degrade people, reducing the otherwise noble and ideal to nothing more than the material. Tano Panaligan does the opposite. The artist performs an autopsy of the characters in his portraits, exposing layers of skin underneath of which we could only hope to get to the core of one’s soul. Humanity is not taken apart from the characters, instead it shows our vulnerability. The surreal, disjointed anatomical parts are used to express the struggles that invariably affect us all regardless of who we are.

Tano Panaligan is known for his pop surrealist works which reveal an affinity for the grotesque, an autopsy of disjointed anatomical parts in intricate detail evolving into something other than, yet still recognizably, human. He combines the real with the imaginary; the corporeal with the internal. By doing so, he depicts the state of feeling plagued and alienated in its most physical manifestation. Tano is a self-taught artist from Lipa City, Batangas. Since 2011, he has been featured in several group shows and started having solo shows since 2014.

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Nicole Lasquety

A visual artist and writer with a passion for media exploration, where big ideas are commonplace. Art, theater, personal essays. lasquetynicole@gmail.com