Art Fair Philippines, 18 – 21 February 2016

5th – 7th floors, The Link Carpark, Makati City

(click on images for artwork details)

Double Take

Mark Justiniani’s recent installations demonstrate depth of experience within a constructed environment. Initial pieces for his Infinity series were singular installation works, ones that allowed us to imagine space in multiple dimensions. They presented time spliced and woven in multiple designs, while all along reminding that they are visual illusions. The works are altogether presented in Apologia, a sumptuous and luminescent theatre simultaneously fascinating and profound.


Infinity is fitting title to the series as it connotes innumerable and multi-faceted encounters. In them, Justiniani ferries a sense of grandeur alongside enchanting intricacy. The series include a pit of mirrors, a swerving track, a deep tunnel, a dark cavern, a cathedral nave, the belly of an atom collider, several replicated in the current ensemble. In them, vision and experience are inextricably entwined. We enter a darkened space, teeter on the precipice of an abyss, tread an undulating path, rest in a room of reflections, replicated and severed all the same. The experience is best captured across a spectrum of wonder and rapture. They unfold in space and time revealing skilled manipulations of form and light, these structures that embody ideas shaped either by the spirit’s profound distance or life’s unnerving immediacy.


Apologia assumes the structure of colonial cathedrals and their baroque altarpieces. The artist tinkers with the label ‘contemporary artist’, mangling and twisting the phrase to insinuate a trial, a test, even judgment. Calling forth the artifice of art, Justiniani ponders our complex experience of art and for his part, the burden and freedom foisted by or gained from making the vessels of these experiences. Stepping into a darkened room, we are ushered into a space steeped in ritualised belief, much like the hallowed but elusive atmosphere of Stonehenge or Banahaw mountain. Mark Justiniani renders complex contradictions between shallow and deep space, the interplay between the receding and advancing trajectory of the gaze, the scale and intensities of dark and light. In the coalition of architectonic quality and plasticity, the oscillations between surface and depth, the eventual flattening and consequent dematerialisation of our bodies, we are summoned to reflect on the tensions between seeing, believing, and becoming.


Apologia and Justiniani’s other installation works activate viewing and motion at several levels: by animating spatial depth to suggest action, by using enclosed and layered screens to assemble and construct plasticity, and by modulating light to enliven enveloping space. These techniques articulate a ‘shift in modality’ in the way we experience multidimensionality in contemporary art (Potts 2001). The shift results from the greater role ‘staging’ plays in shaping our experience of art works. Monumental and ambitious in operation and scale, these pieces may perhaps make us momentarily forget that Justiniani is consummate painter, adept at drawing and painting, keenly attuned to the vicissitudes of scale, skillful in deploying space both in two- or three-dimensions, and most important, perpetually preoccupied with pondering the foundations of art making – which is after all the invention of new systems and codes of reality.


Our experience emerges from currents of ‘containment and dispersal’, the outcome of staging elements and forms in a manner that plays with what is visible to the eye, a trick on vision. This ultimately speaks of a condition that pervades contemporary life: the teeming abundance of screens, our fascination with appearances, a flatness that threatens to obliterate our material bodies, and an overarching desire to capture and grasp a comprehensible version of the real.

 – Tessa Maria Guazon

Cited work
Potts, Alex. 2001. “Installation and Sculpture” in the Oxford Art Journal 24:2, 7-23. 2 

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