Politics and Abstraction in Allain Hablo’s “Bleed and Bloom II”

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With its rich textures carefully layered over pours of paint, Allain Hablo’s art reminds us of why we look at abstraction. We examine what form it suggests. We wonder what the colors convey. And we look for the meaning behind its composition.

For decades, meanings have been assigned to abstractions – oftentimes perceived (from the audience) and sometimes intrinsic (by the artists). When people talk about Hablo’s work people refer to his paintings as “industrial” with the colors being reminiscent of steel, rust, and aged machines. His early abstractions possess the physicality of a worn-out metal, telling stories with its rough surface markings. This technique is achieved by brushing, staining, and scraping the canvas as if he is sculpting its surface. His other series of paintings is a homage to kintsugi, the Japanese art of fixing broken jars and vases. Hablo makes the canvas appear like a surface of a jar, he then paints the crack with gold, breaking the flow of the audience’s eyes as they look at the canvas from one side to another. His choice of where to place the crack on the canvas makes the painting whole.

In Bleed and Bloom, Hablo explains that the emergence of rose in different shades, a color present in the paler shade in his previous paintings, is a result of his dismay over the elections. Allain Hablo actively campaigned for Leni Robredo during the elections even going out of his busy painting schedule to help paint murals in Iloilo City and other municipalities in the province. Actively participating in political issues came as no surprise, as Hablo himself studied Political Science. His earlier hyperrealist works depicted undertones of social commentaries. Whether, Bleed and Bloom, is a result of the artist’s trepidation, it remains hopeful as other colors are also introduced by the artist to his canvas.

The pieces in Bleed and Bloom seem like a continuation of Hablo’s previous series, only from a different vantage point. The viewer can look at the canvas and feel the view from above as if one is looking at a landscape bordered by flowing cracks of gold, and paths drenched in drips of burgundy. All of these are blurred by motion created by sweeps of huge brush strokes. Some pieces appear less blurry than others as if the landscapes are sitting below a cloudless sky. Perhaps, this is what Hablo has perfected through the years of painting abstractions — the commitment to achieve an epiphanic image.

Bleed and Bloom II is currently on view at Mamusa Art Gallery in Festive Walk Parade, Iloilo Business Park. Photos for this article were contributed by Joebert Uygongco/Secret Art Shop

Allyn Canja
Allyn Canja works for a contemporary art museum in Iloilo City.
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