Running from 10-31 March, 2022 at Qube Gallery, Cebu City, the Philippines is the exhibition “Baggage Revolution” by artist Mijan Jumalon. The paintings in the series are interconnected, forming a “multiptych”. A common landscape runs throughout, one of forked pathways and crimson prairie. The characters in the tableau are strange, often in masks and costumes (like those in The Garden of Earthly Delights (1490-1510) by Hieronymus Bosch). They also seem to be on the way (like those in The Canterbury Tales (1387-1400) of Geoffrey Chaucer).
This is a realm where everyone is waiting for something to end or something to begin. The artist’s subjects are eccentric pilgrims resting in various stages of their journey. Their diversity makes them relatable to a viewer of any age or state in life.
The Qube website elaborates: “By portraying the interactions (or lack thereof) between these varied and seemingly stranded travelers, the artist tells a tale of waiting and waning. The exhibit name prods us and casts us further into this landscape of limbo as each work’s title solidifies the notion of purgatorial locales.
“Her characters are literally and figuratively at a crossroad, this sense of stillness amplified—as in the works Terminal and Hometown—by populating her space with numerous figures, each frozen in place and keeping distance from one another. Through it all surrounds surreal foliage that evoke a veld of veins and capillaries more than grass, suggesting an internal state of mind rather than a mere external backdrop.”
As characters bide their time in this fantastical setting, they look neither entrapped nor abandoned. They may not have all the answers they want but they aren’t entirely lost and clueless, they remain purposeful. Our minds ask: What lies beyond the branching paths? What is obscured by the high grass ahead? Optimism ultimately wins out. And as we dream of exits, we are sure that sooner or later Mijan’s pilgrims will come into motion and resume their journey.
The red may also be perceived as an indication of willpower, boldness, of passion, of energy, of a desire to not give up, to go on seeking. It is this feeling of fundamental hope and positivity that makes these artworks charming.