Allan Cosio Works from the 80's to the Present
October 19 - November 17, 2015
Allan Cosio’s Benches pierce spatial dimensions -- thrusting, dominating, imposing their massive presence on their surroundings. The variables, four pieces of wood hewn and shaped, from Philippine hardwood, take the form of benches on seats that deliberately extend their legs sideways. Benches seems intentionally provocative, its title a trifle misleading or perhaps deliberately paradoxical and inconguous. The viewer seeks for the usual function pertinent to this structure only to be met with a mental poser. How does one sit on a bench that does not function as a bench?
Cosio, the sculptor presents the viewer with an aesthetic dilemma worth delving into. His purposeful incursions into the the nature of materials for the sake of sculptural integrity becomes an apparent concern. Geometrically shaped and reduced to their basic monolithic forms, they represent the Philippine moderm sculptors’ break from years of naturalistic tradition. Cosio’s sculptures as typified by his Benches remain integrally true to their organic origin whose qualities are further heightened by the deliberate use of raw and unfinished surfaces. Their massiveness and solidity serve to strengthen the primordial character of hardwood or forest timber reminiscent of logs and felled trees from sawmills, lumberyards and the many forested areas of the Philippines. In this particular work, Cosio’s materials came by a circuitous route: from the thick forests of Bataan in northern Luzon to his own region, Pampanga whre Betis carvers have enjoyed decades of native woodcarving tradition.
Cosio wrestles with problems of balance and three dimensionality as he attempts to convey his ideas into the medium. His approach to sculpture remains inherently masculine, assertive of male or macho dominance echoing Philippine hierarchic society; there is much to be said of how he chooses to convey basic Filipino characteristics in his sculptures, gleaned to a certain extent in his similarly conceived geometrical paintings. The unseen hand of our unconscious tradition becomes apparent only after careful examination of his artistic range. Sublimal images that come to mind bear a close resemblance to the Asian and oriental penchant for linear and geometric configurations. Certain archetypal qualities harking back to ancestral cults also become apparent. Certain totemic qualities come to mind. And just as his symbols of virtility and strength merge with a reductivist’s notion of simplicity and linearity, Cosio’s intensely personal symbols dominate the environment quietly claiming their rightful place.