Exploding Idols, 2010
Exploding Idols Series, 2009
1987, ‘Falling Rocks from Heaven’
The elements of nature are displayed in this artwork from 1987. Tagged as “Falling Rocks from Heaven”, this installation is composed of resine polyester, clay, and stones over white cement.
1996 Metropolitan Museum of Manila
Scattered objects on a board complete the artwork that was displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. -Gaston Damag
A bricked structure emphasizes the sturdiness of this display.
This piece of artwork showcases two opposing elements — the black and white colors of the figures and their fixed and damaged forms.
Canard is the French word for “duck.” In this artwork, Gaston Damag forms a spectral image of a duck on a bare wall with the light projected over the surface
This artwork fuses commercialization with culture. The Ifugao wooden identity known as bulul consumes and expels the famous soft drink, Coca-cola.
In this innovative installation, the Ifugao bululs (wooden deities) converge with steel scaffolds aligning their positions. Fusing culture with innovation, this artwork signifies the relationship betwen the two.
A lone Ifugao bulul (wooden deity) sits on a pew. As one of the prominent artworks of Gaston Damag, this piece fuses the concepts of intercultural symphony that’s relevant in his home country, the Philippines. Pews are used for sitting in Christian churches, and cultural icons are still being used by indigenous communities today.
The Ifugao bulul, a sacred wooden deity in the rich highlands of northern Philippines, spins with a machine in this artwork by Gaston Damag. Known for his heritage, Gaston integrates the elements of his culture into his works.
Dito Ay Doon
“Dito ay doon” is a contrasting Filipino phrase that means “What’s here is there.” This artwork consists of cursive letters in the form of lights hanging on a wall.
Exposition Dexia Banque Bulul
An Ifugao bulul (miniature wooden deity) hangs upside down amidst the trees.
Exposition Dexia Banque
Orange metal beams criss-cross over a field outdoors.
St Godas France, Installation
Ifugao bululs (wooden deities) coverge among steel scaffolds in this display.
La Ligne Rouge: Chapter IV
MAIA MULLER GALLERY PARIS | FRANCE JUN 12,2020 – JUL 23,2020
Gaston Damag: Love Me Tender
MAIA MULLER GALLERY PARIS | FRANCE SEP 05,2019 – OCT 05,2019
MAIA MULLER GALLERY PARIS | FRANCE DEC 08,2017 – JAN 28,2018
Angel Velasco Shaw. The Inverted Telescope
THE DRAWING ROOM, MAKATI MAKATI | PHILIPPINES MAY 27,2017 – JUN 20,2017
The Inverted Telescope exhibition is inspired by what I interpret to be transnationalist experiences of people—Filipino artists, in this context, who left their homelands to either study, visit, or live in western countries and were inspired and/or influenced by these cultures, art practices, and mindsets. The phrase is coined by the late Benedict Anderson in his introduction of The Spectre of Comparisons:Nationalism, Southeast Asia, and The World. This exhibition is dedicated to his spirit.
Gaston Damag: Ifugao Red
THE DRAWING ROOM, MAKATI MAKATI | PHILIPPINES OCT 04,2014 – NOV 15,2014
The artist revisits the figure dwelling in the object, making sure it does not harden into alienated matter. The object itself, the ubiquitous carved image of deity or bulul in the ethnic imagination, has already been captured as “culture,” after all. The latter is a condition that is by its nature a corruption, and so disabuses any notion of the authentic or the pristine. In the exceptional space of the museum, instrument of this capture in the history of the institution, Gaston Damag does not merely represent the object and appropriate its signifying potency. Rather, he renders it spirited. For the bulul finally figures in a state of play, loses its aura, and suffers the projections of varied interests onto it: heritage, souvenir, art.
At the heart of this civilizational and institutional critique is a reflection on modernism. In terms of procedure, Damag first isolates the bulul as object. He carves out a certain autonomy for it by situating it within rational schemas like the grid, or predictable patterns so that shape or texture could surface as aspects of beautiful, but and because reified, form. Alongside the bulul are other indices of ethnicity that are likewise recast as formal figurations, like knives and pestles, assembled with precision and perspicacity.
Powers That Be
THE DRAWING ROOM, MAKATI MAKATI | PHILIPPINES JAN 10,2014 – FEB 16,2014
Gaston Damag: Homage to the Culture of Rice
THE DRAWING ROOM, MAKATI MAKATI | PHILIPPINES OCT 23,2013 – NOV 24,2013
In looking at Gaston Damag’s works we fall prey to exoticizing the symbols that occur regularly at the center of his works, dwelling on the context of his lineage of Ifugao. Coming from the material culture of his tribe, the bulul and the knives peculiar to Ifugao farmers and shamans are, after all, far removed from the everyday lived experience in cities outside the Cordillera region in the Northern Philippines. They exist to us non-participants of the Ifugao community as souvenirs and passive players in ethnographic studies. However, through Damag’s practice, their use is less of a flag-waving strategy than a practice in identifying a history of visual representation of cultures.
Damag derives from what he knows and what he has. As a constituent of the Ifugao community, he is privy to creation and function of these wooden anthromorphic figures – the bulul – as gods or guardians that protect rice cultivation and harvests; and they are objects of ritual and territorial indication. The boomerang-shaped knives, on the other hand, operate as tools for daily activities within the community but also for particular ones such as shamanic rites. These articles fulfill certain conditions in the motions of his community – a community surrounding a “culture of rice”. Rice is to the Ifugao as bread is to the Christians – traditions surround them and forms become attach to them. In this case, the bulul is employed by Damag not only to ground the culture he participates in but also as visual method of focus and deconstruction. He fuses these symbols with diverse modern industrial materials to address the ways a non-western ethnic culture can navigate a cultural perspective dominated by the West. The crucial experience that determined the direction of his works was the artist’s visit to the Museum of Man in New York in the 80’s where, to his dismay, paraphernalia of his extended family were framed in the context of human evolution of past and present. This presented a conundrum in the difference in the notion of time (and consequently of existential and artistic positions); at that moment he began to carry the thought: “If I am a man of the past, where is my place?”
Damag proposes something else in response to the empirical narrative of cultures by incorporating visual art devices in a proposition to new ways of looking at these objects and bringing them to our contemporary world. As a sculptor he pushes the limits of material – in both conditions as Ifugao and also a man of present time. The bululs are fused with architectonic structures – cut up, reassembled, dissolved – to perform new objects. Physical gestures emulate ritualistic ones and these guardians of the mountains are driven into serial derivations that permit us to recognize that even though we begin to read the bululs in their context, we are to depart from that interpretation and come to recognize that they are only forms in which he explores formalist devices through. In the same vein, thebalangya knives deviate from their representation of their actual function in the Cordilleras. It is their form, rather than function, that Damag is interested in re-presenting. And, as a painter, he investigates surfaces through photographic images of landscapes also close to his lived experience. He makes the mountains of Manila “rain” as he strips the images to discover what makes a photograph a painting through the colors of a digital print.
Damag provides to us the frame of looking from the visual arts sense where we would usually use the ethnographic lens to look at the material culture of communities removed from us. The authenticity of these objects comes from him as an active participant of the Ifugao while the legitimacy of their peculiar formats in Damag’s practice is proven in his lifework as a contemporary artist questioning the roles and histories of visual representation. We exoticise, then we realize the motions at play in these works. In the consciousness of those conditions can we then partake in how these objects proceed to construct meaning.