PINEAPPLE LAB UNMASKS ITS FIRST EXHIBITION FOR 2020
Get into the mind of the woman who has mentored some of today’s most talented visual artists and mother to one of Philippine Theater’s most-gifted young actresses – in what she says could one of her last exhibitions.
“I start with nothing. No preconceived ideas, no studies, no nothing. But this emotion I have inside of me in that moment? How do I express this emotion?”
With her instinctual, visceral approach to creating new work, Yasmin Almonte allows her thoughts and emotions to unravel organically. “I paint very fast. I can finish a work in three hours,” Yasmin says about her process, an instantaneous surge of paint and passion. The result can be seen in her new exhibition Unmasked, a journey through her diaristic process and a celebration of life through a deeply expressionistic and vital series of paintings.
Currently a professor at the University of the Philippines with a Masters of Arts Degree in Painting from the University of Northern Iowa, she brings her mastery of technique to an annual solo exhibition of her works. Her new show at Pineapple Lab, Unmasked, is a collection of paintings created over the past year, reflecting the movements of her day-to-day life as well as her liberation from fear and loneliness.
A cancer survivor, Yasmin has long-portrayed the evolution of her attitude towards life and those around her. “My works were galit, maangas, angsty,” she says of her oeuvre prior to her diagnosis with malignant fibrous histiocytoma nearly ten years ago. “My work started changing because my cancer taught me to be many things. Before cancer, I felt so alone and unloved…and I hated it. I learned to be forgiving. I learned that people loved me and wanted me to live. My paintings changed from that black and red period to flowers, to vibrant colors, to life.”
Variations on flowers, be it in full bloom, in color, or wilting, is a featured subject in Yasmin’s works, embodying the dynamism of her own thoughts and emotions. One work, entitled “BEYOND MEMORIES” curiously features unpainted outlines of flowers. “I thought, my god! I don’t need to paint the flowers because the flowers are gone. I cannot bring the flowers back. They are just memories,” Yasmin says. Embracing the feeling of loss, she left the flowers in their sketch form and painted the negative space surrounding them. Yasmin says, “When I paint it’s my way of reaching out, of taking away, of being able to exhale from the pain and expose it onto canvas and make something sad or painful into something beautiful.”
She owes much of her zeal to those around her, especially her daughter, the theatre actress, director, and professor Missy Maramara, who she has portrayed in a painting called “The Actress.” Depicting Missy in the taxing title role of “Ang Dalagita’y Isang Bagay na ‘di Buo” (staged by Dulaang UP In 2018), she not only expresses the character’s sorrow, but also highlights the generosity and unyielding spirit of the artist behind it.
After thirty-three years of practice, and having taught some of today’s most prominent contemporary visual artists like Leeroy New, Celeste Lecaroz, Marc Malto, Riel Jaramillo Hilario, Rebie Picazo Ramoso, Louie Talents, Leo Veloso, and a plethora of others, she feels that this may be one of her last exhibitions. “This is a very weak body, but not a weak soul,” Yasmin says. Even then, her work and sense of resolve have become more vital than ever. “When I am painting, I forget my labels, I forget my body, I forget my age. I am getting stronger.”
Unmasked opens January 24, 2020 at 6 PM. Works will be available for viewing starting January 24, 2020 to February 2, 2020. Pineapple Lab Gallery is located at 6053 R. Palma Street, Barangay Poblacion, Makati City. Operating hours are 11 AM to 6 PM from Tuesdays through Sundays.
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