Friday, June 8, 2007


By Joel Ferraris

These paintings were inspired by the advent of celfones or mobile phones as we popularly call them. These new gadgets in multi-color supply, flooding the streets of every city or even remote areas of the globe of its users, were sensibly transformed from luxurious pieces of technology to objects of necessity in the present age.

I jokingly told a friend that as humans evolved from cave-dwelling beings into civilized to modern to hi-tech to cyber intelligent professionals so were their tools.

Clubs were used by cavemen to gather food and for other purposes. These instruments evolved into swords that stab and slice, to arrows that fly and pierce, to guns and rifles with their thunderous bangs and now we have the celfones.

They all have the same track record of purposes – to gather food and as weapons for self-defense or destruction.

With mobile phones one could order burger or pizza, say a last farewell to loved ones as one prepares to detonate a bomb several miles away. Bad!

As this story continues, we realize that the sudden proliferation of these products was actually due to the inevitable demands of this age of consumerism, wherein we are encouraged to innovate, to sell and sell and at the same time to spend and buy and buy and spend.

We work in companies small or big to act as tools for marketing because we need to survive and at the same time support our family. And so we buy too.

We are all part of a trend dictated by the economy.

We are pawns - the front-liners in selling products out there in the streets or in the convenience of our offices. Whether we believe in the product itself or not is not important at all. All we need to do is to survive.

Come to think of it, in the game of chess, pawns are the sacrificial lambs before the king is cornered in a checkmate, most probably by another pawn.

SALE PAWN 1 and SALEPAWN 2 are mixed media pieces I completed in 1997. They were done 100% here in Hong Kong. The meticulous rendition of the colorful and randomly juxtaposed "malltitude" (as in "shopping mall attitude") of people only reflects the atmosphere of cities where people are contained in boxes and life measured per square foot. It is just a finger-tip space compared to what we enjoy in the provinces.

I presented these two artworks in a manner by which viewers could see different subjects depending on the vantage point they prefer to view them. Going near to scrutinize the details, viewers could see lots of people squeezed into or overlayed on top of each other to project the feeling of how crowded urban areas are. On the other hand, from a far distance, the single figure of a person using a celfone is revealed. This image common nowadays could serve as modern day icons to symbolize the digital age of communication.

I once asked myself: Where have all these people came from? (Myself included!!!!!!!)

SALEPAWN #2 was exhibited twice. The first was in 1997 in RAPID REFLECTIONS, a Two-Man Show with fellow Filipino Artist Justo Cascante, at the John Batten Gallery in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong. The second time was in BAGGAGE at the Shaw College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2002.

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