Origami cranes and faceless figures tell a story about healing and self-discovery in online art exhibit

photos courtesy of Ronald Gonzales
photos courtesy of Ronald Gonzales

Emerging Filipino contemporary artist Ryan Uy holds his first solo show, At the Brink of Dawn, online at Qube Gallery on August 19 to September 2. Using images of origami cranes and faceless boys that he has become known for, Uy tells the story of his own journey of self-discovery and healing as he navigates life one year after his father’s death.

The idea of using origami images was born from the ancient Japanese belief that your wish will come true if one folds a thousand paper cranes. “When my father was diagnosed with cancer, I started folding origami cranes hoping that my wish would be granted. Sadly, he passed before I could even complete the thousandth piece. I knew I would never get my wish, so I used the cranes instead as a metaphor for my grief.”

'Fences' by Ryan Uy
“Fences” by Ryan Uy
'I Dreamt About You' by Ryan Uy
“I Dreamt About You” by Ryan Uy

The faceless boys that figure heavily in his pieces, he says, represent himself and many others who are going through the same struggles. “It is my way of saying, I know what you’re going through, and I empathize with you. It is a reminder that there is a lesson underneath all that pain. And that things always get better with time.”

Unlike his previous works, there is restraint in these pieces. They are more minimalist, colors are more muted, almost monochromatic, with an element of poetry hidden beneath the layers of paint. “Before, my first instinct was to fill every space of my canvasses with origami cranes because I wanted to be reminded of the pain of losing my dad, not knowing that painting them over and over would help me heal.”

'This is for You' by Ryan Uy
“This is for You” by Ryan Uy
'Walk with Grief' by Ryan Uy
“Walk with Grief” by Ryan Uy

Aside from faceless heads, Ryan has showed a liking for painting other body parts as evidenced in his earlier work, “This is for You,” where two hands hold out pieces of origami cranes. His “Walk with Grief” series features legs – perhaps of the boys painted in his other canvases – that either go left, right, or in forward direction, which seem to suggest that whatever route you take, they will all lead you somewhere.

At the Brink of Dawn runs from August 19 to September 2 at qubegallery.ph. Physical exhibit is scheduled to open tentatively on August 21 at Qube Gallery, Cross Roads, Gov. M. Cuenco Avenue, Cebu City, pending the lifting of quarantine restrictions.

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