Components of Creativity

Body Parts
Pete Jimenez
2-28 July 2011
Mag:net Gallery Katipunan

Pete Jimenez is among the few Filipino sculptors who have consistently explored the qualities of scrap metal as a medium, transforming rusty and discarded shards from junk shops into visual puns and garage-produced gems.

In his free time from work in the advertising and animation industries, Jimenez scouts around the yards of scrap metal suppliers and looks “through and into” pieces that can be reconstituted into straightforwardly witty and playful objects. The artist creates composites from these found metals, preferring to let quirks or unusual shapes to take a life of their own. Finding aesthetic value in things that would be otherwise be written off as worthless, Jimenez’s art strikes an unlikely symphony between medium and meaning, where “one’s trash becomes another’s treasure,” as the artist himself describes it.

family outingIn this recent show of new works, Jimenez produces life-size sculptures from discarded automobile body parts, particularly from old Volkswagen (VW) Beetles, Kombis, and sedan notchbacks acquired from suppliers in Pampanga province. Far from being a sullen graveyard of old cars, the show Body Parts becomes a whimsical collection of works who acquire a second life of their own as streetwise survivors with their own personal stories to tell.

Compared to Jimenez’s earlier works which were often produced from smaller junk metal pieces, this new series of sculptures is comparably large, reflecting how the artist is experimenting with much bigger dimensions and a wider selection of materials. Some works—such as those produced from VW fenders, trunks, roofs and kombi front “faces”–span up to six and seven feet high.

As with his earlier sculptures, Jimenez’s themes are drawn from incongruent and seemingly random catch phrases from popular culture and mass media, words and images that he often uses in his line of work. The artist adopts a very personal approach to re-creating each piece, trying to cast them in a different light through emphasizing the role of design.

puppy loveA lot of thought and work goes into making these objects seem like spontaneous, happy accidents or creative bursts of coincidence—into giving the viewer an impression that these quirky tales have been lying there all along for one to discover. Jimenez selects each piece and painstakingly twists and turns their dimensions into their current state. He draws out the distressed and chipped patinas of the VW metal frames and parts (which date back to the 1960s and 70s) by enhancing the original condition of the parts he salvages, exposing them to the elements and sealing in their flaws with automotive finishes.

Many of the works in this show also optimize the VW Beetle’s distinct parts and visual qualities to come up with new works. For instance, the work Raise the Roof utilizes a 1960’s VW roof, cut out from the rest of the frame, to create a much higher structure while Red Riding Hood is created from the unmistakeable curve of the VW hood and bumper. The VW Beetle’s classic rotund frame, meanwhile, is emphasized in the work Ball Park Figure, where metal parts are further curved and curled up in a tight, imperfect ball. A much smaller work, Science Project, utilizes the car’s “half moon” hub caps.

red riding hoodOver the years, Jimenez’s sustained foray into sculpture from scrap metal has established  that the exquisite can be drawn out from the everyday; that desire can be created from discards. In the end, it is Jimenez’s tireless process of discovery, improvisation and creativity which imbue a special quality to his pieces.

Signifying a transition of sorts in Jimenez’s personal work as an artist, Body Parts amuses and awes through its subjects and stories. This recent show indicates that the artist is more than ready to explore more forms and hopefully even more concerns. How the artifacts of these interesting times can attest to other realities—an entire industry spawned by the importation of scrap metal and automobiles from the First World to the Third World has long been a feature of country’s economic landscape, for instance—are possibly some of the material questions that Jimenez might very well stumble upon one of these days, while navigating through the junkyards of this ravaged land.

Body Parts opens on 2 July 2011 and runs until the 28th of the month at Mag:net Gallery, located at 335 Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City 1105. For inquiries, contact the gallery at 929.3191 or magnetgalleries@gmail.com.

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