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Take a break from social media

/ 12:26 AM November 18, 2016

Social media has become so toxic these days that one needs to take a break from it to preserve one’s composure—and friendships. One also needs to get away from the distraction of social media to get work done. Facebook, for example, has evolved so much in the past few years that it should be studied by sociologists, anthropologists and psychologists to see how it has changed the way we live and the way we handle relationships online and off.

There are certain things one says online with a click of a mouse that one will never say to another person face to face without risking a punch in the nose or the discomfort that comes when one draws tears. But of late, with Duterte, Trump and the Marcos burial, some people have drawn lines online where there used to be none. Politics is divisive, but in the era before social media people were able to live with others’ views and opinions. There was more patience, tolerance and understanding in the world. These days I would read rants online like: “If you like Duterte, Trump, or Marcos you can unfriend me because we have never been friends from the start.”

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Many people have to relearn how to interact in the real world, to turn off phones at a dining table and indulge in face-to-face, rather than virtual, conversations. A posted photo of the “supermoon” can never match the experience of seeing it yourself. A good book might be available online, but the taste of ice cream on a hot day you can never get from your computer, tablet, or phone screen.

Aside from enjoying the gift of life or being with people you genuinely like, there are other ways to take a break from social media. Visiting the National Museum, for example, to look and think about the artifacts on display instead of taking selfies with them, can be a rewarding experience. At the Ateneo Art Gallery there are four exhibits going on at the same time, showing art by various artists in various periods to suit every taste and temperament. An ongoing exhibit of works by Arturo Luz took my mind off social media for a while. At its opening last Wednesday I delivered this appreciation:

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“At 90, National Artist Arturo R. Luz has lived beyond the mandatory retirement ages of 60 or 65 and continues to work, producing over 300 drawings during a recent hospital confinement. A selection of these crude drawings, photographed and blown up, will comprise yet another series of art based on a unique, instinctive, almost magical, sense of design.

“Luz drawings and collages, belittled by auction houses and collectors as ‘minor works’ or even derisively as ‘works on paper,’ are worth a closer look because these form the backbone of his art, the initial steps to painting. Whether drawing the stylized stick figures that have since become his trademark, or spinning the intricate web of lines that form his imaginary cityscapes, Luz produced and continues to produce drawing after drawing, in an attempt to exhaust all possible forms and permutations. The seemingly random act of throwing different elements on an empty piece of paper to form a collage is an elegant expression of design. The recent geometric sculpture in Philippine hardwood is actually figurative—the ancient ‘anito’ made modern.

“Luz works from his imagination. The performers, acrobats, troubadours and nudes that fill canvas and paper are all invented, like the Japanese or Chinese-sounding titles he gives to some of his works. When he does take from the real world by photographing boxes, shells, and even leaves that litter his garden, Luz transforms them into otherworldly still lifes that seem to come from his imagination as well.

“Luz breathes new life into old works: transforming a tired series of prints by adding collage; instead of discarding rejected photographic proofs he cut them up into collages; adding shell, stone, or leaf to a collage and photographing these into a new series of still life. The possibilities seem endless for an artist whose mind and eye are perpetually at work.

“This modest exhibition, mounted to celebrate the artist’s 90th birthday, provides a glimpse into his ‘luz’—the light in his creative process.”  (#[email protected] runs till April 2017.)

Comments are welcome at [email protected]

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TAGS: art, Arturo Luz, Ateneo Art Gallery, National Museum, politics, social media
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