Dr. Sketchy's Anti Art School has been some of Gunship Revolution's oldest friends in the Philippine art scene, having supported nearly all of our workshops a few years back. After some time on hiatus, they've made a comeback with a new show last Saturday night at Vinyl on Vinyl in Makati. To celebrate, the crew of Gunship Revolution's Wolfram Division dropped in for a night of performance art, music, and live drawing.
A NIGHT WITH DR. SKETCHY'S
Being freelancers, and mostly being introverted ones at that, public art shows are very rare occasions for us and a few of the guys have not been with Gunship Revolution since before their last show before this one. The concept however was actually quite simple: you sit down on the floor with your art tools, there is a performance set to music, they pause at a pose for anywhere between five and twenty-five minutes, and you capture the pose before the performance resumes. Drinks are available outside during intermissions and there's a cafe right beside the gallery venue.
A UNIQUE TAKE ON AN INTERNATIONAL BRAND
This is the local iteration of an international brand - Dr. Sketchy's Anti Art School - that originated out of Brooklyn in 2005 though the experience was distinctly Filipino. The performers, known as "Ang Mga Nilalang," were like wild spirits from half-forgotten myths, gleaming with painted white bodies as they writhed and contorted to music. They danced to haunting beats provided by Chiko & Miguel Hernandez of Wilderness, as if caught in some ancient fertility ritual or a retelling some profane folktale. Punctuating that atmosphere were costumes and props by award-winning costumer and production designer Carlo Tabije (of the hit movie Heneral Luna, among others), consisting of matted wigs and loin coverings and wings. However, it's also not difficult to see that it captures the spirit of the brand's roots quite well: the original's performances had been Burlesque Cabarets where artists were invited to capture tableaus of the human body with all its sensuality and tension.
DRAWING FROM HISTORY
As the Wolfram guys sketched the performance before them, the image of Toulouse-Lautrec and his Moulin Rouge came to mind as well as the entire art movement that swept Paris during the height of the Bohemians - Van Gogh, Degas, Cezanne, Gauguin, taking-in the light of the newly-invented electric bulb to be inspired by music and dance. Also, there was Warhol and his Studio 54 and the culture of fashion, film and music that gravitated in and out from it. Even Leonardo himself drew from live models to the sound of live music. There is something to sketching from life that lends to deeper insights of what you're drawing and the performance, I believe, draws that out even further.
A RARE BUT ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCE
While books and internet resources have always been our bread and butter as freelancers, events like Dr. Sketchy's is a reminder of art experiences from other ages that impacted world culture in significant ways. At the very least, it is a chance to practice drawing real bodies doing things real bodies usually don't - like lie down in a kind of half-split with the back arched for twenty minutes. At its best though, it represents how different art styles and art forms could meet to inform each other over drinks and short rounds of Pokemon Go. It is a reminder that art cannot exist in a vacuum and that conversations between mediums is the stuff great artistic movements are made of.
END OF SHOW
After the performance closed, the artists lined up their night's work, showing them to the performers. They chose one each to win the prizes of the night, a shirt from Cebu-based graphic designer Nick Automatic and PhP500 store credit from the event's co-presenter Art Whale Philippines. After that, the guys and I said goodbye to our generous hosts and parted ways. As Freelancers, art shows were never something we frequented. With Sketchy's back on the scene though, I believe you can expect Gunship Revolution there again.