May 28th, 2012 by Leo Plaw

Spectres of Mnemosyne – Gromyko Semper

"Spectre of Orpheus", Gromyko Semper

"Spectre of Orpheus", Gromyko Semper

In his first exhibition in 2010, Gromyko Semper was both iconoclast and aniconist in his parodying and mocking icons of religion (especially Roman Catholic) and (especially religious) history. But perhaps cognizant of the fact that a parody of any sort of iconography qua a socio-political act necessarily manufactures an alternative system of iconography (iconoclasm/aniconism as its own iconography), opening thus itself to a counter-visual criticism of its visual criticism, Semper now turns to explore iconoclasm’s other option – postmodernism’s self-questioning and self-flagellating embrace of semiotics’ Marxist denouncement of both icon- and iconoclastic-touting.

Semper’s new works of woodcut-looking large drawings, find inspiration the art of Ukiyo-e and Albín Brunovský.The drawings are teamed with responses in poetry by American poet William Nace Jr. Nace’s postmodern poems likewise have a William Blake like flavour, peppered with surrealism, Dada, contemporary music, and ironic mythologies urging a more eclectic Christianity (Nace is a former pastor). These selected literary poesies add extra layers of nuance to Semper’s drawings.

Gromyko Semper‘s exhibition creates a series of new private icons whose feet nonetheless rest on the ground. “I made them look like icons but I took off the halo they should have had I wanted them to be ‘fernal’, as opposed to infernal, that is to say of this world and part of it.” He builds his new alternative icons instead of scolding old ones, engineering a new democracy of iconographies, which democracy and vouching for the private memory could be the better weapon against any iconography’s bigotry and consequent authoritarianism. Semper sees these icons as portraits of our respective selves as physical figures of vanity for social consideration and awe but of our respective inner selves as “mnemosynes” of honesty. 

The artist intends the viewer to notice that the characters in his “portraits of memory” derive from our collective (international) memory of fairy tales, legends, myths, fables and other cosmological sources, each a jumbled child of mnemonics born of this memory’s confused splicing of their sources’ genes, producing thus a new community with its own potential symbology and semiosis almost independent of their parents’ own. With these new creatures, then, Semper transforms the societal Mnemosyne of a universal myth to become a Mnemosyne of the private, almost self-indulgent, ego (the artist’s as well as the viewer’s own reading ego).

Spectres Of Mnemosyne

New Works by Gromyko Semper

Duration: 4th June – 24th June 2012

At Blanc Gallery Makati
Unit 2-E Crown Tower
107 HV dela Costa St.
Salcedo Village, Makati City

+63 920-9276436

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