Hysterical Blindness

One look at Buen Abrigo’s “Armature,” an installation work made of armchair pieces etched with the faces of political prisoners, may make you feel uneasy once you’ve pieced the puzzles together.

It might come as a surprise, then, how Buen started out as a visual artist: he helped his grandmother, a public school teacher, with her visual aids and posters needed for her classes. Since then, Buen continued drawing and painting, eventually graduating with a degree in Painting from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.

Innocent illustrations meant for grade school kids mutated into thought-provoking, sometimes ominous images. Buen, one of the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ 13 Artists Awardees last 2015, describes his style as “maximizing the use of discarded materials or dead objects and transforming them into something dialectical from their original function through collages and assemblage.” These he juxtaposes with “web-based image indexes painted in an expressive and grotesque manner, usually with dark undertones.” Buen credits the Arte Povera movement, or “poor art,” instigated by Italian artists in the late 1960s as his major influence.

For his latest solo exhibit titled Hysterical Blindness, Buen employs “re-representations of symbols and visual tropes” within the context of the current cultural and socio-political climate. Expect, for instance, fragments of painted surfaces that pertains to the country’s territorial dispute. Playing second fiddle to Buen’s works are minimalist mid-century modern furniture pieces from Space Encounters.

Clearly, Buen is creating art not just for art’s sake; he uses his craft to convey messages that transcend his canvas, making each work—whether shown here or abroad—a commentary on issues that beset the masses. “Being an artist means dissolving [oneself] into different social classes and [being] conscious of the struggle of the majority,” says Buen. He admits, though, that going against the grain is not always easy, “but that is how I determine myself…and [how I am] able to [be consistent] with my art practice.”

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Previous Exhibitions

The Spaces Between Us

Burn Aquino, Space Cadets View Collection

Fear Of Flying

Paco Pili View Collection

Look At You Now

Bayani Galera, Jessie Mondares Arno Salvador View Collection

The Warhol Show

Blic, Farley Del Rosario, Mr. S View Collection


Marlon Magbanua, Josep Pascual, Jayson Muring, Michael Pastorizo View Collection

Night & Day

Sherwin C. Tan View Collection

Brut Salad

Kris Abrigo View Collection


Soleil Ignacio View Collection

Slumber Party

Nonie Meimban View Collection

Stillness is the Noise

Miguel Nacianceno, Sonny Thakur, Toto Labrador, Cru Camara, Carmen Del Prado, Floyd Jhocson, Jilson Tiu, Eloisa Lopez View Collection