The Cultural Center of the Philippines Visual Arts and Museum Division presents “Gray Horizon,” featuring 36 new works by visual artist Ciron Señeres, on exhibit from June 21 to July 23 at the Pasilyo Vicente Manansala (2F Hallway Gallery). 

Curated by Ricky Francisco, the exhibit introduces the audience to Tondo, the largest and most populous district of Manila, where artist Ciron Señeres started his distinct painting style of thick black and white, a high contrast depiction of neglected nooks and crannies, broken things, and discarded material, in a still contemplation of the high drama in decay.

Located at the heart of Manila, Tondo has an area of 9.10 square kilometers and an average population density of 69,297 per km², which is one of the highest in the world. In its periphery are Manila’s main slaughterhouse, its harbors, and communities that make their living by continuously burning driftwood to make charcoal; all of which add to its dinginess and grime. It is notorious for poverty, slums, crime, and the ever present smoke of the fires from the charcoal pits and the burning garbage, which covers the horizon in a gray-black layer of haze and soot. What would have been repulsive, the artist has found rather beautiful.

The struggle for human dignity, despite the tremendous odds, is a drama that unfolds daily in the dingy streets of Tondo, and in all honesty, much of Manila. This is what Señeres memorializes with Gray Horizon.

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He wants the audience to experience and understand the developing slums by the bay. Strolling along the alleys of BASECO (Bataan Shipping and Engineering Company Compound) to see the residents in their humble dwellings overcoming the challenge of protracted access to water and electricity, he delved deeper into the atrocities that these residents engage with each day and see how they manage to keep their enthusiasm for tomorrow and the uncertainties it bears.

To understand Señeres’ works for Gray Horizon is to see the beauty in the struggle of common folk. If beauty is easily perceived in National Artist Fernando Amorsolo’s streams and quiet places, Señeres attempts to depict solitude amidst the city’s confusion. The tension between both provides the drama.

In the thirty-six works that comprise Gray Horizon, the audience is given a view of the city from its streets where chaos gives way to careful composition under the artist’s watchful eye and keen sense of contrast. It is collaged into an artificial horizon which point to cross sections of the city, the city which Señeres understands.

The Pasilyo Vicente Manansala is located at the CCP, along Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City. For more information, contact the Visual Arts and Museum Division at (632) 832-1125 loc. 1504/1505 and 832-3702, mobile (0917) 6033809, email ccp.exhibits@gmail.com,  or visit www.culturalcenter.gov. ph.