a version of this was published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Arts and Books section, October 26 2009.
She was obviously overwhelmed silly by the fact that she was chosen as one of ten most exciting young artists. Which is no surprise really. Dina Gadia is the youngest of the group at 23, and just might have more going for her other than her age: she has a clear sense of what it is that interests her, where her art must lie, and what it is she can do without – or must necessarily rebel against.
Learning as she did the conventions of art given her degree in Fine Arts major in Advertising, Dina came upon the truth(s) that seemed to set her free beyond the disciplined she learned. There must be enjoyment in creation, and the need to come up with something new. This, even when her preferred medium has been collage, and even when what that requires is a combination of various other forms of “art” – accepted and otherwise.
What fuels Dina’s artistic production after all is popular culture – toys, movies, icons, posters – and what it becomes is not so much a tribute to her childhood (so close as it is at this point), but to what remains as a central truth: a reconfiguration of the images of our every days, and unconvincing us all of what the images were to begin with.
Case in point: old romantic Hollywood faces, reinvented with some violence (the smoke from an explosion that comes from nowhere, the waves that envelope most of a frame). The floral and pink are made strange by the anger it is interwoven with like growling wolves and forlorn rabbits. The vintage image of a little girls skipping and at play is reconfigured into faceless forms with one filled with flowers, the other with geometric shapes. It is as much a paean to what informs our childhood as females, as it is an assessment of the little that we are made to know about ourselves and the stereotypes we necessarily fill.
Other than the seeming familiarity of these images, it is also Dina’s wit that works here, as well as a keen sense of the ways in which commercialism and the popular create us as spectators and consumers.
And in the midst of all this, there is enjoyment. Not just for Dina, but for every other spectator of her work that can go beyond its seeming dismemberment of what is familiar. Because when you really get down to it, it is the pervasiveness of popular culture that has informed the ruins of our everyday lives as well. At least through Dina’s art, we are forced to contend with its disfigurement – and its falsities.