TWO PEOPLE who create art together are bound to see the similarities and differences with each other’s work, and those around them may be quick to compare. At the Alliance Française de Manille (AFM) Gallery, this tendency to put the works of a couple side by side is put to the test.
Titled “Similar But Not The Same,” husband-and-wife artist duo Malyn Bonayog-Mangrobang and Josue Mangrobang, Jr.’s exhibit explores the affinities between their works.
They do this by displaying their respective takes on an artistic concept next to each other, resulting in a showcase of pairs of paintings that may seem the same but actually have key differences.
Mr. Mangrobang starts with a rough sketch, then the two carry on building the same concept separately.
“Titignan na naman nila kung magkamukha ang works natin, sabi niya. Tapos siya rin nakaisip, bakit hindi natin i-embrace? (They’re going to compare our works again, he said. Then he was the one who thought, why don’t we embrace it?),” Ms. Bonyaog-Mangrobang said at the exhibit launch on Oct. 19.
While his style is more realism, hers veers towards optical art. But because they start off with the same concept, their works at first glance appear almost the same.
She said that they would even discover how much they admired each other’s styles during the creative process.
“We used to show more of our differences, when we were first starting out. So, this was something new for us,” said Ms. Bonayog-Mangrobang.
Meanwhile, her husband enjoyed how they each played with what they were given, whether it was centered on a piece of furniture or items found at home. The results would vary in composition or color.
“We managed to intentionally show differences, having the same elements, subject matter, and ideas, but each with our own interpretations,” he said.
The couple met when they were students at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts in 2000. After they got married in 2013, they opted to lie low and focus on building a family.
Now, after raising three children (the youngest is four-years-old), the couple are fully back in the art scene.
Ms. Bonayog-Mangrobang said: “We’ll be attending more shows now. We’re happier having achieved both making a family and building careers in art.”
“Similar But Not The Same” is on view at the AFM Gallery at 209 Nicanor Garcia St., Bel-Air II, Makati, until Nov. 4. — Brontë H. Lacsamana