Pio Abad: Notes on Decomposition
Filipino artist takes complex relationship between politics, culture and economics as starting point for provocative exhibition at CCA
There's a huge degree of timeliness to any exhibition presented in 2016, which attempts to map 'three stages of disenchantment' over three separate exhibition spaces. Pio Abad takes politics, culture and economics as key starting points; and there's greater potency here, of course, in the fact the artist, a graduate of Glasgow School of Art nearly ten years ago, is from the Philippines, a country currently undergoing its own political turmoil.
The first disenchanted stage is 'Flag III', a single piece affixed to the wall and looming out into the room; a flagpole bearing a blood red flag hanging so low it almost touches the floor. On it, a Soviet hammer and sickle motif, but the hammer is an auctioneer's hammer and the sickle is a falling champagne glass, looping spray of alcohol forming the blade. The second stage features a dozen wall-mounted drawings of various opulent and classically ostentatious decorative items – ornaments, vases, jewellery and so on – and a wall full of textual annotations; 'complete set of Jeffrey Archer first editions'; 'given to Ceausescu by Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran'; 'sold by order of the joint administrators of Lehman Brothers Limited'. These are the products of the estate sales of Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos, of the bankrupt Lehman Brothers, and of Margaret Thatcher.
In the final space, 100 leather handbags, manufactured in the Philippines and modelled on those carried by Thatcher; in the same room, a photograph of Jeffrey Archer auctioning one off for the eventual price of £25,000 in 2011 can be seen. Abad makes the point in the accompanying text that the Philippines was once renowned for its production of leather goods, but that the easing of trade restrictions battered producers. Everything, he stealthily encourages us, is interconnected, and politicians are not immune to human vanities, to decisions made on their own personal style and design, even as their power seems to place them at a remove from anything which might be considered creative.
CCA, Glasgow, until 30 Oct.