Raphael Pangilinan, Obscurité, 2018


Raphael Pangilinan, Obscurité, 2018. 13ft x 8ft x 9ft high. MANA Contemporary BSMT Vault. Image
Courtesy of the Artist

The grounds of an industrial two-million square-foot building in Jersey City are home to one of the most influential art centers in the state of New Jersey. Since its foundation in 2011, MANA Contemporary has progressed to become a collaborative environment that supports the emergent generation of artists by means of facilitating private studios, a myriad of workspaces, art programs and residencies. Through its ongoing supportive aid, they aim to foster local and international sourced innovations, collaborations, entrepreneurships and exhibitions.

Inside MANA’s basement there is a twenty-four by eighteen feet vault where, Raphael Pangilinan, a Filipino-born French artist, exhibits an isolated, original piece from his “distorted” series collection entitled Osbcurité. A variety of merged wooden, uneven rhomboid are shaped into one connected sculpture which emits through LED’s a reflective single light environment, set within the centerfold of the structure’s unifying segments. As the vault has no illumination, the absence of it enhances the proportions and shining of the geometrical sculpture, which draws out a visual allure for the viewer, who’s outside the vault. From outside, they read and intake the sentimental and social context Pangilinan delivers on the installation’s statement, shown prior to entering the vault. Once you enter, the sculpture’s rudimentary anatomy and modern design, juxtaposed with the squared and enclosed dimensions of the vault, calls for meditative mesmerization which entrances and makes one ponder, or even visualize a unified, loving family clan.


Raphael Pangilinan, Obscurité, 2018. 13ft x 8ft x 9ft high. MANA Contemporary BSMT Vault. Image Courtesy of the Artist

“Distorted Lighting Sculpture” is the idea and design of Raphael Pangilinan, architect who graduated from the Philippines and became a product developer manager in France. When speaking about Obscurité, he states in his installation’s statement, “This exhibit represents the 1.3 billion people in the world who have little or no access to electricity, including all the victims of natural calamities who continue to live without power.” Pangilinan employs the area inside the vault to conjure a certain confined abandonment where the dark, empty interior becomes a representation of the inequalities of resources and power the world’s societies dwell in. Obscurité represents the state of being unknown or abandoned, as its meaning could refer to. The darkness inside the basement vault complements the sculpture, both aesthetically and conceptually. The sculpture, although, counteracts the aphotic space, as the artist engages the illumination of the sculpture to enhance its enlightened physical attachment which reveals its embedded optimistic properties that, in case of danger or sudden oppression, whomever is unified and strong will emotionally and socially thrive.


Raphael Pangilinan, Obscurité, 2018. 13ft x 8ft x 9ft high. MANA Contemporary BSMT Vault. Image Courtesy of the Artist

Pangilinan writes in his installation statement, “Distorted Lighting Sculpture embodies relationships amongst members of a single-family unit. How each individual’s distinct trait makes every human being unique and capable of uplifting and enlightening those in need. Creating an interlocking bond and powerful connection to triumph over life’s challenges.” Through this idea, Pangilinan incorporates the use of local, indigenous materials and other natural resources to design and build unifying geometrical shapes which symbolize an interconnected family clan that overcomes social darkness through its familiar, intimate and physical conglomeration.

Obscurité depicts the meticulously manifestation of a creative eye for detail, an artistic mind-set and a refined avant-garde level of craftsmanship skills combined with a background in architecture plus furniture design. Obscurité represents an ingenious expressive force that integrates light-sculpture concepts into exceptional handmade, one-of-a-kind, pieces of art; and through this one piece installation Raphael Pangilinan explores and addresses an ongoing answer to an open problem: the poor never have sufficient resources, as they are limited by social or political power structures which undermine there bare necessities, like electricity, clean water, food, a rooftop. This leaves the unknown, the unheard and the unseen powerless, unable to gain any social status that could benefit or better their quality of living. Obscurité, paradoxically, shines its light on this issue and exposes it by creating an interlocking sculpture that manifests the powerful and uplifting interconnection families create in order to triumph over any quandary or life’s challenges.

Obscurité is currently on view at the MANA Contemporary BSMT Vault

By Michele Lorusso

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