Can a book have no paper but walls? No pages but floors? What if a book is larger than life… what are the odds of fantasizing in a “picturebook” into which one’s invited?
These questions welcomed visitors like me to “Anima: A Picturebook in Space,” an exhibit by award-winning children’s illustrator, Sergio Bumatay III, as it opened on 15 January 2016.
As his thesis for a Master of Fine Arts from the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts, Bumatay elevates the picturebook as a narrative medium and showcases the rich imagination and creativity of children — good reasons to visit the exhibit!
Follow the Story
Epigraphed with Maurice Sendak’s words in his famous picturebook, Where the Wild Things Are: “…And the walls became the world all around,” the exhibit’s story follows the adventure of a child character in the world of dreams. And we all know what happens in a dream as a trope in children’s books, everything can happen.
Utilising this dream device, the child character enters a realm full of objects that could only exist in that space, but is substantiated in Bumatay’s art installations. So don’t be surprised to see a suitcase that oozes with a gluey substance, an inverted cow hanging on the ceiling, or pants with eyes.
You will definitely be amazed finding out what other strange things the child encounters in the realm of dreams and how the adventure ends!
The exhibit somehow echoes his illustrations in the Rio Alma poetry book, May Darating na Trak Búkas, which was reviewed here. As in the book, Bumatay used commonplace materials to build a world — a thing a lot of children are experts at. They can make houses, monsters, and vehicles, for instance, out of cardboard boxes.
My favourite piece in the exhibit is actually the one made out of cardboard boxes. It looks like a rocket ship, with all the machinery drawn on the body, atop a pointed building with a snaky staircase. I remember doing a similar thing when I was young.
So be prepared to be in awe with how Bumatay transformed “insignificant objects” to create a playground of imagination.
“Anima” runs until 29 January 2016. Also check out Bumatay’s review of Isang Harding Papel for Xi Zuq’s Nook.