August 22 – September 6, 2015
Gallery Arte Verite’. 2C – 2F The Shops @ Serendra Bonifacio Global City, 
Taguig City, Philippines 

Imperfect Reflection:
The Sculptures of
Daniel dela Cruz

Riel Jaramillo Hilario

My works are mirrors: If an apostle looks in, no monkey can look out. = Soren Kierkegaard

Looks can be deceiving, as well all know. Sculptor Daniel dela Cruz presents us with a promenade of finely crafted metal sculptures mostly of animal-headed nude men and women. Many of them are shown under vitrines, pedestals and even a cage and a perch: a visual feast of shiny and verdigris. He calls the series, Esoterica, in reference to collections of provocative and sensually charged images of the body. Yet far from being just a perceptual delight, Dela Cruz wants to take us further beyond whimsy and into discourse: Esoterica propels us to a theoretical exercise that challenges our ability to create compelling and accurate images of our self.

Consider: the eye cannot see itself inasmuch as awareness cannot perceive itself. What we utilize instead to check for our sense and self-image is reflection, both by means of a mirror and how Others perceive us in turn. Despite our efforts to enshrine the sense of who we are as some immutable, secure visceral truth that we can verify ourselves, the facts betray that all we consider as images of ourselves are just constructs of mind and light. The sculptor uses the device of pedestals and shrines to indicate the special position our ideas of self occupies in our array of thoughts.

Yet this is where irony dwells.

We rely on reflection as the basis for most of our self-knowledge. Dela Cruz makes us wonder if distortions of the reflective medium and the perceptual process can lead us to a less than clearer picture of who we are.

The sculptor uses the gesture of reflection in its dual meaning as 1) the act of reflexive thinking and 2) the optical process of bouncing light from surfaces. Through this method he introduces us to the idea of the perceived self, and how reflection generates image and thought that are incongruous constructs of mind and world. The iconographies deployed by his sculptures are resolutions to this tension: no matter how hard we make of ourselves, we will always look otherwise in the mind of others and even to us. Hence he visualizes people to possess countenances and head of animals, to indicate (in hyperbolic fashion) how incompatible self-images are as references of identity.

Indeed Dela Cruz engages us further to think of self-image in relation to what is formed by the Others who look at us. There is a Sartrean puzzle that posits that voyeurism is the inherent in how people see us. And that there is even a sense of shame when we discover that we are also looked upon as we look at others.

In the end the whole project of creating and curating a sense of self fails as some sort of menagerie. We live in glass universes with imperfect mirrors. We catch glimpses of who we are, but can never retrieve a full image.

It is this in this truth that Dela Cruz finds redemption. Rather than bewail the fact that the single image of self is fugitive: we are exposed to the bewildering possibility of our own multiplicity. Like In a hall of mirrors, our sense of self is plural and we can appear in many guises and in many forms as there are reflective surfaces and to wit, in as many congregations of Others and the public.

Esoterica celebrates the wonderful plurality of identities and presents how we can liberate ourselves from the tyranny of reflection. That is, to use many mirrors, and discover our multiple facets from any angle.

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