In essence, wood takes time – its own lifemaking demands fortitude, and the sturdiest is one that develops in stability and that proceeds paradoxically to support mutability in a carver’s hands. There is much to be understood about wood’s materiality – that being solid is not banked on a fixed or perennially unchanging form; rather, the cracks unhinge the stump and cannot be unmade. It splits, reunites asymmetrically, it outlives people who have used them, it continues to bear its owners’ habits. Wood takes time, and it tells time.
Perhaps one could then validate this state of spectrality that Riel Hilario surrounds his body of work – his is one the accommodates possible tracks of reckoning with inheritance, or how one departs from it. The rebulto-making training is often referred to in terms of interpreting the mode and images his sculptures takes, acknowledging this peculiar lineage through his deconstructive permutations of variables to construct his own cannon of saints. It is also a means to identify a “return” in so much as it identifies the value of devotion to the material that grants a re-creation. Over the last few years, Hilario proceeded with elements and images that offer a sense of flight and departure – mobile or detachable fittings, wings for limbs, flight. The wood is given the trappings for takeoff.
Associate Curator, National University of Singapore Museum