Loving the Messy World

Amor Fati explores ironic and scathing pieces of colonialsm and imperialism.

Amor fati is Latin for “love of fate,” for acceptance of one’s lot in life, including the stuff we’d rather avoid. Nietzsche, of all people, invented the term (according to Wikipedia): “I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.” I will love Him though He slay me, from the man who declared God dead? Bizarre. Theodor Adorno likens amor fati (aka Panglossianism) more reasonably to the Stockholm-Syndrome prisoner in love with his “stone walls and barred windows … ruled by … ignominy of adaptation, which, in order to be able to endure the horror of the world, ascribes the wish to reality and meaning to nonsense of compulsion.”

The term seems equally bizarre applied to the art of Kwatro-Kantos (England Hidalgo, Marcius Noceda, Carlo Ricafort, and Mel Vera Cruz, with curator Lian Ladia), Malaquias Montoya, Miju (Michelle Muennig and Juan Carlos Quintana), Favianna Rodriguez, and Carlos Villa, ironic and even scathing pieces about Philippine history under Spanish colonialism and American imperialism. The highlights here are: Hidalgo’s painting, “Systemphobic,” an alarming conglomeration of snake, rat, and blind and starving dog centered on a skeleton within a truck-tire aureole; Noceda’s oil, “Sway,” depicting a pair of embracing men superimposed over enigmatic objects in a bare landscape, beneath a camouflage-motif sky; and Ricafort’s oil, “Gone’s Going” with its Gustonian pyramid of abject and indecipherable objects. Also don’t miss Vera Cruz’s mylar scroll collage, “Project 4,” and his ferociously assaultive media-glut installation (installed downstairs), “Proof”; Montoya’s five-panel acrylic tribute to workers, “El Picket Sign”; Miju’s oil, “Traces of Delightful Malcontent,” subverting illustration for children through disquieting juxtapositions; Rodriguez’s vibrantly colored screenprint, “Sex Positive”; and Villa’s “No Way (State of the State),” watercolor, vinyl letters, and chicken parts on paper. Bless this mess, the world. Amor Fati runs through February 8 at Joyce Gordon Gallery (406 14th St., Oakland). 510-465-8928 or JoyceGordonGallery.com


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