Carlo Tanseco's canned thoughts

THE PEPPER MILL - Pepper Teehankee - The Philippine Star
Carlo Tanseco's canned thoughts
Artist Carlo Tanseco with art critic Carlomar Daoana.
STAR/ File

Art Cube Gallery presented Carlo Tanseco’s much-anticipated exhibition, “Canned Thoughts,” featuring the artist’s latest acrylic on 3D can-shaped canvas paintings and limited prints on paper, inviting viewers to enjoy a tasty exploration of Filipino culture.

Tanseco ingeniously interprets 17 canned goods, staples in every Filipino kitchen, and transforms them into canvases of hope, abundance and joy. Each piece tweaks familiar brand names to express uplifting messages, reflecting the spirit of resilience and optimism found in the simplest of homes. True to its theme, the artist’s reception even featured a small sari-sari store installation with cheap, salty and flavor-filled local snacks like cheese rings and mixed nuts in strips of sachets, jars full of local candies and ’90s music played by an acoustic band wearing house clothes.

Tanseco’s sardine cans convey many messages. The classic red and green 888 variants symbolize luck and cyclical give-and-take. One variant serves as a poignant reminder to always look back to

Yoya Tanseco, Chun Chi Soler, Tinkay and Bryan Prieto.

one’s roots, while another encourages living in the present moment to discover true happiness. Additionally, Huwag Angkinin tackles the contentious issue of territorial waters, adding a layer of social commentary to the exhibit.

Tanseco’s transformation of green peas into a metaphor for inner peace showcases his ability to find deeper meanings in everyday objects. His tuna cans celebrate the vibrancy of life while the corned beef cans reflect the rewards of hard work and persistence, cleverly playing on the term “core belief” to highlight Filipino values of honor and integrity. A famous tomato sauce brand challenges viewers to Do More of what makes them happy, which is good for the heart, soul, mind and body, just like the well-touted benefits of lycopene.


Other notable transformations include the most powerful emotion experienced by man in well-loved brands of imported Vienna sausages, reimagined as “Labis Kitang Mahal,” a Tagalog phrase meaning too much love; pork and beans as “Handa,” invoking a readiness of both heart and mind, and a can of lychees adorned with Chinese motifs conveying luck in love. A staple breakfast chicken luncheon meat morphs into a symbol of an unadulterated being, “MaLinis na Kalooban,” with the artist even changing its accompanying Chinese characters to now mean peace and pure heart. Tanseco’s version of the most popular spiced ham in the world becomes Same but Different, celebrating diversity, as a top milk brand is whimsically transformed into “All Fine,” reminding viewers that, “like the changing seasons, everything happens for a reason.”

George Salud and Sharyn Wong.

Tanseco’s use of traditional Japanese wagara and Chinese cloud and wave patterns provides a dynamic backdrop for his twists on easily recognizable logos and universally inspiring texts. He reinforces the messages embedded in each of his art pieces while carrying over elements found in his previous exhibitions. One work in particular, “Delicadeza,” depicts a different background, its stark gray on white showing an imprint of members of the Propaganda Movement, Filipino expatriates in Europe photographed in Madrid, Spain, in 1890. This piece is likened to his past interpretations of historical figures serving moral and intellectual ideals. He has done these previously as postage stamps and matchboxes in his past two exhibitions.

The show’s shaped canvases, mimicking half-cans, are wall-bound and arranged in a line inside the gallery, cleverly playing on branding and messaging while challenging traditional notions of scale. This is done in the tradition of pop art.

Jujut and Lia Enriquez, Irene Nubla, Tessa Prieto.

Tanseco injects local flavor, as his references can be seen in friendly neighborhood sari-sari stores, groceries and convenience stores around the metro. He plays with commerce, mass media, and the popularity of these canned products, which, especially during the pandemic were the primary food aid sent to Filipino homes as government assistance. He also changes the registered symbol to a smiley face, underscoring the positive messaging of the entire exhibition hinting on possibilities, aspirations, and faith in what is good.

Tanseco offers a unique blend of visual delight and thoughtful reflection on these symbols of Filipino life.

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Art Cube is located at Unit 104, Building 3, OPVI Centre, 2295 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City. Visit https://www.artcubephilippines.com/.

Follow me on Instagram @pepperteehankee

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