Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ricky Villabona: "Someone Left the Cake Out in the Rain"


I had really intended to attend the opening of Ricky Villabona’s first solo exhibition, Someone Left the Cake Out in the Rain last weekend. But even if I did make the time, I would still prefer viewing art during solo trips to the museum – unhurried, completely sober, and accompanied only by my own thoughts. 

It was a good thing I suppose that the Ayala Museum (its Artist Space, in particular) is close to the office. I dropped by earlier today, a little after lunch, when no was there besides Ricky’s assistant and the security guard. The summer sun gently rippled through the glass walls and ceiling – the dappled shadows at times caressing, at times hushing the canvasses like waves. (There was a sleepy breeze through the trees outside.)


Spring was never waiting for us, girl.
It ran one step ahead
 as we followed in the dance.

Between the parted pages and the prayers

still love's hot, fevered iron
Like a striped pair of pants.

MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark.

All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain.

I don't think that I can take it

‘cause it took so long to bake it.

And I'll never have that recipe again.
Oh, no!


It has been a while since I heard "MacArthur's Park", written by Jimmy Webb and made famous by Richard Harris. As I listen now to the original version, then Donna Summer’s, then read about how the song has been covered – not to mention parodied and misinterpreted – so many times after, there is a hint of sadness that makes the bold shapes and colors of Ricky’s paintings more poignant.


I recall the yellow cotton dress
foaming like a wave
on the ground around your knees.
Birds like tender babies in your hands
and the old men playing checkers, by the trees.

MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark.
All the sweet, green icing flowing down.
Someone left the cake out in the rain.

I don't think that I can take it
'cause it took so long to bake it.
And I'll never have that recipe again.
Oh, no!


At first, I was looking for the titles of the 12 paintings somewhere below each canvas, but there were only numbers. The list was laid on the table together with press releases, marked by pink stickers to indicate which painting had already been reserved for purchase (only two left for interested buyers when I was there). 

As I looked on the list to match each title to each painting, trying to decipher references (from pop culture, fashion, and contemporary art – Ricky was more into fashion photography in the 1990s, before concentrating on TV commercials and photography these past few years), I got tired and gave up and just approached each piece, or the juxtaposed canvasses, and let them speak to me.


There would be another song for me
for I will sing it.
There would be another dream for me.
Someone will bring it.

I will drink the wine while it is warm
and never let you catch me looking at the sun.
And after all the loves of my life,
after all the loves of my life, you'll still be the one.

I will take my life into my hands and I will use it.
I will win the worship in their eyes and I will lose it.
I will have the things that I desire.
And my passion flows like rivers through the sky.

And after all the loves of my life,
oh, after all the loves of my life,
I'll be thinking of you – and wondering why.


The lyrics now unfold like the sequence of titles of Ricky’s earlier work: from the green-eyed “I Can See You” to titles from Inspired by Gardens: “Over My Head and Under My Feet”, “Jump Over Every Line”, “Life Over Your Shadow”, “Play Outside and Have Some Fun”, and “Rushing to the Finish Line”. They connect almost like the lyrics of a pop song. 

Looking at his present pieces – at first glance chaotic and unresolved – I can’t help but get the sense that the artist or the persona behind the paintings is more at peace. More confident in making mistakes and starting over, more patient and resolute. I wouldn’t say resigned, because there is youth in full bloom behind these shapes and colors. There is a sweetness between the clash and the rhythm.

Catch Ricky's exhibition if you still haven't. Tomorrow is the last day not only for interested buyers but also for anyone who wants to see the pieces together. 

1 comment:

Ricky said...

Thanks for taking the time to see the exhibit. Your review makes me realize a few things I was not conscious of when I was putting it together. Thanks :)