Victoria Lobregat

An endlessly reflective net of jewels
Gallery 4A, Sydney

Victoria Lobregat's exhibition entitled An Endlessly Reflective Net of Jewels was a curious array of painted symbols and collaged mementos (personal symbols) on canvas board. As if plucked at random from the infinite language of the sign and then combined idiosyncratically, Lobregat placed traditional Buddhist designs, Christian icons, Hindu gods, surf-brand logos, cartoon-like skulls, Guatemalan motifs, personal memorabilia and more, together with panels of text, in formal grided arrangements. A simple painting style enacted in bright acrylic tempered the complicated tone that was on offer.

An Endlessly Reflective Net of Jewels appeared as an incongruous mix of themes including spirituality, consumerism, minority culture, sub-culture, life and death. By covering such a diverse range of issues, Lobregat risked tackling too many concerns with the one exhibition and appearing overly ambiguous. Her use of text however, provided an insight into the motivation behind this strategy of mass symbolism. Quotes such as "A WORLD FULL OF SIGNS WITHOUT FAULT" and "ECSTATIC BLISS INFINITE LOVE", taken from the writings of Jacques Derrida and the Buddhist Tao respectively, were included in the paintings. The phrases lent themselves to the underlying themes of general acceptance and a perceived connection between theoretical reasoning and religious/philosophical interpretations. The ultimate destination of both Derrida's notion of differance and the Buddhist state of Nirvana is after all, the realm of the unconscious-the place in which the real may finally be captured.

The exhibition's underlying themes may have seemed unrealistically utopian to some but they were secondary to the representation of Lobregat's self-identity and a semiotic play on the nature of subjective interpretation. The painted symbols, arranged into grids of two panels by two, formed larger single paintings that were seen to be either comfortable or awkward in combination. The viewer therefore, was invited to accept or reject the symbols' coexistence. In this way An Endlessly Reflective Net of Jewels acted as a proposition. The situation however, called for only an either/or resolve and did not allow for flexibility of interpretation. This was due to Lobregat's use of the sign as her medium of choice. lt proved to be an obstacle for the viewer to overcome and highlighted the sign's inherent inability to convey true, complete meaning

Any meaning attributed to the exhibition then, was reliant upon its surrounding context. For those who believe an artist's identity to be an important contributing factor to their work, Lobregat's eclectic background is worth noting. She was born in Manila, has lived in Los Angeles and currently resides in suburban Sydney. Although raised as a (Filipino Jesuit) Catholic, she holds a strong affiliation with Buddhism. Lobregat has also created designs for surf-wear labels. The knowledge of these factors made her choice of symbolic depiction understandable as they are all clearly manifest in her work.

As an example of self-representation then, An Endlessly Reflective Net of Jewels stood as interesting testimony to the multitude of influences upon Lobregat's life. Ultimately though, its ability to draw attention to the culturally mediated evolution of the sign and its perceived power was its greatest success.