SILVERLENS is pleased to present Wawi Navarroza: Self-Portraits & The Tropical Gothic, the artist’s twelfth exhibition with the gallery. Self-portraits have been a recurring theme in a twenty-year practice, but this is the first exhibition focusing solely on the form. Navarroza will be showing eight new pieces alongside three older works from different years, alternating between muse and visual memoir.


Wawi Navarroza

“Wawi Navarroza: Self-Portraits & The Tropical Gothic” Solo Exhibition
Silverlens Galleries, Makati, Manila
17 August – 14 September 2019

Opening Reception
17 August, Saturday, 6-9 PM


Coming from a string of moving places and foreign travels after the fire which destroyed her Taguig studio, Navarroza re-established herself in Manila at the end of 2018, signaling her return to studio practice, providing the venue for the elaborate mise-en-scènes we see in this new exhibition. The artist looks back and forward, coming full circle to a genre that has defined her early art-making and has punctuated an arc of more than a decade: Self-Portraits.


Navarroza employs formal composition in tableau vivant large format which is staged for the camera. At the same time, she subverts photography in a way that the final image is rendered almost as a flat collage, deliberately controlled by lighting techniques and careful arrangements in the scenography. Furthermore, the artist disrupts the continuity of seamless photographic image by quick imprecise digital cuts-and-pastes on selected areas of the image, reminding viewers that ultimately, we are looking at a constructed image. At turns autobiographical and/or interpretative, the artist both as creator and figure, present allegories replete with materials and symbols, all generous for further significations and imaginings to mirror the Philippine contemporary.


“The artist is peripatetic and identity is plural. This time (2019) that I find myself having a studio again, I get the privilege to focus on what is immediate around me and reflect on the integral parts of myself (a confusing amalgam of referents as Filipino, as female, as Asian, as worldly trans-national sponge)—by finding myself at home in the Philippines’ particular pastiche summarized as the “Tropical Gothic” (coined by national artist for literature Nick Joaquin): a syncretic mix of East and West, catholic and pagan/folk/mystic, laced with a Spanish colonial baroque hangover, ornamentation, contemporary clutter, sari- sari, horror vacui, the esoteric and the vernacular, the mashups, DIY, telenovelas, pageants, boxing, elections, gridlock traffic, hot humid eternal summer, raging monsoons, natural disasters, palm trees and concrete, nature and artifice, a marvelous mess of the living. Within this framework, all the incongruities make sense and it becomes a wild pleasure to confront the heavy and tender complexities of Self and Surrounding.” —Wawi Navarroza



La Bruja (All the Places She's Gone, Self-Portrait), 2019 

archival pigment print on Hahnemühle paper, cold-mounted on acid-free aluminum, with artistʼs exhibition frame i.e. wrapped fabric on custom-tinted double wood frame

40 x 52.5 in / 101.6 x 133.35 cm

The Heap/Viva La Vida (Portrait of A Female Artist at 40, Self- Portrait), 2019

archival pigment print on Hahnemühle paper, cold-mounted on acid-free aluminum, with artistʼs exhibition frame i.e. wrapped fabric on custom-tinted double wood frame

40 x 53.3 in / 101.60 x 135.38 cm

Start Here, A Lesson on Looking (Self-Portrait with Mandarins), 2019

archival pigment print on Hahnemühle paper, cold-mounted on acid- free aluminum, with artistʼs exhibition frame i.e. wrapped fabric on wood, colored frame 

45 x 30 in / 114 x 76 cm

Remember Who You Are (Strange Fruit/The Other Asian, Self- Portrait with Pineapple), 2019

archival pigment print on Hahnemühle paper, cold-mounted on acid- free aluminum, with artistʼs exhibition frame i.e. wrapped fabric on wood, colored frame

45h x 34w in / 114.30 x 86.36 cm

May in Manila/Hot Summer (After Balthus, Self-Portrait), 2019

archival pigment print on Hahnemühle paper, cold-mounted on acid-free aluminum, with artistʼs exhibition frame i.e. wrapped fabric on custom-tinted double wood frame

53.30 x 40 x 135.38 x 101.60 cm

Self Portrait with Bricks (Autorretratro con ladrillos), 2012

archival pigment print on Hahnemühle paper, cold-mounted on acid-free aluminum, with artistʼs exhibition frame i.e. wrapped fabric on custom-tinted  wood frame

41.34 x 27.56 in / 105 x 70 cm

The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter/The Self-Portraitist (After Alcuáz, Self-Portrait), 2019

archival pigment print on Hahnemühle paper, cold-mounted on acid-free aluminum, with artistʼs exhibition frame i.e. wrapped fabric on custom-tinted double wood frame

40 x 53.30 in / 101.60 x 135.38 cm

Self-Portrait for My Grandfather, the Photographer

(after Frida Kahlo's Portrait of My Father / Retrato de Mi Padre, 1951), 2007

archival pigment print on Hahnemühle paper, cold-mounted on acid-free aluminum, with artistʼs exhibition frame i.e. wrapped fabric on custom-tinted double wood frame

24 x 18 in x 60.96 x 45.72 cm

The Dotted Self/Every Thought A Constellation (Psoriatic Self- Portrait), 2019

archival pigment print on Hahnemühle paper, cold-mounted on acid-free aluminum, with artistʼs exhibition frame i.e. wrapped fabric on custom-tinted wood frame

45 x 34 in / 114.30 x 86.36 cm

"I Want To Live A Thousand More Years” (Self-Portrait After Dengue, with tropical plants and fake flowers), 2016

archival pigment print on Hahnemühle paper, cold-mounted on acid-free aluminum, with artistʼs exhibition frame i.e. wrapped fabric on custom-tinted double wood frame

50 x 40 in / 127 x 101.6 cm

The Fire Youʼre Made Of (Ignis Mirabilis, Self-Portrait After the Fire), 2019

archival pigment print on Hahnemühle paper, cold-mounted on acid-free aluminum, with artistʼs exhibition frame i.e. wrapped fabric on custom-tinted double wood frame

53.30 x 40 in / 135.38 x 101.60 cm

© Wawi Navarroza 2019
Using Format