Art/Style/Travel Diaries

Salcedo Private View presents Junyee in Taipei solo exhibition

The artist, a 'naturalist with an ecological conscience,' is finally receiving mainstream recognition for his works of endemic, organic, and biodegradable materials



A naturalist with an ecological conscience, the artist Junyee lives in Los Baños in fulfillment of his desire to remain close to nature. A university town with an aesthetically appealing backdrop of forests, a tropical mountain ecosystem, and natural springs, Los Baños nurtured Junyee’s fascination with natural forms. Besides, the place rekindled memories of Junyee’s formative years in his grandfather’s farm in Agusan. There he spent time around vast mangrove forests and learned to swim in the great Agusan River and Lake Mainit.

A multi-awarded sculptor and installation artist, Junyee belongs to the trailblazing years of postmodern artmaking in the Philippines, together with a handful of brave post-modernists like Santiago Bose, Robert Villanueva, Lani Maestro, Judy Sibayan, Genara Banzon, and Shop 6.


‘Clear Path’

‘Bright Light’

‘Clear Thinking’

Junyee uses endemic, organic materials and biodegradable found objects as reflections on the continuity of life in space, in the biosphere, in nature. Rocks, roots, twigs, vines, dried pods, banana fiber, grass, seeds, husks, bamboo, and coconut shells find their place in his narratives and primordial installations.

In 1982, Junyee received  an invitation to the Paris Biennale, where he was joined by conceptual artist Ray Albano, Johnny Manahan, and Nonon Padilla. This was a historic participation, after the country’s 10-year absence from international biennales. For this, he re-mounted his work Wood Things: dried banana leaves and stalks and spikes from kapok pods. Hundreds of these “bugs” covered a floor, creeping up to the ceiling. Recognition came at last. Invitations to biennales, awards, exhibitions, and international collaborative projects followed.

‘Seed Bed’

In Seed Bed, a hardwood portion of a log, Junyee draws upon nature’s cycle of evolving and decaying over time. He creates from a primal place. The piece, which was recently offered at Salcedo Auctions’ “Finer Pursuits: Important Philippine Art & Rare Collectibles” sale, challenges our perceptions of the importance and transience of art and celebrates the ever-changing nature of life. Seed Bed is transient and yet it is permanent. It is a powerful validation of an empty space.

‘Starry Night’

‘In Darkness the Stars’

‘In Darkness, the Stars are Bright’

‘Birth of Stars’

His soot-on-metal sheet works, which are currently featured in his Salcedo Private View solo exhibition In Darkness, The Stars at the Xia Jing Shan Arts & Culture Foundation (Room A, 7th Floor, No. 131, Section 3, Minsheng East Road, Songshan District, Taipei) until July 10, demonstrate the power of using soot powder from charred or burnt organic material against the white background of inorganic material like metal sheets. They are dark and light mystical compositions, but they are profound in that they make us better appreciate the complexity of the natural and manmade world around us. Despite their different qualities, soot and metal sheet coalesce.

‘Bright Night’


‘Star Field’

It is telling that his work is now receiving belated mainstream recognition—the Taipei vernissage was attended by leading figures in the country’s business, arts and culture community—as these themes he has been addressing since the 1970s have become particularly urgent today.

Evidenced by the growing attention his works are getting now, Junyee has secured his role in the development and awareness of site-specific installation art and organic spatial interventions in the country. No longer will he be underplayed.

Chao En Kuang, director of the China Chao Clan Association, delivers his remarks at the exhibit opening, with Salcedo Auctions’ Richie Lerma, Dr. Maritess Yee (wife of artist Junyee), and Joaquin Lerma.

In Darkness, The Stars runs until July 10 at the Xia Jing Shan Arts & Culture Foundation, Room A, 7th Floor, No. 131, Section 3, Minsheng East Road, Songshan District, Taipei City. View catalogue via this link:

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