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Mugna Art Gallery is a platform dedicated to promoting local culture and fostering creativity through supporting emerging and undiscovered artists, offering a space for artistic expression and interaction with the community and wider audiences.

April 5 to May 8, 2023

Onion Kids – Homecoming

Hersley-Ven Casero
MUGNA Gallery
Valencia, Negros Oriental, Philippines

About

In February 2023, Art Fair Philippines made a triumphant return to its physical venue, The Link Carpark in Makati, after two years of virtual and socially distanced fairs.

From this moment – a symbolic return to a pre pandemic state – visual artist and photographer Hersley Casero took his cue and presented a set of three photographs from his archive that straddled consistent truths amid ever changing times.
The number three was no accident, with the colors: a yellow light, the blue sea, and red onions being a reference to the country’s flag. Perhaps an ode to a nation that survived the grips of a global crisis, or perhaps testament to a will that has no other goal but to overcome any and every challenge faced.

Nothing is more captivating than the sea and its mysteries, and for most of existence, it is a force to be feared. However in “Free Falling,” an award-winning vignette of pandemic life in Dumaguete, Casero shows his flair for capturing the spontaneity of children vis-a-vis nature. Unbothered by matters of consequence, the only thing on their mind is a better dive or a more spectacular splash into the waters off Bantayan Beach. Playing around is a habit.

The titular piece “Onion Kids,” made quite a stir as it was shown hot on the heels of the so-called onion crisis in the country, when the cost per kilo went up to as much as 1,000 pesos. The abundance of the produce in the image juxtaposed with the innocence of the children playing around it was another marker of our time in the pandemic. Maybe it is also a reminder of a collective naiveté where we take the resources and blessings we have for granted. Appreciating the small things in life is a choice.

Going back a bit further to 2015 is the cleverly christened “Paligid,” which for Filipino speakers immediately translates to “environment.” In the Negros vernacular, it is “to roll,” derived from “ligid” which means “wheel” or “tire.” When one chances upon this photograph, with its sublime interaction of light and dust, of shadow and movement – a poignant environment unfolds – and with a longer gaze, the figures of children playing, rolling tires, emerge. Pursuit of the good image is a tradition.

What sets Casero apart from the plethora of street photographers is his somewhat unique predisposition in catching a scene that is largely dictated by framing and composition. This is thoroughly explored in a series of smaller photographs entitled “Catch a Moment.” He goes on consistent photowalks, which allows access to certain snippets in time. This is evident in his photographs from Bantayan Beach, a frequent hangout of local kids. One pandemic day around lunchtime, and while other photographers left to eat, Casero stayed, knowing that a shot was waiting. This was when “Onion Kids” was taken. “Paligid” was a scene not far from his house, but he had set out that morning, with a sense of foreseen randomness.

Two months after the fair in Manila, Mugna Gallery restages the exhibition to extend its viewership and influence. Interestingly, what makes these photographs resonate well is that while they are the Onion Kids; we, the viewers, are the same. Life imitates art, and whether happy or sad, Onion Kids are always crying.

By Koki Lxx

Hersley-Ven Casero is a multidisciplinary visual artist, street and documentary photographer based in Dumaguete City, Philippines. He received his BSC in Marketing and an Artist of the Year Award from Foundation University, and in 2018, the Negros Oriental Young Heroes Award in the field of Visual Arts. In 2019, Casero became the first Filipino to participate in the Chalk Hill Artist Residency program based in California USA, after they awarded him one of their limited spots as a sponsored artist.

Being born and raised in Dumaguete, the city has shaped Casero’s perspective as a visual artist and is the stage for many of his paintings and photographs. His works have been recognized and published in local, national and international publications and exhibitions, including various cities around the USA, India, Ukraine, UAE, Poland, Germany, Portugal, France, Cyprus and Italy. Recently, he has earned several international awards and recognitions for his photography, including Finalist by Street Photography International Awards 2022, Finalist by Miami Street Photography Awards 2022, Finalist by Eyeshot Open Call 2022, 2nd Prize & Finalist by the Italian Street Photography Awards 2022, ‘Category Winner of the Year’ by Muse Photography Awards 2021 and Silver Medal by Paris International Street Photography Awards 2020, to mention a few.

Over the years, Casero has explored and experimented with a wide spectrum of materials, subjects and concepts. He motivates others by collaborating through art projects like “Ha?: The Laughing Boy Project” and promoting the freedom of self expression through art.

In February 2023, Art Fair Philippines made a triumphant return to its physical venue, The Link Carpark in Makati, after two years of virtual and socially distanced fairs.

From this moment – a symbolic return to a pre pandemic state – visual artist and photographer Hersley Casero took his cue and presented a set of three photographs from his archive that straddled consistent truths amid ever changing times.
The number three was no accident, with the colors: a yellow light, the blue sea, and red onions being a reference to the country’s flag. Perhaps an ode to a nation that survived the grips of a global crisis, or perhaps testament to a will that has no other goal but to overcome any and every challenge faced.

Nothing is more captivating than the sea and its mysteries, and for most of existence, it is a force to be feared. However in “Free Falling,” an award-winning vignette of pandemic life in Dumaguete, Casero shows his flair for capturing the spontaneity of children vis-a-vis nature. Unbothered by matters of consequence, the only thing on their mind is a better dive or a more spectacular splash into the waters off Bantayan Beach. Playing around is a habit.

The titular piece “Onion Kids,” made quite a stir as it was shown hot on the heels of the so-called onion crisis in the country, when the cost per kilo went up to as much as 1,000 pesos. The abundance of the produce in the image juxtaposed with the innocence of the children playing around it was another marker of our time in the pandemic. Maybe it is also a reminder of a collective naiveté where we take the resources and blessings we have for granted. Appreciating the small things in life is a choice.

Going back a bit further to 2015 is the cleverly christened “Paligid,” which for Filipino speakers immediately translates to “environment.” In the Negros vernacular, it is “to roll,” derived from “ligid” which means “wheel” or “tire.” When one chances upon this photograph, with its sublime interaction of light and dust, of shadow and movement – a poignant environment unfolds – and with a longer gaze, the figures of children playing, rolling tires, emerge. Pursuit of the good image is a tradition.

What sets Casero apart from the plethora of street photographers is his somewhat unique predisposition in catching a scene that is largely dictated by framing and composition. This is thoroughly explored in a series of smaller photographs entitled “Catch a Moment.” He goes on consistent photowalks, which allows access to certain snippets in time. This is evident in his photographs from Bantayan Beach, a frequent hangout of local kids. One pandemic day around lunchtime, and while other photographers left to eat, Casero stayed, knowing that a shot was waiting. This was when “Onion Kids” was taken. “Paligid” was a scene not far from his house, but he had set out that morning, with a sense of foreseen randomness.

Two months after the fair in Manila, Mugna Gallery restages the exhibition to extend its viewership and influence. Interestingly, what makes these photographs resonate well is that while they are the Onion Kids; we, the viewers, are the same. Life imitates art, and whether happy or sad, Onion Kids are always crying.

By Koki Lxx

Hersley-Ven Casero is a multidisciplinary visual artist, street and documentary photographer based in Dumaguete City, Philippines. He received his BSC in Marketing and an Artist of the Year Award from Foundation University, and in 2018, the Negros Oriental Young Heroes Award in the field of Visual Arts. In 2019, Casero became the first Filipino to participate in the Chalk Hill Artist Residency program based in California USA, after they awarded him one of their limited spots as a sponsored artist.

Being born and raised in Dumaguete, the city has shaped Casero’s perspective as a visual artist and is the stage for many of his paintings and photographs. His works have been recognized and published in local, national and international publications and exhibitions, including various cities around the USA, India, Ukraine, UAE, Poland, Germany, Portugal, France, Cyprus and Italy. Recently, he has earned several international awards and recognitions for his photography, including Finalist by Street Photography International Awards 2022, Finalist by Miami Street Photography Awards 2022, Finalist by Eyeshot Open Call 2022, 2nd Prize & Finalist by the Italian Street Photography Awards 2022, ‘Category Winner of the Year’ by Muse Photography Awards 2021 and Silver Medal by Paris International Street Photography Awards 2020, to mention a few.

Over the years, Casero has explored and experimented with a wide spectrum of materials, subjects and concepts. He motivates others by collaborating through art projects like “Ha?: The Laughing Boy Project” and promoting the freedom of self expression through art.

Viewing Room
Free Falling
2020
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Paligid
2015
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Onion Kids
2020
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Catch A Moment - 01
2015
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Catch a Moment - 02
2013
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Catch a Moment - 03
2020
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Catch a Moment - 04
2020
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Catch a Moment - 05
2012
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Catch a Moment - 06
2020
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Catch a Moment - 07
2020
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Catch a Moment - 08
2021
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Catch a Moment - 09
2015
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Catch a Moment - 10
2022
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Catch a Moment - 11
2020
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Catch a Moment - 12
2016
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