THE idea is far from new, but it never fails every time, especially when your canvas is as cute and as instantly recognizable as this one. Dimensione, led by its visionary founder Ben Chan, recently
commissioned eight Filipino artists to spruce up the iconic Magis “Wonder Puppy” as they saw fit.
The eight artists, two of whom are architects, are Electrolychee, Mimi Tecson, Farley del Rosario, Jagnus Design, Wesley Valenzuela, Tripp63, Whoop and Nemo Aguila.
Their works are now on display at Dimensione’s flagship store at Bonifacio High Street in Metro Manila. And, in case, a puppy catches your fancy, you can take him (or her) home, as all eight one-of-a-kind art works are for sale. The artists themselves, not Chan, did the pricing.
Should your favorite be taken (too bad!), then you can still enjoy viewing it up close, front, back, center and top, as the pups will be on display at the store’s second level for several weeks.
It wasn’t only a case of embellishment for embellishment’s sake, as each artist drew from his or her strengths and personal experiences, and worked with media he or she is familiar with. Some probably even went out of their way to experiment by exploring unfamiliar techniques and materials to advance their art.
In the case, for instance, of architects Sonny Sunga and Arnold Austria of Jagnus Design, the two totally did away with the original, store-provided plastic puppy and made their own from scratch using gemelina wood.
But in keeping with the “Wonder Pup’s” iconic appearance, the duo remained faithful to its shape, size and dimensions. And since it’s devoid of color, even a light coat of varnish, the piece invariably stood out from the rest of the colorful and flamboyant creations.
Theirs was more a three-dimensional interpretation of the puppy, complete with a series of ridges from head to tail that was part sculpture and part sci-fi, as it looks uncannily like the dog, albeit devoid of color, that walked through a 21st century X-ray machine in the original “Total Recall.”
Folk art was the favorite source of ideas for most of the artists, particularly “Manila boy” Wesley Valenzuela, who derived inspiration from the colorful jeepney of his youth, complete with carved signboards such as Quiapo and Sta. Cruz.
These were places Valenzuela, born and bred in Manila’s Sta. Cruz district, frequented, as he explored and learned about life and art in the city’s crowded streets in between taking up fine arts at the University of Sto. Tomas.
As a tribute to the jeepney’s ubiquitous miniature flying horses that crown its hood, Valenzuela incorporated what seemed like a small pair of wings to his piece. The horses and other traditional buntings once associated with the jeepney are fast disappearing, as both manufacturers and drivers scrimp on needless but iconic décor, as they try to survive and adapt to the hard times.
And except for the colorful and carved detail, set like a saddle on the puppy’s back, Valenzuela painted the rest of his piece white. It works since the pup not only achieves contrast. His decision to go white also highlights the carved and painted add-on that looks both bold and garish like a real jeepney should.
Not a few went whimsical. Mimi Tecson, drawing inspiration from her work with children’s art, studded her “Wonder Puppy” with dozens upon dozens of miniature plastic toy soldiers. And to keep her masterpiece from looking flat, she used multi-colored figures stuck randomly all over her canvas.
From afar, Tecson’s masterpiece looks like it’s covered in Technicolor fur, an upright stuffed toy, if you will, that never fails to draw viewers’ attention. Up close, however, it is a different story.
I just hope the piece survives its entire run without a curious child or two plucking one too many toy soldiers stuck on the pup’s surface.
“Street artist” Whoop went a bit philosophical as he drew inspirations from his real-life pets, living and dead, in a pastel confection primarily in lime green with impressionistic “tattoos” of his various best friends through the years superimposed in different candy shades.
As part of the family, dogs, due to their shorter lifespans, leave behind plenty of fond memories to their owners. And these beautiful, even bittersweet memories, Whoop believes, are tattooed on our minds forever until perhaps the day we die and are reunited in the after life with our furry best friends.
Magis, an Italian furniture brand, is famous for its modern and sculptural furniture and accent pieces made mostly of plastic. “Wonder Puppy” is just one of Magis’ items exclusively featured in “Dimensione.” There’s definitely more.
Like most progressive furniture brands, it doesn’t rely solely on its in-house designers, but constantly collaborates with leading furniture and industrial designers the world over like Phillippe Starck.
Designed by Finish designer Eero Aarnio, the “Wonder Puppy” is sturdy enough to double as an accent piece and, granted it isn’t embellished,also a stool. Like a real dog, it comes in small, medium and large sizes.
Over the years, the piece has enjoyed a cult following among businessmen, celebrities, artists, intellectuals and well-read and globetrotting individuals who love good design as much as they probably do real four-legged dogs.