Rodel Tapaya: Visions of Lore

Tapaya’s paintings recurrently depict narratives embedded in Filipino cultural history that offer sharp and often piercing commentary on contemporary life and issues. Through his adept manipulation of folk aesthetic and material, Tapaya provides his mythical characters with allegorical significances that transcend common perception, offering fresh insights about their origins and relevance. The paintings become a tableau of the painter’s articulations and traces of the stories that inspired them. Sometimes his characters appear in archetypes culled from pre-colonial historical research and recorded folktales from recent scholarship. The recurrence of the themes and his characters can also be seen as simply the depiction of common people engaged or merely surrounded in magic or captured in moments in a story’s plot—vulnerable—not unlike people in ordinary life. This manner of painting them connects Visions of Lore with his previous exhibits that dwelt with his more palpable and immediate reality.
Tapaya’s confluence of folk narrative and contemporary reality are framed within the themes of memory and history. Each work has its origin in Tapaya’s own reflection of a particular time or place with an enduring resonance, from its correspondence with the formalistic and psychological implications through often protracted ventures to excavate and interpret the material source of his myths. Inherent in the work is the tension and parallelism between the objective investigations of painting and the subjectivity of perception and experience. Critics have easily suggested a narrative intent but, as art historian Patrick Flores explains, closer scrutiny immediately presents the viewer with enigmas: “Tapaya grapples with the problem of visualization and cultural politics of visuality: Just how does one picture myth, How does one make it appear? How does one compose its look and elicit a suitable gaze for it? What, were, when is its tropic?”
The works of Tapaya in Visions of Lore accentuate the vulnerability of his characters by pairing the deliberate expressions and peculiar poise of the painted faces with the painting’s specialized color and pattern. The simultaneous scenes depicted in “The Magic Sleep” further the exhibition’s aura of fantasy. In the “Big Fish” and “Voices in the Wilderness,” humans interact with animals without dominance, engaging them with a gesture that seems equally affectionate and fearful. This is likewise true in the manner of Kabunian (a native God) speaking to a mortal in “Origin of the Rice.” For Tapaya, these works illustrate a time and place so strange and yet familiar at once. It neither belongs to the past or the present entirely, nor to fiction and reality, wherein magical behaviour is treated ordinarily, similar to the device perpetrated by Magic Realists in literature.
Rodel Tapaya was born in Montalban, Rizal, Philippines in 1980 and studied at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts, as well as at the Parsons School of Design and University of Helsinki. Recent solo and group exhibitions include Bulaklak ng Dila, Vargas Museum (2011); The Beast I have Become, Y++, Beijing, China (2011) and Thrice Upon a time, Singapore Art Museum (2009). He has been notably included in numerous international art fairs and expositions. With a young career belted with numerous accolades, he is widely regarded as one of Southeast Asia’s most active artists.
Galerie Caprice will host the first solo exhibition in Berlin of the celebrated Filipino painter, Rodel Tapaya. Ten large acrylic paintings executed during the past year will be on view at the gallery’s space at the Rudi-Dutschke-Str. 26, D – 10969 from 10 September 2011 to 15 January 2012, with an opening reception on Friday, 09 September at 8pm. This will be Tapaya’s second large-scale exhibition since his critically acclaimed survey show at the Vargas Museum in Manila and will likewise include images of fantastic creatures and folk religious and mythological scenes.
For more information, please contact Galerie Caprice Horn by phone: +49 (0)30 – 44 04 89 29.
For image and press requests, please contact Doerte Achilles: doerte@capricehorn.com

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