Rodel Tapaya: Deities

Rodel Tapaya: Deities

Rodel Tapaya, Tungkung-Langit, acrylic on canvas and mirror glass, 49.5in x 39.5in, 2012, courtesy of the artist

The depictions of these native gods resurface in Rodel Tapaya’s work from oral traditions around ancient beliefs in the Philippine religion, a religion that believes that gods existed in many forms and that there is an invisible realm within our world. Contained in the format of a portrait, they are rendered as abstracted combinations of images that relate to forgotten notions on the nature of the spiritual realm. These seven characters, expressive of their archaic origins, form a pantheon of false representations that turn the idols as portals into the recesses of dreams. The painter is interested not in capturing the likeness but the spirit of his subjects. After all, they existed largely without bodies and their anamorphic faces can be read as reflecting the nature they dominated.
Meanwhile, we are caught by the eyes made of mirrors reflecting our gaze, signifying an ageless and impenetrable existence, one that is enveloped in the splendor of mysterious vistas. In arresting the energy of his images, Tapaya creates work that surpasses the subject’s materiality. The milieu becomes ambiguous and in many works there is no indication of facial features, impregnating a sense of infinity and fluctuation to an otherwise distinguishable silhouette.
These works are exhibited in mirror frames, as if altar saints – treasured relics of a more religious era. The manner of presentation renders them untouchable on both literal and figurative levels despite the approachability of their intimate size and physical presence. These idols become surrogates of the people they watch over. The painter breathes life into the mystique, challenging the recording of the imagination. The paintings, accordingly, are not to be read as honest depictions, but rather, as transcending reality, and as visual rumination on the past. The works emerge almost in worship; an impulse to inhabit known material and discover unexpected points of congregation. In merging abstruse and improbable elements, the lines are erased between our vernacular belief and fine art, spectator and spectacle, retention and imagination across time. – Geronimo Cristobal, Jr.

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Marina Cruz: Inside Out

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Marina Cruz, Laced-top, 2012, mixed-media assemblage, 37 in x 55 in

Immersed in the various conceptual layers offered by her mother’s collection of dresses, Marina Cruz conveys a series of related pictures as part of her process of representing the narratives weaved upon them, focusing on the discrepancies between visual and verbal references. Through her three-fold representations, Marina Cruz’s latest body of work alludes to the gaps between memory and representation; the envisioning moment towards the development of a painting in the manner in which Joseph Kosuth tackled the seminal conceptual work, One and Three Chairs.

The exhibition is a follow-up to Marina Cruz’s “foot-noted” paintings for the Ernst and Young ASEAN Art Outreach entitled The Connective Thread. She says the method was born out of her curiosity “to present what the wearer of the dress felt on their skin against what is seen on the outside.” “The difference between two appearances of the same thing,” she adds “defies a single formal understanding.” One dress can be represented in multiple ways, rendering the photograph and the dress painted on the canvas elusive to a strict definition. First used in her Unfold Series of 2008, the incorporated notes of her accounts and interviews about the dresses, suggests their value as story-tellers of the lives of people they once clothed. Composed uniformly like a photo-album, the works signal the combination the artists’ techniques of visual deconstruction. These works relate to the fragmented experiences in the lives of her twin mother and aunt, seldom associated with her art as a conscious process of recollection.

Marina Cruz was born in Hagonoy, Bulacan. She graduated cum laude from the University of the
Philippines College of Fine Arts and has since shown prominently in several exhibitions in Manila, New York, Beijing, Jakarta, Singapore, and Hongkong with the Drawing Room Gallery. Her first solo exhibition outside the country, The Connective Thread, for the Ernst and Young ASEAN Art Outreach Program was held in Singapore. In 2007, she won both the grand prize of the Philippine Art Awards and the Ateneo Art Awards which gave her the opportunity to attend a fellowship at La Trobe University’s Visual Arts Center in Bendigo, Australia. She was also awarded the Freeman Fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center in 2008. Her solo exhibition, Inside Out at Ben Cab Museum, will concurrently run with another exhibition, In the House of Memory, at MSAC- Taipei which will open on the 5th of May.

Marina Cruz: Inside Out
Gallery Indigo, BENCAB Museum,
Km. 6, Asin Road, Tuba,
Metro Baguio City, Philippines
April 21 – June 17, 2012
Opening: Friday, April 21, 2012, 4 – 6:30 PM