Time & Location
About the Event
Antipas Delotavo’s practice can be apprehended along parallel considerations of the formal and context. His realism, one that privileges images of labour and their conditions, is associated to the rhetorical play of class struggle framed under the banner of social realism in the Philippines. The regard for the body, as apparent index of such struggles, points to an orthodoxy of social realism as a refrain of ideology. Such regard, however, undermines the complexity that informs his imageries. Delotavo’s realism
is marked by a confluence of formal conventions, and a reconsideration of the tableau, settings and subjects. The archetypal imageries of the Filipinos, fed by iconic figures found in the paintings of Carlos ‘Botong’ Francisco, Fernando C. Amorsolo and the Neo-Realists formed part of the realist vocabulary that intersected Delotavo’s prodigious abilities for the figure and naturalism, into which he proposes the real rather than the ideal, conscious in his regard against mannerist pitfalls.
Delatavo’s resistance against conventions and self-parody necessitates the articulation of the figure faithful to its referent, the working class, its conditions, and its milieu. This very practice is rooted into experience and context, as a series of unfolding events not merely to be regarded as broad historical shifts and ideological challenges, but rather confounding tribulations that impacted the minutiae of the realities of the everyday, and contributing to a sense of disenfranchisement and alienation. Delotavo invokes labour’s asymmetrical relationship with the forces of economy and power, a relationship that is evolving rather than static, acknowledging shifts and transformations. In his works spanning from the 1970s, Delotavo prompts reflections into the questions of agency and status of the underclass seen in relation to militarism, dictatorship, the rise of ‘people’s power’, and mobility of Filipino labour abroad and its consequences.
Practice cannot be held exclusive from the very ideals it proposes to project. If art making is to be positioned as a form of social or political activism, its relationship with the capitalistic structure that sustain it becomes a vexing question of complicity and resistance. Dire Patterns, Delotavo’s latest series of paintings presented in this exhibition, is remarkable for its calculated regard to the artist’s staunch convictions and reflections into the nature of art consumption. In each of the paintings exhibition, Delotavo’s ornamented wall is intriguing for its reference to the shifts and slippages of significations, and the questions it poses to ideas, struggles, and the consequences of market aestheticism. Further, that very wall insists a separation that sustains differing realities, and as we spectate the interiors made visible to us, Delotavo cleverly frames our perceptive limits, an apt critique on reception and consumption.
Included in this modest publication are essay contributions by Alice Guillermo and Jose Tence Ruiz. A writer who has extensively written on Filipino art of the 1970s and beyond, Guillermo’s essay positions Delotavo in a milieu of practice informed by changes and continuities of the visual landscape in a globalizing system. Tradition, religion, modernity, and popular culture find accommodation in Delotavo’s Dire Patterns, an ensemble of ‘parables’ of the contemporary condition, each painting proposes a scenographic unity that unravels as elements are scrutinized and their relationships questioned. Ruiz’s essay provides a biographical account of the artist, intertwining the artist’s worldview and regard to society and art to his early childhood experiences. The NUS Museum is grateful to Alice Guillermo and Jose Tence Ruiz for their astute knowledge and perspectives. These accounts are significant in providing insights into art in Philippines and Southeast Asia. Further, the exhibition is also presented alongside the Museum’s permanent exhibition of works by Ng Eng Teng. While these exhibitions should not be read simultaneously to one another, the respective artists’ predisposition for the figure prompts common questions relating to the body as site of contestations along a range of fronts including its condition and the notions of self and agency.
This exhibition will not be possible without the energy and commitment of the artist. The NUS Museum wishes to thank Antipas Delotavo as well as congratulate him for the series of paintings presented in the exhibition. We wish also to thank Alice Guillermo for her curatorial insights. The project is developed in partnership with Artesan, we are grateful to Roberta Dans for her ideas and passion and we look forward to further collaborations.