Philippine art has been gaining more attention—and raising more eyebrows—in Singapore’s galleries recently. And one artist who is causing a buzz here is Rodel Tapaya. Catch his stuff at his first overseas exhibition Parables, held at Utterly Art.
Absorbing, whimsical and a little uncanny, Tapaya’s paintings are inspired by mythical stories originated from the barrios. Each work comprises a character derived from folklore and set against a patterned background. The characters look a little apprehensive, and, sometimes, even sulky, while neatly camouflaging with their surroundings. When asked about the process of making these works, Tapaya says, “I tried to capture the personality of the main character of stories or parables by painting portraits with suspicious gazes. Prior to drawing these portraits is the making of the leitmotif, or the recurring theme, for the background. The motif or patterns are composed of figures, things and symbolisms relevant to the story. Each painting has a different motif. And the motifs interweave with the representations of the characters.”
Parables shows a departure, as well as a continuum, from Rodel’s previous works. Curator Pwee Keng Hock explains, “Rodel’s earlier paintings were not as figurative or portrait-based and were more academic or abstract, but the element that carries through his works is the use of a grid system. Here, the grid is used to demarcate the patchwork motifs that he has used as background to his works.”
This may only be Rodel’s first overseas show, but his works are worth a look. Come expecting a visual banquet of patterns and motifs entwined with wary characters staring back at you. Riveting and with a distinct rural flavor, Parables is set to be hypnotic.