When Rodel Tapaya first burst into the scene some six or seven years ago, he did a series of portraits of people in the neighborhood, a group of works he christened Pintados. Using burlap sacks as his ground, he embellished the visages of such characters as the town gossip, the mayor, and the village slacker with patterns taken from the tattooed natives of Pre-Hispanic Philippines.
A hankering to revisit those portraits served as impetus to the works now hanging at West Gallery’s Gallery 1. His exhibit, Dieties, marries that desire and his current preoccupation with Filipino folk tales. Rodel’s seven new paintings (uniformly sized at 49.5 x 39.5 inches) depict gods from local lore whose features have been put together from elements that characterize their dominions, somewhat like Guiseppe Arcimboldo’s likenesses formed by artfully arranged fruits and vegetables.
Mirrors incorporated into the acrylic paintings complement details painted by Rodel in jewel-toned layers. He has used the mirrors to replace his subjects’ eyes. Each piece has also been finished with its own glass mirror frame.
The changing reflections on the mirrored surfaces, plus the opulent colors and myriad patterns on canvas, combine to deliver an unexpected, almost kinetic, experience for the viewer. One can only imagine how much further Rodel can take this new approach.
The best exhibits bring on surprises. Deities does not only do that, it also affirms the talent of an artist who refuses to rest on his laurels, but continues to evolve and experiment.
On view as well, at Gallery 2 and 3, functional art from Broke, the design collaboration of Gary Ross Pastrana and Jeremy Guiab. Lamps fabricated to resemble structures such as billboard frames and transmission towers have been set atop stands and scattered throughout the two spaces. The pieces are remarkably delicate in spite of their masculine bent, and are even quite elegant as sculptures. They could benefit from being displayed in a less compact space.
Froilan Calayag’s fantastic furry critters from his imaginary subterranean universe take over Gallery 4.
Rodel Tapaya Dieties, Broke, and Froilan Calayag NIght of the Gifted Children run from 6 to 17 November 2012 at West Gallery, 48 West Avenue, Quezon City. Phone (632) 411-0336 or visit www.westgallery.org or https://www.facebook.com/WestGallery