Contemporary Art from the Philippines
Owen James Galleryis pleased to present some of the leading contemporary artists from the Philippines.
The four artists, all based in and around Manila, are: Mariano Ching, Dex Fernandez, Dina Gadiaand
While Southeast Asia has blossomed in the global contemporary art market over the last 10 years, Manila
stands out in many ways from the region. The art coming out of Manila is dynamic, colorful, and makes
use of a wide variety of materials. The emerging artists of Manila do not attempt to simply bridge traditional
art / craft techniques with conceptual practices. Instead, they reflect the deep impact of colonialism under
Spain and the United States, and the topsyturvy nature of their current political reality and recent history.
The Philippineshas been transformed through colonisation far more than any other country in the region,
partly because it was colonized for so long. There is an ongoing struggle in the country to define itself, to
reemerge from the past and to become whole again. In these art forms the pervasiveness of Catholic
traditions, as introduced by the Spanish, are heavily contrasted with disillusionment over the Church’s
inability to confront the overpopulation, political corruption, and the squandering of economic resources
that is so rampant in the country. The images of American pop culture, from inane movies and television
shows to comic books, brandname luxury products and fast foods are often used not in admiration, but in
defiant rejection of their presumed authority.
The four artists presented here have distinct methods and points of view: Chingis best known for his
surreal drawings and paintings of disfigured subjects; Fernandeztransforms photographs with the colors,
designs and symbols of graffiti; Gadia collages pieces of comics, advertisements and ephemera;
Langeneggerpaints intentionally awkward and disturbing caricatures of life. All of these artists, however,
are united in their rawly energetic, conceptually adroit, and humorous approaches to the modern world.
The pure freedom of expression found in these works is perhaps what best defines the current artistic