Monday, September 21, 2009

TARUSH! ] Social realism is just a "look." Or so says Manuel Ocampo

manuel_workBackground: 'Forward to the Sweet Tranquility of the Status Quo.' Foreground: Detail of 'Agent of Good + Bad Criticism: In Need of Plumbing,' 2009, mixed media, dimensions variable. From ongoing exhibit at Pablo Gallery.

Philippine Star:Who are currently your favorite Filipino artists?
Manuel Ocampo: If the world would consider Dan Flavin as a Filipino artist, since he uses the florescent tube (which was invented by a Filipino,) then he would be it. But jokes aside, at present among the post-painters I would mention Argie Bandoy and Jayson Oliveria. I like the way they’re rescuing abstract painting from the dregs of interior-decorator kitsch, corny spirituality, and high seriousness into something dangerous and tasteless, as well as obscene, funny, clumsy, and full of bad design and glaring missteps. If there is such a thing as abstract-jologs then their work would be it. I like Gerry Tan’s work in the way he reflects on paintings methods of anticipating and redefining its relationship to digital reproduction. He’s introducing new aspects and parameters into how we can use painting to question the digital barrage that is infiltrating our consciousness.

Robert Langenegger’s and Romeo Lee’s works are undoubtedly nihilistic yet there is an insane cheerfulness to their approach since their paintings are fantastically made-up jokes. It is astonishing, for example, how much the series of motifs employed by these artists overlap with those found in Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel. In the works, we encounter a humor of the immediately physical, and references to the topics of nourishment, digestion, sexuality, misery and death.

'How many depictions of farmers, workers, raised fists, chains, fat cats, evil businessmen and corrupt politicians can we take?'

I would also like to include the video works of Poklong (Anading). And the photos of MM Yu and Lena “D’hyena” Cobangbang.

Philippine Star:Who are the Filipino artists whose works you find abhorrent?
Manuel Ocampo: There are really no Filipino artists whose works I find abhorrent. I’m just puzzled by the hype surrounding the so-called “realists” — the type of works that are predominant at art auctions nowadays. I find their stuff retrograde and unimaginative. I’m also turned off by Social Realist paintings. I find the politics behind it naive and at times hypocritical. The way they are painted and the content, too, doesn’t appeal to me. How many depictions of farmers, workers, raised fists, chains, fat cats, evil businessmen and corrupt politicians can we take?

Social Realism is just a “look.”

From Igan D Bayan's interview with the artist Manuel Ocampo, published today in The Philippine Star. The entire story here. Manuel's Monuments to the Institutional Critique of Myself is on view up to the 26th of September at Pablo Gallery, Unit C-11 South of Market Condominium, The Fort.

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