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Culture as Talisman

Visual artist John Frank Sabado looks to the future but doesn’t forget the past. This is most evident in Culture as Talisman, a solo exhibition which brings Sabado’s penchant for linking the indigenous with the contemporary, both in context of the material and spiritual, to the fore. Also on display is his proclivity towards representations of nature and talismans, offering an insight into ancestral memory.


Sabado’s extensive knowledge on the beliefs and traditions of the Cordillera is the driving force behind works, informing his craft-based approach which is deeply rooted in the art of indigenous people. He also borrows imagery from native culture, such as the “bulols” (wooden figures) showcased in some of his pieces, representing the guardians of the Cordillerans that protect nature from industrialization.


Through his works, Sabado also turns his sights on himself, using his medium to interpret his cultural identity and reiterate his beliefs. The undulating patterns and vibrant palettes of the works, coupled with otherworldly imagery of myths and the gods and goddesses of yore, underscore the value of culture as our talisman to educate and enchant us in times of desperation.