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  • Start

    15 November 2018
  • End

    31 December 2018
  • Artist

  • Gallery

    Altro Mondo Arte Contemporanea
    3F, Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center Makati City
    Philippines 1228

Antipas Delotavo, popularly known to friends in the art community as “Biboy,” was one of the stalwarts and pillars of the Social Realist group of artists in the wake of the Martial Law regime, under the dreaded and hated Marcos dictatorship. Rendered voiceless by the media, suppressed by the military, a group of artists banded under the name “Kaisahan,” which united such artists as Edgar Fernandez, Renato Habulan, Pablo Baens Santos, Neil Doloricon, Orlando Castillo, Papo de Asis, Al Manrique, and Jose Tence Ruiz. In Negros, social realism was bannered by the art of Nunelucio Alvarado, Charlie Co, and Norberto Roldan.

Though engaged in socio-political problems, the works of Delotavo were distinguished by an acutely sensitive depiction of the working class whose faces were individually limned with  lyrical pathos, each visage lined with intensely seething emotion, and the figure manifested in body language that conveyed the unspoken misery and grievance, despair and a haplessly resigned will. Portraiture remains  Delotavo’s strongest suit, a skill which he has brought to bear on all his works through the decades. He has created iconic works depicting the hegira of the OFWs, viewed from the back at the moment of their departure, a phalanx of human emblems starting to dematerialize as cogs in the wheels of Middle Eastern affluence.

Flash forward to the present: Delotavo now trains his observant critical eye on a subject that has of late surprisingly taken center stage in the consciousness of the upper social and economic class: Art. Largely propelled by the astonishing and relentless blitz of the auction houses, art has captured such feverish attention and interest, marked by descendants of the modern-day ilustrados, the buena familia,  now unloading their cache of masterpieces that used to hang in their palatial homes. But in Delotavo’s current show at the Altro Mondo Gallery titled “Marginals,” the artist exposes the supreme irony pervading the scene. While the privileged class continue to gloat on the surfeit of art – the sellers glorying in what the envious might term “filthy lucre” while the buyers trumpet with pride their latest acquisition – the ordinary common Filipinos go about their daily lives, occupied with their meager existence, unperturbed by all the excitement of Art.

In this suite of works, Delotavo consistently uses an ornate decorative frame floating right on the center of the pictorial space, while counterpointed all around the edges or borders are the milling ordinary Filipinos. Art is totally absent from their concerns or consciousness. Indeed, Delotavo has observed from his interactions with people who often cross his path that they regard art objects as simply expensive material things, the objects of desire of the upper class. We are hypnotized  into staring in space by the sustained insistent presence of the floating carved and gilded frame – in fact, bearing no image, onto which we can fantasize a painting by Amorsolo or any other National Artist.

In the current temper of the times, shaped by the culture of impunity exemplified by the insatiable killings, the degradation of Filipino values, the pervasive beastliness of behavior, the vulgarity of speech, and our spiraling descent into the status of a narco-state courtesy of emptied magnetic lifters, Social Realist Antipas Delotavo brings up the subject of Art vis-à-vis the populace. Rich with allusions to the art industry that symbolizes a way of life totally divorced from the reality of the majority of our countrymen, “Marginals” were not conceived in a spirit of play but of dead seriousness. For the artists meant them as visual and aesthetic barbs that should spur and embed the subject right into the center of our consciousness and not relegated in the margins of our apathy and indifference.