February - March 2021
Hiraya Gallery, 530 United Nations Avenue, Ermita, Manila
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
I. The paintings depict and address current (and therefore contemporary) events and issues in the Philippines.
Ø The hashtag in the title of the work, #WhatNow? hints at the age segment of the population from whom the ideas in it originate as well as to whom these are being addressed. In this work the artist reflects upon the social and political conditions in the country at present and concludes that today Filipinos are no better off. In fact the country is in chaos as a raging fire burns under weeping Inang Bayan (Mother Country). While a sliver of the population cry “Revolution”, the lowlier among the citizenry are reduced to scavengers and homeless urchins. All over and above them are those on whom the artist lays blame:
· Political dynasties (top center, represented by the enthroned face growing a tree from its nose) – the term refers to members of the same family occupying elected positions either in sequence for the same position, or simultaneously across different positions. This phenomenon has increasingly occurred since 1986, the end of the Marcos regime. A recent study found that poverty entrenches political dynasties.[i]
· Institutionalized greed - symbolized by the statue-like figure with a crocodile’s head.
· Corrupt politicians beneath the enthroned face, groveling figures in white, growing Pinocchio noses lengthening in proportion to their lies.
· Leaders of business, commerce and industry (top right, in smart sunshades) bereft of social conscience, motivated only by profit.
· The clergy (top left, in white) – church leaders, ineffectual moral guides who look every which way but at what’s happening.
· Other sycophants – maintaining the status quo with gloved applause, their silent approval.
· Terrorists (far right) – threats from the margins that serve only to confuse.
II. The paintings exhibit characteristics peculiar to Philippine painting and representative of Filipino aesthetics.
Ø Visual imagery that are distinctively Filipino:
· Inang Bayan – the weeping lady in #What Now? is a metaphor for the motherland. This visual trope began to appear in Philippine popular culture in the late 1880s around the time of the propaganda movement against Spain.
· Crocodile – locally called buwaya, the animal is a commonplace metaphor for a greedy person. The equivalence is accepted and understandable to all Filipinos all over the country, whatever their language and ethnicity.
· Episodic treatment of history – in many instances in Philippine art, the preferred treatment of historical themes is not the “significant moment” used in western art tradition but an array of various episodes in a lengthy story.
· No central focus – the episodes depicted in the story have almost the same importance such that there is no one focal point but multiple points of interests in the tableau-like structure.
Ø Visual elements that cater specifically to preferences of Filipino audiences and appeal directly to Filipino sensibilities.
· Photorealism. The ability to mimic optical verisimilitude is highly admired by most Filipinos especially in paintings as it is considered a demonstration of virtuosity.
· Highly detailed, painstaking work. “Yung pinaghirapan” [That for which great effort was made] is a thing-value among Filipinos. Both of Dilla’s paintings satisfy this requirement.
· Personalism. The faces on Dilla’s paintings are actual faces of the painter’s family and friends.
III. Randalf Dilla is a visual art professional with a noteworthy exhibition, sales and awards history.
Ø Dilla earned his Fine Arts degree from FEATI University in Manila, graduating with distinction in 2008. In 2014 he was given a two-month artist residency in Bruchkobel, Germany. His paintings have won national and international awards including First Place in the GSIS Painting Competition in 2007 and the “Most Ambitious Work” prize in the prestigious International Art Renewal Center Awards in New York for Insurrection at the Museum in 2014.
----------- Kristina Subido