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b. 1980, Philippines

Rodel Tapaya Biography

Rodel Tapaya is a leading Philippine painter who is known for his large-scale canvases, narrative murals and sculptural installations that evoke the primordial rainforests of indigenous folklore as allegories for the present reality.

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Often executed on canvas, glass, or burlap, Tapaya creates unique cosmologies out of labyrinthine forms, weaving together mythical creatures with hallucinogenic landscapes that recall the magic realism and political praxis of Mexican muralists. In doing so, the artist addresses the conflict between tradition and rapid urbanisation, global labour and rural exodus, and the nation's ongoing postcolonial traumas.

Born in 1980 in Montalban, Rizal, Tapaya received the Top Prize in the Nokia Art Awards in 2001, which enabled him to study at Parsons School of Design in New York and the University of Helsinki. He completed his degree at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts, and in 2011 was awarded the Signature Art Prize: a triennial award recognising the most distinguished artworks to emerge from the Asia-Pacific region.

Tapaya's work draws extensively from a rich history of Filipino literary folklore, piecing together pictorial fragments to create complex scenes that grapple with contemporary politics, and social and environmental concerns. In his installation Modern Manananggals (2014), winged figures of Visayas origin detached from their legs reference the millions of overseas Filipino workers who labour under poor working conditions and are unable to return home. Bagobo, B'laan, Ibanag, and Zambales mythology are all evoked to create a powerful animist vision that situates ancestral knowledge and ecological specificity in the everyday.

Tapaya's visually arresting compositions and flattened, decorative surfaces are also indicative of a complex relationship with Mexican muralists such as José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera. Similar to Riviera, Tapaya's creationist motifs play a role in examining ideas of national history and identity. For example, the giant Bernardo Carpio, responsible for the earthquakes in Tapaya's mountainous hometown and a symbol of Filipino freedom against Spanish, Japanese and American oppression recurs alongside revolutionary heroes Andres Bonifacio and José Rizal.

The archetypes Tapaya uses situate the balance of power not in the economic hubs of cities, but the jungles, where spiritual and communal values still flourish. 'In some way, I realise that old stories are not just metaphors. I can find connections with contemporary time. It's like the myths are poetic narrations of the present,' the artist explains.

Amy Weng | Ocula | 2020

Rodel Tapaya Featured Artworks

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Even the longest day has its end by Rodel Tapaya contemporary artwork
Rodel TapayaEven the longest day has its end, 2021Acrylic on canvas
152.4 x 121.9 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Contact Gallery
Grandmother’s Tale by Rodel Tapaya contemporary artwork
Rodel TapayaGrandmother’s Tale, 2021Acrylic on canvas
152.4 x 121.9 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Contact Gallery
Left behind by Rodel Tapaya contemporary artwork
Rodel TapayaLeft behind, 2021Acrylic on canvas
135 x 135 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Contact Gallery
Lost in the Woods by Rodel Tapaya contemporary artwork
Rodel TapayaLost in the Woods, 2020Acrylic on canvas
152.4 x 122 cm
Sold
Yavuz Gallery
My Way by Rodel Tapaya contemporary artwork
Rodel TapayaMy Way, 2016Acrylic on canvas
173 x 193 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Contact Gallery
Capital B by Rodel Tapaya contemporary artwork
Rodel TapayaCapital B, 2017Acrylic on canvas
193 x 152.4 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Contact Gallery
Five Months by Rodel Tapaya contemporary artwork
Rodel TapayaFive Months, 2017Reverse painting acrylic on acrylic sheet with wooden frame
122 x 91 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Contact Gallery
The Paradox of Plenty by Rodel Tapaya contemporary artwork
Rodel TapayaThe Paradox of Plenty, 2015Acrylic on canvas
121.92 x 355.28 cm
Not for sale
Duddell's

Rodel Tapaya Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Rodel Tapaya, Random Numbers at Tang Contemporary Art, Hong Kong
Closed
22 April–15 May 2021 Rodel Tapaya Random Numbers Tang Contemporary ArtHong Kong
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Closer than they appear at Yavuz Gallery, Sydney
Closed
30 July–28 August 2020 Group Exhibition Closer than they appear Yavuz GallerySydney
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Echo among Geographies at Tang Contemporary Art, Hong Kong
Closed
19 March–18 April 2020 Group Exhibition Echo among Geographies Tang Contemporary ArtHong Kong

Rodel Tapaya Represented By

Tang Contemporary Art contemporary art gallery in Beijing, China Tang Contemporary Art Hong Kong, Beijing, Bangkok

Rodel Tapaya In Ocula Magazine

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Rodel Tapaya’s Random Numbers Ocula Insight Rodel Tapaya’s Random Numbers By Diana d'Arenberg, Hong Kong

Rodel Tapaya's latest paintings are an explosive collision between humanity, the natural world, and the human-made.

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Artist Highlights: Art Fair Philippines Ocula Insight Artist Highlights: Art Fair Philippines By Tessa Moldan, Manila

Between 6 and 15 May 2021, Art Fair Philippines shifts entirely online with 43 international exhibitors.

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Southeast Asia Focus at London’s Cromwell Place Ocula Insight Southeast Asia Focus at London’s Cromwell Place By Tessa Moldan, London

The Possibility of an Island at Cromwell Place brings together works by artists from across Southeast Asia.

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A Change of Scene: Art Stage Singapore 2018 Ocula Feature A Change of Scene: Art Stage Singapore 2018 By Diana d'Arenberg, Singapore

This year marked the eighth edition of Art Stage Singapore (26–28 January 2018), founded with the goal of bringing together galleries and art from Southeast Asia under the roof of the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre. The fair was, in its initial years, seen as Singapore's answer to Art Basel, but with a distinct regional...

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In Ocula Advisory

Advisory Highlights 
at Art Basel Hong Kong Advisory Perspective

The Ocula Advisory team select their picks from Art Basel Hong Kong, running between 21 and 23 May 2021, with preview days on 19 and 20 May 2021.

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Rodel Tapaya In Related Press

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Filipino Artists Rodel Tapaya & Marina Cruz Collaborate With Jim Thompson Related Press Filipino Artists Rodel Tapaya & Marina Cruz Collaborate With Jim Thompson 13 May 2020, Philippine Tatler

The Immaculate Conception Academy (ICA) Falcons Batch 1995 is celebrating their silver jubilee with an ultra special auction featuring an exquisite painting by famed artist, Marina Cruz. In celebration of their anniversary milestone, they collaborated with the talented couple Marina Cruz and Rodel Tapaya and the incredible silk maker brand Jim...

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Preview: 6 highlights from Asia Now art fair, Paris Related Press Preview: 6 highlights from Asia Now art fair, Paris 19 October 2016, Art Radar Journal

The Parisian edition of Asia Now, 20 – 23 October 2016, intends to create a France-based platform for commercial and 'intellectual exchange' for the Asia-pacific arts community. Art Radar previews 6 must sees and speaks to Director Alexandra Fain about the fair in its second edition as well as curator Magda Danysz about the special...

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WASAK! Filipino Art Today at ARNDT Berlin Related Press WASAK! Filipino Art Today at ARNDT Berlin 12 January 2016, Art Radar

ARNDT gallery and the newly established ARNDT Art Agency A3 in Berlin present WASAK! Filipino Art Today. The exhibition, which opened on 5 December 2015 and continues until 30 January 2016, attempts the formidable task of mapping the art of a geographic region distinctive for its splintered nature. ARNDT, a gallery that focuses its attention...

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Global Vision for Art Related Press Global Vision for Art 28 May 2015, Singapore Art Gallery Guide

Matthias Arndt established ARNDT in 1994 as one of the first contemporary art galleries with an international profile in a district that had formerly been part of East Berlin. Five years ago, ARNDT opened a new gallery in Asia’s new art hub Gillman Barracks in Singapore, expanding its focus to include the vibrant art landscapes of Asia...

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Rodel Tapaya In Video & Audio

Echo among Geographies exhibition tour (19 March–18 April 2020) | 地缘间的回音, 中文导览 Related Video & Audio Echo among Geographies exhibition tour (19 March–18 April 2020) | 地缘间的回音, 中文导览 31 March 2020, Tang Contemporary Art

当代唐人艺术中心荣幸地将于 2020年 3月 19日于香港空间推出本年度重点群展 -「地缘间的回音」,展出七位享誉国际的当代艺术家的创作。

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