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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 painting
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 painting
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 painting
Rodel TapayaLeft behind, 2021Acrylic on canvas
135 x 135 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Contact Gallery
Lost in the Woods by Rodel Tapaya contemporary artwork painting
Rodel TapayaLost in the Woods, 2020Acrylic on canvas
152.4 x 122 cm
Sold
Yavuz Gallery
My Way by Rodel Tapaya contemporary artwork painting
Rodel TapayaMy Way, 2016Acrylic on canvas
173 x 193 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Contact Gallery
Capital B by Rodel Tapaya contemporary artwork painting
Rodel TapayaCapital B, 2017Acrylic on canvas
193 x 152.4 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Contact Gallery
Five Months by Rodel Tapaya contemporary artwork painting
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 painting
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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Rodel Tapaya Represented By

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

Rodel Tapaya In Ocula Magazine

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In Ocula Advisory

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 celebrat

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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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