Ronson Culibrina is a contemporary Filipino artist recognised for his appropriation paintings that reference works by prominent Filipino and international artists. In his oil paintings, which often juxtapose garish psychedelic colours with more subdued tones, Culibrina addresses current socio-political concerns such as power dynamics in art history, globalisation, and human interventions in nature.Read More
For his first solo exhibition—Before Sundown at 1335MABINI, Makati, in 2014—Culibrina presented a series of large paintings that revolve around the oeuvre of Fernando Amorsolo, a 20th-century Filipino artist who influenced the genre of rural scenes. In his paintings, the artist took the old master's masterpieces and replaced their elements with items from works by international contemporary artists. Amorsolo's Untitled (Palay Maiden) (1920), whose central character originally holds a bundle of harvested rice stalks, for example, now has Jeff Koons' tulip balloons in her arms in Tulip Maiden on Sunny Afternoon (2014).
In 2016, the late-19th-century Filipino painter Félix Resurrección Hidalgo was at the centre of Culibrina's work in the solo presentation Resurreción at Galerie Michael Janssen in Berlin. By combining Hidalgo's Impressionist paintings with contemporary icons such as Takashi Murakami's white rabbit and Yue Minjun's laughing figure in Murmur of Oblivious Devotion (2015), Culibrina raised questions about the word 'master', which has usually been reserved for European artists, and the continuing dominance of Western art and art history.
Another key theme in Culibrina's oeuvre concerns the effects of the human exploitation of nature, inspired by the industrialisation of his hometown of Morong in the Philippines. In his solo exhibition Above Sea Level at Yavuz Gallery, Singapore, in 2018, the artist depicted spectral-coloured skies and humans, perhaps alluding to pollution and the subsequent mutation of the environment. He continued to insert references to the symbolism of contemporary international art, such as Yayoi Kusama's tentacles emerging from the sea. Salva Vida, another solo exhibition at Blanc Gallery, Quezon City, in 2019, saw the artist incorporate fishnets into his paintings to further articulate the detrimental impact of industrial progress on nature. In Salva-Vida 1 (2019), a green hand reaches upward as if asking for help, a flip-flop slung around its wrist and a blue fishnet in the background; in Sakadora (2019), a masked figure leans on his boat, with flowers and a wooden cross placed before him.
Culibrina graduated from the Technological University of the Philippines in 2011. He has been a recipient of several prestigious awards, notably a Fernando Zóbel Prize for the Visual Arts in the Ateneo Art Awards in 2018. In 2014, Culibrina received the Special Citation in the Metrobank Art & Design Excellence awards and was named one of Forbes' '30 Under 30 Asia' in the arts in 2016.
Ocula | 2019
Singapore Art Week returns from 11 to 19 January 2020 with a host of island-wide events, at the centre of which is the second edition of S.E.A. Focus (16–19 January 2020) at Gillman Barracks, showcasing the best of contemporary art in Southeast Asia.