A History of Struggle: Philippine Art Remembers 1521

The exhibition A History of Struggle: Philippine Art Remembers 1521 responds to the contexts surrounding the commemoration of the 500 years of the first circumnavigation of the world through the works of Philippine contemporary artists. It threads through simultaneously local and global events such as Ferdinand Magellan’s voyage, the triumph of Lapu-Lapu, and the first Catholic Mass in Asia. Recalling these historical moments serves as an opportunity for the artists to interpret the implications of a fraught history in the pandemic present and the contemporary reflections evoked by it.
Exploring social criticism, allegory, counter-history, alternative mythology, and other visual strategies, the artists for the exhibition offer diverse responses in the registers of a revisit and a projection. A History of Struggle prompts them to risk imagery and technique while remaining rooted in the artistic resources that have made them strongly placed to speculate creatively on this arduous history of struggle.

The sensibilities and sources of the artists included in this exhibition vary and embody a wide range of commitments. A History of Struggle enlivens this diversity to cast postcolonial Philippine history more decisively and translate this history to insightful artistic form.

For more details about the exhibition, click on this LINK.

ink, acrylic, colored pencil, graphite,

spray paint, watercolor on paper,
50.5 x 98.5 in.

“Five hundred years from now and five hundred parallel earths from ours, a mighty empire’s armada broke the peace that reigned in this pocket of the multiverse. Circumnavigating space-time in a crusade to purge all other faiths, the invaders sought to conquer this pearl of a hidden world. But this pearl had defenders of its own. Its shamans summoned supernatural forces and the celestial god-being, LL-3000, to confront the onslaught. Thus begins the battle between the legions of technology and the forces of magic – in a cataclysmic reckoning that will flood the stars with the fires of war.”

Other Works

Diptych 2021

This diptych represents two deconstructed ships made for travel, or for battle. Depending on how they are installed side by side – they could be leaving from a certain point or made to collide with each other. Either way, they’re moving, in flux, signifying travel — destination unknown. Much like what the world is undergoing right now, we simply have to “LEAVE IT TO THE GODS“. We have a saying here, “Bahala Na Si Batman” – Bahala from the word, ‘Bathala’ – a supreme deity who created the universe from Filipino myths. Do we leave our fate to Batman? or to the Bats? Didn’t the virus come from Bats??! Nonetheless, we travel onward. Amidst technology, robot hands, and whatnot – let the universe bring us to wherever it wants.

A WILDLIFE PERSPECTIVE” is a return to ourselves, to our past, our ancestors, and our animal instincts. This may be a tumultuous time, but it is also a grand opportunity to reflect. A deeper reckoning with our being as we dispose of mental sludge akin to a battleship dumping toxic waste and unnecessary weight into the void for ease of travel. Do you feel lighter?

These are merely my initial thoughts when I was working on these pieces. More often than not, I was simply “in the zone” and let whatever imagery, feeling, and vibe come out from my brain, into my hands, and onto the surface. I treat my pieces like an open book, a giant sketchpad on the wall and I simply work on it as time goes by. Certainly, the signs of the times have a great effect and influence on the pieces. I’ve always considered artworks as “archeological relics” – signifying the nature of what was happening during their creation – artists merely conduits between the natural and the supernatural.


Various Works 2021

Art Inspires 3

Click on this VIDEO LINK.

28 August 2021, Zoom and Facebook Live.
Featuring ‘Invasion of Ona’ and the works of Ernest Concepcion.

The artist’s highly illustrative body of works draws from the visual narratives of comics, sci-fi, and fantasy genres, as well as the broader speculative worlds of geek culture, which often spotlight conflicting forces in intense, heightened conditions, and our personal and existential relationship with the unknown. Geek-culture media and art forms, which spiked alongside the development of technology, continue to expand in our increasingly digital world, yet they remain overlooked in discourses about contemporary art. How do these works interrogate our responses to and attitudes towards an uncertain, discord-ridden world?

with Ernest Concepcion, artist
Prof. Daki Fernando, UP College of Fine Arts
Mr. Carl Javier, CEO of PumaPodcast and Lecturer at the Ateneo Fine Arts Department

The Art Inspires series, launched March 2021, is the Metropolitan Museum of Manila’s series of dialogues with artists, curators, scholars, and writers with a focus on the artistic process and experience in reference to an artist’s work or body of works featured in ongoing exhibition and education programs of the museum. Join in on engaging conversations on art in an evolving environment!