Lot 207
  • 207

Rodel Tapaya

120,000 - 180,000 HKD
175,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Rodel Tapaya
  • The Tree of Make Believe
  • Signed and dated 2012
  • Acrylic on canvas
  • 120.5 by 182 cm; 47 1/2  by 71 1/2  in.


Private Collection, Japan

Catalogue Note

Rodel Tapaya is a Filipino artist whose work is both an academic and personal exercise, grappling with postcolonial visual history and memory to create surrealistic dreamscapes. His paintings incorporate folk motifs, precolonial mythology and observations of contemporary sociopolitical occurrences into a biting revelation about the state of society today.

Tapaya’s works are condensations in space and time, creating elaborate visual narratives that contrast various motifs and images on a single canvas. He disturbs our notions of figure-ground relationships by allowing each image to exist in its own right: an outline of a woman floats atop a purple flower, while a wall in the background is obliquely distorted into cubist-inspired forms. These worlds are present in an unreality, a transgressive space in which the fantastical and the banal coexist in oscillations between two and three dimensions.

His colour palettes are bold and unashamed: this work in particular uses dark colors such as obsidian and dark purple as a contrast to the vibrant greens, reds and oranges. This world is not friendly, but rather an exaggerated expression of our psychological and emotional tendencies, both in our capacity to create darkness and fright, and our capacity to dream in optimism.

As viewers, we are not allowed to control these worlds. Rather, the monumental scales of Tapaya’s paintings invite us to think of ourselves as guests, playing but a small part in a larger tale. His works disorient us by shocking us out of the everyday, to return to us a blurring between man, nature and the realm of the fantastic. This tendency is reminiscent of Bakhtian's formulation of the Carnival and Carnivalesque, which collapses the boundary between participant and performer, existing in a world in which all rules, inhibitions and restrictions are lifted in a meeting of temporal and spatial freedom, creating a “world standing upside down.”[1]

[1] Bakhtin, M., 1997. 25. Carnival and the Carnivalesque. Cultural theory and popular culture: A reader, p.250.