The many faces of our National Hero are presented and explored in this December show.
Carlo S. Tanseco opens his second solo show ALIAS ELIAS on December 2, 2021 at J Studio in Makati City. Tanseco’s first exhibit “Juxtaposed: Between Order and Complexity” at Art Fair 2021 portrayed figures from the art world and mythology in opposing situations and settings. This time, ALIAS ELIAS focuses solely on our National Hero, Jose Rizal. The show will run until December 30, Rizal Day.
At this exhibit, limited copies of the special edition of National Artist Nick Joaquin’s biography Rizal in Saga: A Life For Student Fans will be sold, with Tanseco’s Rizal painting “Solo Humano” as cover art. Initially commissioned during Rizal’s death centenary in 1996, Joaquin’s book has been reissued by Milflores Publishing with an introduction and annotation by historian Ambeth R. Ocampo. Tanseco’s fine art prints of “Solo Humano” will also be sold at the show.
In ALIAS ELIAS, Tanseco delves into the many facets of Rizal as hero, lover, doctor, cult figure, and icon. He digs up both the history and mythology, and presents these on canvas for the public to interpret based on their beliefs and views. The exhibit, which is composed of several hyper-realistic works of acrylic on canvas, is divided into three sub-series: the Stamps, the Matchboxes, and a Fencing Pair of the Eye Chart Series.
First in the sub-series are the Stamp paintings, with each one featuring a portrait of Rizal juxtaposed with popular Rizalian themes. These include the moth parable from his childhood, his pen, the locket of Leonor Rivera, a 1972 one-peso coin—all of which can be interpreted as part of the story of Rizal or as metaphors of socio-political issues.
Tanseco’s smaller Stamp paintings focus on the mystical side of Rizal and his association with the Rizalistas, the folk-spiritual religious group who believe that Rizal is God. In these paintings, anting-anting (magical amulets) are placed on top of the Rizal stamps, and allude to Filipino Catholicism and its mix of animism, folklore, and Christianity—all three existing side-by-side.
The third sub-series are the Matchbox paintings, which signify the need to fan the flames of change, and the incendiary text—in florid Tagalog prose—are written beneath Rizal’s portrait: Panatilihing ang siklab ng pag-asa. Maging mitsa ng pagbabago. Paigtingin ang alab ng puso.
ALIAS ELIAS shows how Rizal, even almost 125 years after his death, remains relevant to us. The narrative of the hero’s life is like a link to our past and a connection to our present. He still has the power to make us question our situation, and think of what we can do for our nation.
ALIAS ELIAS by Carlo S. Tanseco will run from December 2 to 30, 2021 at J Studio, La Fuerza, Gate 1 Compound, Makati City. You may visit them by appointment: Tuesday to Saturday, 12nn – 7pm. Follow them on Instagram @artjstudio. Follow Carlo S. Tanseco on Instagram @carlotanseco_art.