Books & Art

Behind the Four Massive Paintings on the Roof Deck of Art Fair Philippines 2020

The artist talks about his preference for large-scale canvases and the common imagery you'll find in his pieces.

Rodel Tapaya teases that his paintings are commonly done on a large canvas because of his height. Jokes aside, the contemporary artist pours his deepest thoughts into his works, and there could be a substantial explanation to every minute detail that makes it to the final masterpiece.

For his Art Fair Philippines 2020 collaboration with Hublot, Tapaya admits that he’s been working on the four massive paintings that hung at a special glass enclosure on the roof deck of The Link carpark without actually knowing where his work would end up. Fortunately, they made their way to the country’s biggest art fair for thousands of spectators to admire.

Tapaya has no qualms with shifting from one piece to another and says he juggled these works at his studio for years. It was his college training and his earlier freelance projects that led his preference for large-scale paintings. Earlier in his career, he would fill preschool murals and ceilings with the vibrant images in his head. When it comes to art, Tapaya has a way of divulging fragments about his past through his work.

Photo by PAOLO CHUA.

The Montalban, Rizal native was six years old when he learned the story of Bernardo Carpio, a figure in Philippine mythology who was said to be trapped in the mountains of Tapaya’s hometown and was the cause of earthquakes. The tale excited a young Tapaya and folklore impressed itself upon him, so much that it became the central characters to the stories he would later tell. Creatures of fantasy and supernatural figures are sometimes representative of social and political commentary in Tapaya’s work. Each creature comes with intensive research.

More: At Art Fair 2020, Two Wall Installations Allow People to Add Their Ideas With Pencils, Markers, Crayon, Chalk, or Paint

Photo by PAOLO CHUA.

But what struck us most while viewing his work is that one differed in style from the rest—another large-scale painting that used a more somber palette. It was done on burlap instead of canvas and symbolized two precious nuggets of information from the artist. First, it was the same surface that Tapaya used in his earlier works. The second significance was that it was representative of the ordinary life of a Filipino, as burlap sacks are typically used to store common produce, such as potatoes and coffee beans.

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Photo by PAOLO CHUA.

According to the artist, the imagery may depict a scene from a fair or a carnival, but he says this one is more open to interpretation than the rest, and wasn’t founded on heavy symbolism. “Basta enjoy lang nila yung gestures ng handstrokes at paints,” he says, “Ganun lang siya.”

Tapaya’s presentation at Art Fair is something that must been seen in the flesh.

Photo by PAOLO CHUA.

And perhaps unintentionally, Tapaya provides us with his own advice for going about the Art Fair—spectators and fair goers won’t always need and artist’s interpretation, and merely need to stand back, marvel at the talents in front of them, and see things in their own eyes.

Visit February 21 through 23 at The Link carpark in Makati to catch all the new components. Tickets are for sale via and the onsite at the reception area.

More: The P90,000 Kaning Tutong Wins Art Fair Philippines 2020

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Hannah Lazatin
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