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Art Underground Manila

They say the consciousness of our future depends on how well we live our present and remember our past. While the present is constantly moving and fleeting, the past is more structured and foundational. But more than just an idle ability of recalling history as trivial events, the past is a reflective remembering of our heroes and enemies, our triumphs and defeats, and our proudest moments and biggest regrets.
In Manila, a small walled city is the literal past living in a figurative present. Its grand and surviving architecture is a great testament to our most glorious history. Its rough and mostly holed walls are witnesses to our most challenging past. While the cries of battles won and wails of prisoners in their own homeland may no longer be heard behind its walls, their memories, though forgotten by most, remain visible scars left on the walls and as ruins.

For a few irregular days, artist Arce visited the once political and military seat of power in Manila. During each visit, for long hours, he studied and recorded the textures of the walls and pavements, the shapes of the pillars and light posts, the intricacies of the religious statues’ dresses and robes, and the outburst of
greens and lichens that have hidden some of its scars.

For six arduous months, Arce reflected on the ruins of Intramuros and drew countless imageries that might capture and represent his immersions in our great and atrocious past. As the core object and anchor of his narrative, he places antiquated and intricate mirror frames, individually and laboriously crafted by hand, at the center of each canvas—broken or whole—to visually represent our past. He layers each frame with deconstructed and folded canvases to create moving elements, like people who walk on the walled city’s famous cobblestones. Using thick, textured paints in muted contemporary palettes, he creates silhouettes and imageries that reminisce the glories that were built and protected by the walls and the dark past that ruined each, from human fingerprints to religious symbolisms. His labyrinthine painting, when seen from afar, is almost a remembrance map of a past almost forgotten as well as an open invitation to help creatively understand how our past shaped us and how it can build us, instead of hurt and divide us.

Known for his deeply profound and most personal one-word show titles, Arce hopes to visually magnify the gravity of history and the preeminence of faith in the social and moral fabrics of our young, evolving the nation through an ambitious exhibition beautifully entitled, “ROPED: The Reflections of Our Past, The Enlightenment of Our Destiny”.

Curation and Letters by
Prim Paypon, THE ANNEXT

October 13, 2022
October 10, 2022



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