Galerie Nathalie Obadia is delighted to showcase a selection of artworks by Manuel Ocampo. Born in 1965 in the Philippines, this major artist of the Asia-Pacific region is one of the most influential on the international contemporary art scene today. He will represent the Philippines at the 57th Venice Biennale.
Manuel Ocampo’s painting intertwines a wide range of signs and codes drawn from his very acute sense of observation. By combining references to colonial iconography, Judeo-Christian tradition, folk art, Spanish Catholicism, Manila’s underground culture, cartoon, comics, graffiti art, naïve art, Mexican ex-voto, science fiction and neo-Dadaism, the artist generates subversive and decadent images that revisit the history of art in an explicit and provocative way.
Since the 1980s, the Filipino artist has been developing a singular plastic vocabulary characterized by an insolent and refreshing tone. With hints of cynicism and burlesque, his motifs are all together biting, disturbing and crude: rats, insects, birds, bones, skulls, human teeth, eyes, chopped off heads, phallic shapes, fetuses, feces, cemeteries, religious figures, crosses, crucifixes, tools, syringes, scribbling, flames, and cartoon characters get tangled in one single composition. Because of the profusion of signs and colors, his oil paintings express something of an underlying rudeness, which recalls the provocative work of Paul McCarthy (b. 1945) as well as the intensity of Francis Bacon(1909-1992).
Manuel Ocampo’s extreme art is that of a fertile image-maker who likes to throw things in the face of the world. Thanks to his sharp and generous style, his works collide and fragment. They release an anarchic energy, break down taboos and challenge our good conscience. Satire is everywhere in his practice and all symbols of power, whether political or religious, are ironically distorted, reverted, or subjected to parody.
Through his disobedient, bold and exhilarating attitude as well as odd universe, Manuel Ocampo advocates chaos and questions our shaking, confused and unsteady world. His implacable lucidity grabs us while challenging our attachment to ideological, political and human values. The artist confronts us with complex and lively compositions sometimes reminiscent of surrealism, and invites us into both a dark and unsettling contemplation. Through the means of iconoclastic conceptualism, he explores the possibilities of an apolitical art deprived of all religious connotations.