The Cultural Center of the Philippines


Exhibit duration: 25 January to 4 March 2018
Bulwagang Fernando Amorsolo (Small Gallery), Pasilyo Victorio Edades (4F Hallway Gallery), and 4th floor Atirum
Opening reception: 25 January, Thursday, 6pm



Spanning approximately three decades of artistic practice creating performances, paintings and installations, Rene Aquitania’s largely undocumented body of work transforms the mundane into inventive ritualistic critiques of pressing political and social realities. Working within the tradition of “artist as the art,” his work, particularly in performance, captures the power in the “tweak”: a minor gesture or movement, repeated or even elaborately designed, can easily reconstruct a changed and “whole” reality.


Often misunderstood and sometimes coming into clarity only in afterthought, Aquitania’s performances are spiritual undertakings. Much of his practice emerges from a life of observing mountain healers and ritual masters in the Cordillera or from his being raised by a mother who herself was a practicing healer.


Aquitania constantly excavates the eco-spiritual dimensions of human life and practice that lie dormant or unrecognized within the everyday life of modernity: revealing frictions and challenging homogeneity. Though in radically different social and cultural-geographic contexts, Aquitania’s work echoes that of the Italian artist Michaelangelo Pistoletto’s ‘Arte Povera’ movement in the 1960s in which “art” and “everyday” were synthesized. One of Pistoletto’s famous works was his performance piece “Walking Sculpture,” in which he walked the streets of the spaces around him with a giant ball of newspaper. Aquitania once patched sections of the streets of Session Road in Baguio with newspapers held down by stones at the corners. The artists share a vocabulary of recontextualized ‘ordinariness’, embedded public practice, and challenge to both artistic and mundane behavioral norms.


Aquitania’s works are often presented with a seeming spontaneity, often unannounced to the moment, but that spontaneity is belied by a thoroughness of procedure and depth of process that the artist cloaks from his immediate audiences. They are works that emerge from the labor of a life but then negotiate their own calendar in their expression, waiting for the right moment or context.


Aquitania is constantly scrutinizing and seeking out the flaws and tensions in the spiritual ecology of the world he finds himself in. He dives at any possible chance to create spaces of thought and practice which prompt dynamic interactions between artist and audience, artist and space, and crucially, between audience and space. He tweaks, and such a space is created around that intervention.


Walking Still attempts to reconstruct a body of work in multi-media installations, paintings, and performance to present an introspective retrospective of who Rene Aquitania is: artist as art, as culture-bearer, and as mythic man. ROCKY CAJIGAN