Marker by Melvin Culaba




The Cultural Center of the Philippines with support from Art Cube Gallery 


Opening reception : 2 July, Thursday, 6pm
Artist Talk: 15 July, Wednesday, 2pm, MKP Hall
Exhibit duration: 2 July to 16 August 2015
Pasilyo Vicente Manansala (2F Hallway Gallery)



Melvin Culaba’s paintings in the exhibition Marker are dispatches from the center of the maelstrom—a reportage that transfigures what we encounter in the news into permanent reminders of the political and social forces that set borders, demarcate places and desecrate landmarks. In a sense, Culaba shares his power of illustration with that of an editorial cartoonist by his combinations of imagery and commentary focused on contemporary issues. However, his works, while reportorial, are not entirely journalistic, for his forms act as symbols and metaphors that become visual allegories of seemingly permanent scenarios that will continue to go on unless something about the status quo and the distribution of power is disrupted.


Culaba is able to convey the immediacy of his themes through long sinewy strokes, which sculpt perspective, throw light and shadow on surfaces and register the muscular energy that imbues his works. While other artists conceal brushstrokes through small and flat repetitive gestures in coming up with photo-realistic works, Culaba is not afraid to reveal the labor and the aspiration of the hand in its engaged and fierce declarations of the human condition, especially of the poor and the dispossessed who continue to be the artist’s abiding subjects. When we look at his works, what we see is less an imagined world than a magnified reality, bristling with signifiers of destitution and doom, but not without dignity and the capacious hope that it can be altered and marked with our deliberate and active passage.


(Carlomar Arcangel Daoana)