No hero is as omnipresent in Philippine daily life as our National Hero, Jose Rizal—from his works being integrated as part of the national curriculum, countless streets named JP Rizal, and a national holiday to commemorate his death.
Carlo S. Tanseco second show Alias Elias delves on the life of Jose Rizal. Tanseco showcases different facets of Rizal as a hero, lover, doctor, cult figure, and icon as well as his history and mythology translated into hyper-realistic works of art. The exhibit was launched last December 2 at the J Studio and will run until December 30, Rizal Day.
Limited copies of the special edition of National Artist Nick Joaquin’s biography Rizal in Saga: A Life For Student Fans will be sold, with Tanseco’s Rizal painting “Solo Humano” as cover art. Initially commissioned during Rizal’s death centenary in 1996, Joaquin’s book has been reissued by Milflores Publishing with an introduction and annotation by historian Ambeth R. Ocampo. Tanseco’s fine art prints of “Solo Humano” will also be sold at the show.
The exhibit is divided into Stamps, Matchboxes, and the Eye Chart Series. Tanseco portrays Rizal on and alongside seemingly mundane items—stamps, vintage matchboxes, coins, Leonor Rivera’s locket, and the hero’s pen. Upon closer inspection, each object reveals a different aspect of Rizal, and by viewing the paintings as a whole, the artist urges us to reexamine all the facts and myths that surround Rizal and relate these to our own life experiences.
125 years after his death, Rizal remains relevant to this day. Tanseco enthuses that his paintings can be interpreted based on how one knows Rizal and how Rizal relates to them. “Try to think: Is Rizal a hero to you? Do you idolize him as a cultural icon? Or do you idolize what he stands for?” Only the viewer would know for sure.
View ALIAS ELIAS at J Studio, La Fuerza, Gate 1 Compound, Makati City. Visit them by appointment: Tues-Sat., 12nn-7pm, message them on Instagram. Follow Carlo Tanseco on Instagram. ALIAS ELIAS ends on December 30, Rizal Day.