Curatorial Statement: Reliquaries (SM Megamall Art Gallery)

Glad to have been given the chance to collaborate with Reredos* by writing the art exhibit statement for their art show entitled “Reliquaries”. The statement is written below:


History and geography are witnesses to the myriad funerary beliefs and practices that have arisen. The Egyptians take pride in their pyramids. The Chinese have their tombs equipped with objects deemed necessary to bring in the next life. The Romans boast of their sarcophagi with inscriptions pertaining to the deeds of the dead. The Mesopotamian royal tombs house not only the king but also include his guards and ladies of the court who are to be his companions in the afterlife. Given this variegated society at large there comes a universal chord which embraces all cultures and societies.

Temporal life displays giving of honor to the living as manifest in manifold awards, honors and prestige it bestows. However, after some years, if not decades, of existence in the world comes the inevitable reality. Each one has that day when sister death knocks upon his/her door. There may be a wide range of reactions towards this departure – fear, restlessness, optimism, hope – and yet something common remains. The same respect for the living is extended to the dead, if not greater. Tombs, pyramids, coffins, urns and reliquaries prove the veneration people have for the dead, and in turn, point out to the belief that the departed continue on living. Death signifies not the end; it is only the beginning.

The belief in the afterlife shows forth the reality that in a human being there is not only his physical body, but, there is a soul that animates his being. The separation of the soul from the body marks the physical death; nevertheless, the soul continues to linger on. With the belief in life beyond comes consequently the regard put in how earthly life is lived. Undeniably there is always tension and friction in life, a struggle that is persistently waged. The attraction to the good and happiness and the joys and triumphs are invariably present, but common experience tells that there is a constant battle against disorders found in deception, idleness, stagnancy, reclusion and lack of purpose. The kind of earthly life stamps itself in the soul that continues to live on.

In sum, whoever man there is, the place to go to after the end of life is one and the same. This is depicted in “All Go to One Place” and “Limbo’s Cradle”. The remembrance of the dead is displayed in “Bouquet” and “Sacred Hurt”. Man’s care for how he lives his life – a purposeful life – shines through in “Towards a Purpose”, “Hindrance and Obstacles”, “Lady Lazarus”, “Vacant Lot”, “Holy Eucharist Parish Church, Armstrong Avenue, Moonwalk Village, Paranaque City, Metro Manila”, and “Villa Sto. Nino”.

Reliquaries takes this perspective that life and death, and death and Life are realities that are not mutually exclusive.

Lady Lazarus by Marionne Contreras
Towards a Purpose by Jood Clarino
(Untitled) by Vincent Balandra (left); Vacant Lot by Paolo Icasas (right)
Limbo’s Cradle by Dennis Atienza (left); All Go to One Place by Rex Aguilar (right)
Villa Sto. Niño by Rai Cruz
By Robert Besana
By Mike Muñoz
Hindrance and Obstacles by Jood Clarino

The exhibit was launched on 18 November 2016 at Galerie Anna (4F SM Megamall).

*Reredos is an artist collective that depicts realities with a philosophical-theological bent in various art media.

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