Meet Romulo Galicano: The Artist Society Lines Up For

    Romulo Galicano is at it again. Probably the most prestigious filipino portraitist today, his works are coveted by the rich and powerful, who line up for as long as three years to have themselves rendered in the most life-like, detailed, compelling and true-to-character “action portraits.”

    Galicano is a world champion in the genre, having won top awards including the grand prize at the International Portrait Competition of the Portrait Society of America.

    This year, Galicano unveiled a work that has been years in the making, and which the artist had been pondering for awhile. “Modern-Day Holocaust” is his rendition of the Maguindanao massacre—the politically-motivated slaughter that transpired in 2009 in the town of Ampatuan.

    The Modern Holocaust painting wd title(Final finished)

    The canvas is bisected to visually convey to the viewer the division caused by war. On the one hand, he has the faceless executioners—visages turned away or hiding behind masks of anonymity. Their weapons vary from the modern long- arm and the traditional muslim Kris to the heavy equipment in the background, alluding to the excavator allegedly used to bury the slain in the killing fields, where the remains were found. The executioners have neither race nor religion in common but only blinding a aggression that unite them.

    On the other side are the persecuted, the defiant and the fallen. They are led by “Inang Laya,” personification of the motherland. She has her hands outstretched in the crucifixion pose, another nod to the Christian iconography of Goya. Their faces are clear and defined as the victims of war are individuated and humanized.

    Galicano believes that art should immortalize defining moments of our history, both the good and the bad. It is in seeing what we have come to as a people, without pretence or artifice, in full and gory detail if need be, that we come face to face with our reality. Only then do we have a hope of learning from past mistakes and developing a memory as a people.

    The artist puts his great talent for realistic rendition to good use. The art scene is uplifted when this modern-day filipino master decides to emerge from his cocoon to deliver a work that addresses us all and leaves us moved, maybe even shamed, but certainly awakened by the power of art.

    This article is featured in the December/January 2018 issue of Lifestyle Asia. 

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.