I have Alfredo Esquillo Jr. to blame for my art addiction. In 2003, I stumbled upon his work while viewing The American Effect, an exhibit at the Whitney Museum in New York. That piece, Mamakinley , depicting a bonneted and beribboned William Mckinley cradling a little brown Filipino baby in his claws, stayed rooted in my mind, so
arresting and powerful it was. Up til then, my exposure to Philippine art had been that of the so-called masters, the artists of my parents generation. I did not realize that the art of my own time could be just as compelling.
Five years after that personal epiphany, Esqui’s works can still make me stop and think. The ideas he has explored in his 15 years as an artist just never seem to lose their impact. Whether he delves into the man on the street’s religious rituals, or manipulates old sepia photographs to comment on Philippine history, or uses himself to theatrical effect, you know you have seen images that will keep playing in your head. And like a true addict, you just gotta get your fix.
Reclamation Project is on view from 7 to 28 November 2008 at Tin-Aw Art Gallery, Somerset Olympia, Makati Ave. www.tin-aw.com