Art Portal Davao will feature Leonilo “Neil” Doloricon in an exhibition entitled Dispossessed. The works are mostly limited edition prints that are visually compelling and thought provoking at the same time. 1988, art critic and University of the Philippines Professor Emeritus Alice Guillermo writes how a group of artists chose the working class as the subject of their works. In the 1970s, this was radical and extraordinary: artists whose weapons would only be their ink, brush, and palette knife are joining the struggle against oppression. Together with Pablo Bean Santos, Orlando Castillo, Papo de Asis, Antipas Delotavo, Edgar Fernandez, Renato Habulan, Al Manrique, and Jose Tence Ruiz, Neil Doloricon articulated his observations about society. Its ills and excesses have been the subject of his works. At that time, these group of politically aware artists became hailed as the Social Realists. Artists who identify themselves with social realism approach art-making as social interventions. Instead of being passive observers of the world around them, they take on the role of critics who offer their take on social inequalities that they see. At a time when voices of freedom were silenced, artists created visual instances of protest. This practice continued to the present. Social realists like Neil Doloricon continue to produce works that are charged with social commentary. Social realism will always be current: it is an unending process of questioning, for the dynamics of oppression have been reconfigured in a seemingly free and liberal society. Thus, when confronted by the art work, one cannot help but observe the weary lines of sufferance imprinted on paper or canvas, as seen in the hungry faces of those whom the art movement seeks to serve. Social realists are also known to be very active in cultural work. They often take on the role not only of artists but facilitators and cultural advocates who seek to introduce ripples of change in a given community.
The range of themes includes tenants and the absence of land tenure, construction workers toiling away vis a vis contractual labor, workers in picket lines, and militarization in rural areas. Other themes include ancestral domains and how external forces encroach upon them. Workers conscripted in the global economy are also presented as a biting social critique on ideas of progress and modernity. The overworked laborer whose meager wages are barely enough for sustenance have become part of Doloricon’s body of works. The idea of toil is made more complex when at the heart of it is the erasure of human dignity. Sufferance is even made more legible when the subject involves displaced families. These recurring images throughout Doloricon’s prolific career shall be seen in his solo exhibition, Dispossessed. Leonilo Doloricon is the first guest artist of Art Portal, Davao. It is a new art space that will bring leading contemporary artists who wish to share their talents and at the same time immerse in the place.
The exhibition opens on July 24. The public is invited to meet the artist. Art Portal is located at the 2nd floor of BGP Complex II, McArthur Highway, Matina Davao City. For details, contact 0915-1806948. Dispossessed runs until August 14, 2015.
About the Artist
Leonilo “Neil” Ortega Doloricon counts among Filipino contemporary artists who continue to take on the role of social critic and advocate for the underserved. Born in 1957 in the quiet town of Surigao del Sur, his exposure to the social realities during his formative years will create a life-long impact in his art practice.
He eventually earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communication during turbulent political times; his alma mater, the University of the Philippines Diliman, was at the helm of youth protests against the dictatorship. He would later on earn a Master of Arts degree in Philippine Studies from the same university and would teach at the College of Fine Arts. Across decades, he has received distinction as a recipient of the following: the 1999 Jose and Asuncion Joya Professorial Chair; the 2004 Guillermo Tolentino Professorial Chair; and the Fernando Amorolo Professorial Chair both in 1994 and in 2011.
Doloricon has exhibited at the Philippine Center in New York City and the Centro Cultura de la Raza in San Diego, California. Aside from numerous group and solo exhibitions in art galleries, he has also exhibited at the Vargas Museum and Ayala Museum.
Doloricon was a recipient of the Thirteen Artists Award in 1990. He has represented the country in exhibitions in Malaysia and Tokyo. The artist is well cited in publications of art critics and art historians in the Philippine arts scene. Being one of the leading Social Realists of his time, Doloricon’s works continue to speak against the prevailing class contradiction in his country.
Neil Doloricon Exhibits in Art Portal Davao
In the exhibition Dispossessed, Leonilo Doloricon’s prints articulate the plight of the underserved. They are the contractual laborers who continue to fight for security of tenure. They are the workers conscripted in global economies that produce unequal social relations. They are deployed in world markets like fighters sent to die in the battle front. They are unnamed faces seen in the streets, toiling long hours in exchange for wages that never seem to cover the rising cost of living in the city. They are the marginalized communities who have lost mountains and waters that have long sustained their ancestors. They are the tenants who farm lands that they will never own; they continue to lose their lives in the course of their decades-long struggle for land reform. All in the name of nation, modernity, and progress. The exhibition seems to pose the question – is there hope for the dispossessed? The exhibition interrogates how leaders sworn to protect are the first to oppress, as free markets continue to bring tyranny. How can the underserved survive their hand to mouth existence, when the prevailing spoils system continues to rob them of their basic human dignity? As visual instances of alterity are articulated by Doloricon in the exhibition, their affective potential will hopefully inspire possibilities for transformation and emancipation. Leonilo Doloricon is the first guest artist of Art Portal, Davao. The exhibition opens on July 24. The public is invited to meet the artist. Art Portal is located at the 2nd floor of BGP Complex II, McArthur Highway, Matina Davao City. For details, contact 0915-1806948. Dispossessed runs until August 14, 2015.