Salcedo Stories

Art Under Cover: Contemporary Art in the Era of Masks

Art Under Cover: Contemporary Art in the Era of Masks

  • 22 November 2020

Art is not static. Once a work of art is completed, it takes on a life of its own, interacting and engaging with the people who see it.

In a way, you could say that art is always contemporary because it constantly presents a reflection of humanity in the here and now, regardless of when or where the artwork was created.

Such is the case with these paintings by contemporary artists Ronald Ventura, Rodel Tapaya, and Andres Barrioquinto, who created these paintings no more than two years ago! They’re perfect examples of how contemporary art– at its core– presents thought-provoking ideas that feature complex truths about society today.

Now, they’re all the more relevant in 2020, otherwise known as the Era of Masks. You can even categorize the multilayered facets of the Era of Masks into the the figurative, the symbolic, and the transcendental, as we have below:

The Figurative

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RONALD VENTURA, New Normal, 2019, Oil on canvas

Interestingly, this painting features a masked girl and is titled, New Normal. Had we talked about this painting in 2019 instead of this year, it would have been a completely different story. In New Normal, internationally acclaimed artist Ronald Ventura depicts a scene that is now all too familiar. The wearing of masks has quite literally become an essential part of daily life – so much so that one may feel naked and exposed without it.

This bold and highly detailed art piece is by no means prophetic. However, the coincidental overlap of themes proves the almost inherent timelessness of contemporary art. Who knows? Several years from now, when all this is over, we may find ourselves assigning new meanings to the artwork!

The Symbolic

RODEL TAPAYA Mr. Wolf, 2019, Acrylic on burlap

The character of the wolf, even in literature, is cunning and mysterious. That same mischievous aura is brought to life in Rodel Tapaya’s colorful 2019 painting, aptly titled, Mr. Wolf.

Like the wolf in the painting, many of us now wear different masks as we navigate through the demands of our online lives. Pre-pandemic, we already lived in a digital age where technology was rapidly evolving.

Now, in the Era of Masks, many of us rely on online platforms as our sole means of communication. This blurs the lines between work, school, family, and friends– prompting us to filter ourselves accordingly since most of our daily lives now revolve around a screen. As such, this necessary masking of our personas has added an unintentional layer of mystique to our everyday interactions.

The Transcendental

ANDRES BARRIOQUINTO, Untitled, 2018, Oil on canvas

Andres Barrioquinto captures the familiar and creates an unapologetically striking work of art in the process. With its many layers, this piece seems masked in complexity– even as the piercing eyes of the cat-like figure draw you in.

A closer look at the ukiyo-e characters incorporated into Barrioquinto’s Untitled

Upon closer inspection, one will quickly realize that there are many faces in this work of art. Barrioquinto takes inspiration from traditional Japanese ukiyo-e prints and incorporates those same characters into his artwork– adding another dimension to the piece. Like all contemporary art, there is undoubtedly no one way to interpret this piece, because at the end of the day, contemporary art is as personal as it is universal in its relevance.

Let these artworks act as conversation starters. How would you interpret these contemporary paintings?

They are all part of the ‘Important Philippine Art’ sale of ‘The Well-Appointed Life’ our much-awaited auction weekend happening this 26-27 September. Click here to view the entire catalogue.

In this time of social distancing, we’ve made all of the lots on offer available via our virtual 3D gallery. Here you can easily navigate your way through our galleries to view all the pieces going to auction!