November 13 - December 04, 2021
Foibles of the Orient
Painting is considered as a medium of high seriousness, a way of asking difficult questions about oneself and the world. It is seldom do we encounter works that use humor as a vehicle of story- telling, exposing people’s pretensions, mischiefs, and vulnerabilities. In the country, only a handful of artists delve into such a territory. Tiffany Lafuente, in show after show, proves that she’s one of the most elegant and sharpest among them, chronicling the absurdities of life, particularly those present in institutions—religion, art world, polite society—on which we blindly invest our belief.
For her exhibition, Eastern Fables, Lafuente this time explores the comedy of manners in a microcosm of Chinese society, in which superstition dictates the rituals and habits of people and inanimate objects are perceived to be endowed with auspicious, magical powers. Here, her main characters typify the gullible, the eccentric, the easily scared, all caught up in their skirmishes with the supernatural world come alive. What if the “lucky cat” suddenly springs to life and the feng shui master is a two-headed madam ready to dispense advice?
The short answer: hilarity ensues. Grown men leap out of fright, a dog growls, even the figure in a portrait can’t hide his shock. This is the world, all swaddled up in fine Chinoiserie, that is about to unravel, if it has not yet come loose. Nothing makes sense, nor it needs to be: the works that Lafuente has created, smeared with her trademark scatological pigment, are all about making visible our superficial pursuits, our incessant and almost comical search for meaning and validation, our helplessness despite material wealth.
Lafuente’s way of approaching these themes is through the comic rigmarole that constitutes the narrative of her works. Her characters are caught up in a skit, responding to each other’s taunts and misdemeanors. Occasionally, they drift towards the surreal, and it’s hard not to think of them as representations of our hidden thoughts and desires, those we try hard to suppress, but would emerge as daytime fantasies or Freudian slips. Lafuente is not afraid to make them evident in paint.
Eastern Fables wonderfully adds to the artist’s body of work that pokes fun at our artificially built structures that both act as a safety net as well as a trap. In looking intensely into traditions and deeply held beliefs, Lafuente brings to light aspects of human experience and interaction that are largely shaped by social expectations and are not expressive of our deepest longings. These paintings ask us to shrug off our inhibitions and make full use of our freedoms, gifting us with a couple of laughs along the way.
-Carlomar Arcangel Daoana
Tiffany Lafuente is a fine arts major in Painting at the University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City. She has exhibited her works in different galleries in the Metro.
Tiffany has been known for her unconventional and provocative works with a casual plop of colors and lines. For the upcoming exhibit, she has put humor in telling the story of the Chinese belief with the twist of reality and real life experiences.