Demetrio Dela Cruz
July 16, 2022 - August 06, 2022
In Hanging On, his fresh iteration of appropriating the works of National Artists, Demetrio Dela Cruz pushes the envelope further. Rather than representing the iconic paintings magisterially spread out across a frame, the artist allows us to perceive them in their unstretched glory, draped onto an edge, folded and pleated at places. In some works, streaks of paint run across them, as if someone, possibly in a fit of envy, has desecrated them, as is usually the case with some of the most iconic paintings that, at some point in their history, suffered from the hands of vandals.
The appropriated paintings are, however, still recognizable, except that, as the title states, they are hanging on to dear life, their original pristine quality gone, the fragile nature of the canvases exposed. The credibility of these works hinges upon the masterful execution of Dela Cruz, one of the best realist painters working today. His notable trompe l’oeil style does not only replicate the unique colors and figurations of the works of the National Artists (which, in itself, is already a feat) but how they would look like distressed.
Dela Cruz’s manner of appropriation is three-fold. First, he needed to print a digital version of the work, which in itself was already a copy. Once printed, the artist would intervene into the material (crumpling it at places as he saw fit) before finally setting the resulting image into the shaped canvas by oil pigment. Such a meticulous process underscores how the objective of Dela Cruz is not parody, but praise. Part of his objective is to reveal the fragility of both life and art and, hence, the need for vigilance in protecting what we deem as valuable.
The folded or rolled up canvases that constitute the tabletop sculptures continue the narrative of the hanging works into the three-dimensional world. They further reduce the aura we associate with masterpieces. Not too different from a discarded newspaper or a tarpaulin of a politician from a recently concluded election, they bear only their residual old glory. Whatever world they contain is forever inaccessible to the viewer, locked and sealed by paltry strings.
Hanging On is a powerful reminder that almost all of art is material, a fact that gets lost when we start delving into the subject matter, meaning, and history of a work. Paintings are, first and foremost, physical objects that occupy space. They are not safe from the ruining effects of time. By showing the audience the precarity of paintings, Dela Cruz hopes to amplify not only their importance in our national imagination and collective cultural life but also their embodied materiality that has made them possible in the first place.
-Carlomar Arcangel Daoana
Demetrio Dela Cruz
Demetrio Dela Cruz, also known as “Demet” is a Filipino contemporary artist who has a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts - Major in Advertising at Far Eastern University, Manila.
He worked as a visualizer, graphic designer, and photographer in an advertising firm before pursuing a full-time career as a contemporary artist. His years of experience in the Commercial Industry are very much evident in his constantly evolving style, in terms of themes and subject as well as technique and figuration.
For Demet's upcoming exhibit, titled: Hanging On. He mentioned it is both literal and metaphorical in a sense. Literal for its images are visual forms of hanging paintings and sculptures of Filipino national artists, from Amorsolo’s famous works to Guillermo Tolentino’s sculptures. Metaphorically, each piece of painting represents the vulnerability and fragility of life.