Roberto Feleo

The Altar of the Dark Side of Spain

1954- Philippines

In the Philippines, deeply influenced by foreign cultures given its occupation by Spain and other nations, there is a strong movement asking what Filipino culture is, and a desire amongst Filipinos to recount their own history in their own way. In his works, Roberto Feleo borrows the imagery of the indigenous people of the Philippines who were called the Pintado, Spanish for painted people by early Spanish settlers because of their full body tattooing. Using these figures, Feleo recounts the history of his land through the tales of Pintado uprisings. This large, puzzling work uses the form of a Christian altar painting, a format familiar from the Spanish occupation of the Philippines, and shows how the white-skinned god holds the power of life and death over the non-white races. At the same time, the figures in the lowest register are a form of pre-human, and their progress up through the ranks of colored races and finally to the level of the white race can be seen as a parody of formal hierarchies. (UM)

Work description

Title The Altar of the Dark Side of Spain
Name of the Artist Roberto Feleo
Year 1985
Medium acrylic and sawdust on wood
Size 391.3×311.1 cm