Nune Alvarado’s “Tapangko” at Galerie Anna:
THE TABLES ARE TURNED
“Tapangko” is the table used in the Negros Occidental marketplaces where staples of food items are placed on display and sale. As such, it becomes the hub of all trade transactions, where vendors and sellers interact, and thus, thus exposing all manner of human behavior. The keen and observant eyes of Alvarado transform all these scenes stored in his memory into artworks of deep social perception and analysis.
A painting graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman, the multi-awarded Alvarado has been an icon in the art scene since the Seventies. He made his mark with his originally stylized and powerful depictions of the seasonal sugar cane workers known as sacadas, who work the fields under the scorching sun, and under oppressive terms and conditions. Immersing himself in the lives of his own people allowed the artist to understand and sympathize with their plight.
Alvarado’s “Tapangko” series presents a lighter side of his sensibility, now focused on the humorous foibles of human nature. This is instantly signaled by the delightful and witty titles he has ascribed to these works. The human images are explicit enough, though they have been largely subsumed by Alvarado’s energetic activity of ornamental designs characterized by repetition of patterns and invention of geometric elaborations. Working with a precision that takes command of the pen-and-ink medium, Alvarado is challenged by the task of organizing the welter of details in an audaciously decorative, but appealing, presentation. His skill at orchestrating the multitude of these richly excessive diagrams is spell-binding.
To be sure, it is a relief for the viewer to see that, once in a while, Nune Alvarado does come up for air, taking relief from the seething aggression and dark shadows that dominate his iconic works. What is on display – on the “Tapangko” of these works – is Alvarado taking pleasure in capturing the lighter side of the Negros landscape, inviting us to the lively marketplace of his ever restless imagination.
- CID REYES