In Alice Guillermo’s seminal “Social Realism in the Philippines”, she defined social realist art as ‘rooted as it is in a commitment to social ideals within a dynamic conception of history, social realism in the visual arts grew out of the politicized Filipino consciousness.’ In gist, it is socially involved art that presents socio-political realities in an effort to engage society and effect change. Most of the work from that period consciously used imagery drawn from reality as it was targeted to engaging the masses in order to provoke class action towards a more egalitarian society.
The works of Janos Delacruz and Eric Roca are also conscious of social realities and are equally purposeful in their creation. They speak of power struggles and excesses, much like their artistic forebears. However, unlike previous social realist works that imagined the “social” in a broad societal scale, the works of Delacruz and Roca imagine the conflict within the realm of the personal, recognizing that the personal is political.
Both are highly expressionistic, and their modality is surreal; which seems appropriate as we attempt to grasp the increasingly bizarre world we are in – where the very nature of truth is contested by deliberately fabricated non-facts aimed to sway public opinion. That both Delacruz and Roca bring the discourse to the personal is apt because we, as individuals, are subjected to the gross disinformation in social media and highly personalized propaganda. And yet, they go beyond; pursuing the issue in the realm of affect, tying emotion with conscious decision-making, and therefore, the realm of ethics and morality.
In a world constantly numbing us to right and wrong, with increasingly unthinkable and untenable propaganda, Delacruz and Roca point to the importance of the personal for any attempt to reclaim what is right.
notes by Ricky Francisco