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Aileen Lanuza’s ‘The Interrogation of Maria Clara’ at Galerie Joaquin

“Cartographing Maria” by Aileen Lanuza

MANILA, Philippines - Exploring new directions in the integration of popular art and culture with renditions of literary archetypes, painter Aileen Lanuza reaches the intersections of Filipinana, pop aesthetics, interest in the silver screen and feminism in her intriguing new series. In “The Interrogation of Maria Clara,” showing at Galerie Joaquin, opening Thursday, Aug. 8 at 6 p.m., the titular painting is in the guise of a movie poster (complete with the laurel-surrounded text announcing awards garnered), setting the overall tone of an attempted discourse. The passive and feminine Maria Clara –– long a symbol of the chastity of the Filipina –– is culled from Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and passed through the prism of Lanuza’s own vision of femininity. Thus appropriated, she is then considered another pop cultural trope as opposed to a national archetype and is treated accordingly in the modern medium of film, alongside other “heroes” of the medium — including animated characters and film stars.

But why is the fragile and revered Maria Clara being the subject of an interrogation in the first place?  In this show, artist Aileen Lanuza presents twelve paintings that allow the viewer to answer the question himself and to weave his own story. Lanuza investigates this fixation with Maria Clara as she presents her own concern for the silver screen, Hollywood, and even icons of Filipino movies mixed with favorite Disney characters.  Lanuza herself is far from inexperienced in such forays. She has long experimented with placing the female form in pop cultural contexts –– Catwoman, for instance –– and has a conceptually surrealist series using the archetypal image of Maria Clara. As she progressed in her practice, she began to strip the contexts from her figurations and presented women in postures that indicated sensual femininity, throughout which she displays a remarkable affinity for hyperrealism as an aesthetic style.

The exhibit runs from Aug. 8-16 at Galerie Joaquin, located at 371 P. Guevarra Street corner Montessori Lane, Addition Hills, San Juan City. For information, call 723-9418 or e-mail at or visit

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