Antipas Delotavo’s ‘Machinam’ at The Crucible
Jose Tence Ruiz (The Philippine Star) - October 20, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -To envisage his latest portrait of contemporary anxiety, Antipas Delotavo appropriates a Latin word “Machinam.” Machinam means siege engine, as in the catapults, trebuchets and battering rams the Roman Empire builders used to grind down the fortifications of their Eurasian conquests.

For Delotavo, it is his jedermann, his hypothetical man-on-the-street who is indeed besieged from all fronts: by waves of advertised desire to spend on vapid consumerist promises, by the evolution of fatal disease that just keeps one step ahead of cure, by the unheeded disequilibrium, which he inflicts upon his own planet and by the moral entropy that sees corruption entangling his moral negotiations like a ruthlessly opportunistic forest vine.

This new show of four paintings does little to soothe. Delotavo reports on discomfort with the same unrelenting scrutiny that he applies to capturing the authentic portraits and ironic juxtapositions which have been his calling card for the last four decades. He will have to allow others to do the comforting.  Like it or not, like a clock that reminds us how late we already are, his message is necessary, if somewhat unsettling.

He reckons that the vast, deep reserve of advertising hacks is more than enough to offer a short-lived pillow of unreal bliss. He might even see himself as an unsolicited but requisite antidote to this abiding geography of lotus eating. If he has one motive thread, it is of disposability; of how the common population is systematically reduced to utilitarian insignificance. Given his implication of the widening divide, the middle class might just be next in the order of erasure.

Alarm signals are undesirably shrill. Where would the alarm lie if they were sweet enough to bring us back to the slumber from which we hope to be roused?  Delotavo has come to terms with his register: shrill, but how else? He opens this new exhibit on Oct. 21 at the Crucible Gallery, fourth floor, SM Megamall A, Mandaluyong.

Food and cocktails will be served from 6 p.m. onwards, hopefully softening the high notes of warning.

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