Dystopian Paintings by Rodel Tapaya

by James ScarboroughPosted on June 13, 2014

Charles Dickens’s “A Tale of Two Cities” and the acrylic paintings of Filipino artist Rodel Tapaya share something in common. Both contend that it’s the best of times and the worst of times.

Tapaya’s works’ formal qualities compress space and action. Pieces seem about to explode or else spin off the wall. There’s no clear narrative line, just a relentless series of actions and reactions. The works’ picture planes are flatter than flat. Their compositions are active and claustrophobic. Things appear in flux. The atmosphere emits a visual humidity. As in a myth, things good and things not-so-good vie for the viewer’s attention. There’s no resolution to these conflicts. They serve as cautionary tales.

Each piece presents an element of peril. Each piece also presents a corresponding element of hope. Hope and peril coexist as partners in some macabre tango. It’s hard to tell who leads whom. There’s a dragon with bared teeth. There’s some kind of warrior with a spear. There’s a priestess doing God-knows-what with those eyes. Human figures, totemic figures and animals with human faces grimace like something out of Hieronymus Bosch. And there are also trees, flowers and birds; vibrant greens, pinks and yellows. In one piece, a miracle occurs. It could be black magic. In any event it’s supernatural and dreamy, real and not.

Much More at


Filipino artist Rodel Tapaya bags grand prize in international art contest

By: Lito B. Zulueta

November 19th, 2011

Philippine Daily Inquirer

SINGAPORE—Filipino artist Rodel Tapaya won on Thursday night the grand prize  in the Asia-Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize, an international art contest of Asia-Pacific artists, for a mural that weaves together ancient myths and folklore with current realities, such as environmental degradation and flooding.

Tapaya’s work, “Baston ni Kabunian, Bilang Pero di Mabilang (Cane of Kabunian, Numbered but Cannot be Numbered), bested 14 other mainly large-scale art works from 14 countries across the Asia-Pacifc. The shortlist of finalists was selected from among 130 works nominated from 24 countries by art experts.

(Read more)

Rodel Tapaya also graduated from University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts.

To view his bio/cv and other works, visit his website at

Rodel Tapaya, Grand Prize Winner.

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Artist Rodel Tapaya has won the Asia Breweries Pacific Foundation Signature Art Prize in Singapore, competing with 14 other renowned Asian Pacific Artists for the Grand Prize, last Thursday on the 17th of November 2011.

The submission to his success was the Baston ni Kabunian, Bilang Pero di Mabilang (Cane of kabunian, numbered but cannot be counted) using the medium of Acrylic on canvas, which measures on a monumental scale of 305 x 610 x 8 cm, correlating a narration of Filipino folklore and environmental awareness.

The Grand prize was SGD45,000. You can view his acceptance speech below upon being announced the winner…

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Tapaya said, “I am extremely happy to have received the Grand Prize of the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize. It’s a very prestigious award and I’m honoured to have been nominated alongside 14 other very talented finalists and to be chosen as the winner by such a distinguished and well-respected panel of judges. This award will no doubt be a boost to my practice and is a great encouragement for me to continue producing good work.”

Edit: I have recently come across a live video that shows Rodel Tapaya’s actual acceptance speech which foremost he thanks God. Nothing like the spiel I had copied and pasted from the APB Foundation Signature Art Prize 2011 Awards Ceremony Facebook Page (please see source). So I do apologise to anyone who can bring themselves to care (nor even read this, I’m talking to you lookingforjoserizal followers), specially to Rodel for misrepresenting the authenticity of his moment. Just goes to show you can’t trust everything you read, not even from the primary source itself.

Here’s the video.


Singapore Art Museum


In Western Art class, we were asked to make two posters for the ongoing art exhibit Bato-Balani by the artist Rodel Tapaya who used Philippine mythology and folklore. So I took pictures of the featured artwork with my phone and used those in the poster.

Medium: Illustrator CS6 (for the leaves in the 2nd poster), Photoshop CS6