Rodel Tapaya

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Rodel Tapaya
Rodel Tapaya Garcia

(1980-07-10)July 10, 1980
EducationUniversity of the Philippines, Parsons School of Design, New York University of Art and Design, Helsinki
Known forPainter
Notable work
Cane of Kabunian, numbered but cannot be counted, Deconstruction, Donsadat And The Magic Dog, The Banquet, The Giant Watermelon, The Wedding
MovementSoutheast Asian contemporary painting

Rodel Tapaya is a Filipino painter whose works have gained renown and critical acclaim by winning in several regional art contests and exposure in international exhibitions.[4]


Rodel Tapaya was born in 1980, in Montalban, Rizal, Philippines. He broke out in the art scene by earning the coveted top prize in the Nokia Art Awards competed among artists in the Asia-Pacific region which allowed him to pursue intensive drawing and painting courses at Parsons School of Design in New York and from the University of Helsinki in Finland prior to graduating from the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts. In 2011, he won a landmark achievement for a Filipino artist by winning the Signature Art Prize given by the Asia-Pacific Breweries Foundation and the Singapore Art Museum. He currently lives in Bulacan, Philippines.[5]


Tapaya’s works recurrently depict narratives embedded in Filipino cultural history that offer sharp and often piercing commentary on contemporary life and issues. Through his adept manipulation of folk aesthetic and material, Tapaya provides his mythical characters with allegorical significances that transcend common perception, offering fresh insights about their origins and relevance. The paintings become a tableau of the painter’s articulations and traces of the stories that inspired them. Sometimes his characters appear in archetypes culled from pre-colonial historical research and recorded folktales from recent scholarship."Rodel Tapaya: Folkgotten," was the artist's maiden solo show outside his home country which was organized by the Drawing Room Manila and Utterly Art Singapore in 2008. The exhibit launched Tapaya's direction in painting based on folk myths and narratives and signified a change of styles from his signature burlap paintings, a material which has gained some popularity and copied by other Filipino painters.

In 2008, At Sotheby's Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Paintings auction, Tapaya’s The Wedding raked in HKD220,000 while his Donsadat And The Magic Dog sold for HKD90,000. At a similar Christie’s auction, his acrylic-on-canvas piece, The Banquet hit HKD137,500. At a Borobudur Auction, The Giant Watermelon sold for SGD33,600.[6][7][8]

Tapaya remains a favorite at Southeast Asian auction houses where his works are highly regarded. He is widely exhibited in cities in the Southeast Asian region as well as in Beijing, Berlin, New York and Tokyo.

Rodel Tapaya's current works are marked by labyrinthine patterns and recurring characters that transmit scenes and figures from folk stories in his pictorial world. His detailed execution and finish was described by critic Patrick Flores as a "practice (that) pursues the process of myth-making, appropriating certain archetypes in the discourse of origin and expanding it to create a visual vocabulary that is entirely his own. The folk aesthetic in this highly mediated and idiosyncratic language becomes part of a contemporary reflection on a sense of belonging to a domain of culture. The style resists nativist appropriation of motif; rather it invents its own, making the artist’s effort an interesting intertext to prevailing mythologies."[9] These qualities have led him to receive positive reception from art collectors. He is one of Southeast Asia's most successful contemporary artist at auctions; the far-reaching appreciation of his works has been part of the wave that gained more attention for Southeast Asian contemporary art in recent years.

Awards & accolades[edit]

Rodel Tapaya received the 2011 Signature Art Prize granted by the Asia-Pacific Breweries Foundation and the Singapore Art Museum.[10] He was also among the Thirteen Artists Awardee of the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 2012. Prior to this, he was shortlisted four times to the Ateneo Art Awards in four separate years and won a jury prize to the Phillip-Morris Philippine Art Awards in 2007. As a student he was a semi-finalist of the Metrobank Young Painters' Annual Art Competition.Tapaya also scored first place at the Shell National Students Art Competition in the Watercolor Category. In honor of his achievements, the President of the Republic of the Philippines, Benigno Simeon Aquino III, presented him with an Ani ng Dangal Award at the Malacanang Palace. As a twenty-year-old painter he won the Nokia Art Awards competed among young artists in the Southeast Asian region. This gave him the opportunity to study Painting and Drawing at the Parsons School of Design and the University of Art and Design in Helsinki, Finland. Tapaya is one of Southeast Asia's most active artists with exhibitions held in the region as well as in Berlin, New York, Tokyo and Beijing[11]


·Deutsche Bank Collection

·Art Galley of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

·Singapore Art Museum Collection, Singapore

·Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Manila, Philippines

·Central Bank of The Philippines (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) Collection

·RCBC Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation Collection, Philippines

·Pinto Art Museum Collection, Philippines

·Tiroche DeLeon Collection


Year Title Publisher
2015 Rodel Tapaya Distanz Verlag Berlin
2014 Rodel Tapaya, Bato-Balani Ateneo Art Gallery


Selected solo exhibitions[edit]

Year Exhibition Venue/Represented By Country
2015 Diamond in the Distance ARNDT Gillman Barracks, Singapore Singapore
2015 Present Future Section Artissimo Torino, Italy
2014 The Chocolate Ruins ARNDT Berlin Berlin, Germany
2014 Bato-Balani Ateneo Art Gallery Quezon City, Philippines
2013 Rodel Tapaya: Solo Exhibition ARNDT Gillman Barracks, Singapore Singapore
2012 Rodel Tapaya: Solo Exhibition Wada Fine Arts Tokyo
2012 Deities West Gallery Quezon City
2012 Cloudland Art Hong Kong Hong Kong
2012 Prism and Parallelism BENCAB Museum Baguio City
2012 Labyrinth Art Stage Singapore Singapore
2011 Visions of Lore Galerie Caprice Horn Berlin, Germany
2011 This Beast I Have Become Y++ Gallery Beijing, China
2010 Bulaklak ng Dila [Flowers of the Tongue] Vargas Museum UP Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
2010 Memory Landscapes The Drawing Room Makati City, Philippines
2009 Mythical Roots SOKA ART Center Beijing, China
2009 Diorama The Drawing Room 1007 Metropolitan Ave., Makati City, Philippines
2008 Into the Forest Utterly Art and The Drawing Room 229A South Bridge Road Level 2, Singapore
2008 FOLKgotten The Drawing Room 1007 Metropolitan Ave., Makati City, Philippines
2007 Perya Boston Gallery Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines
2007 Mapapel The Drawing Room Makati City, Philippines
2006 Parables Utterly Art and The Drawing Room 229A South Bridge Road Level 2, Singapore
2006 Looban Boston Gallery Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines
2006 Tauhan Big and Small Art Co. Mandaluyong, Philippines
2005 Lunan Boston Gallery Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines
2005 Recent paintings Big and Small Art Co Mandaluyong, Philippines
2004 Balangkas Boston Gallery Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines

Selected group exhibitions[edit]

Year Exhibition Venue/Represented By Location
2016 WASAK! Reloaded, Filipino Art Today ARNDT Singapore Singapore
2016 The Future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed 20th Biennale of Sydney Sydney, Australia
2015 WASAK! Filipino Art Today ARNDT Berlin Berlin, Germany
2015 June: A Painting Show Sadie Coles London
2015 ICA Off-Site: Hong Kongese Duddell's Hong Kong
2014 10th Gwangju Biennale Republic of Korea
2014 Art Fair Philippines Manila, Philippines
2012 Art Taipei WADA Fine Arts Taipei, Taiwan
2011 Emerging Asian Contemporary Part I WADA Fine Arts Tokyo, Japan
2011 Bisa: Potent Presences Metropolitan Museum Manila, Philippines
2010 Simple Depictions Alliance Francaise de Manille Makati City, Philippines
2010 Looking Back Ark Galerie with The Drawing Room, Philippines Jakarta, Indonesia
2009 Thrice Upon a Time: A Century of Story in the Art of the Philippines Singapore Art Museum Singapore
2009 Verso Manila Verso Arte contemporanea with The Drawing Room Turin, Italy
2009 SCOPE New York ’09 The Drawing Room Lincoln Center, New York, USA
2008 SCOPE Miami ’08 The Drawing Room Miami, Florida, USA
2008 Showcase Singapore Singapore
2008 Hong Kong International Art Fair Hong Kong
2008 CIGE Beijing Art Fair Beijing, China
2008 Bridge Art Fair New York New York, U.S.A.
2007 Art Singapore The Drawing Room Level 4 Suntec Building, Singapore
2006 New Directions The Rotunda Gallery Neilson Hays Library, 195 Surawong Road, Bangkok
2006 Art Singapore The Drawing Room Level 6 Suntec Building, Singapore
2005 Figuras Art center SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City, Philippines
2004 Alay 8 Pinto Art Gallery Antipolo City, Philippines
2004 Configured Drawings Pasilyo Guillermo Tolentino Cultural Center of the Philippines Pasay City
2004 Gamit UP Vargas Museum, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
2004 Danas: Sinsin CCP Small Gallery Pasay City, Philippines
2002 Toys Ayala Museum Makati, Philippines

Notable works[edit]

Cane of Kabunian, numbered but can not be counted, 2010[edit]

Winner of Asia-Pacific Breweries Foundation and Singapore Art Museum (SAM) Signature Art Prize 2012

In a statement issued by the jury consisted of Indian poet, cultural theorist and curator Ranjit Hoskote; Gregor Muir, executive director of the Institute of Contemporary arts in London; Fumio Nanjo, director of the Mori Museum of Tokyo; Indonesian writer, critic and curator Hendro Wiyanto; and Tan Boon Hui, director of the SAM, Rodel Tapaya's Baston ni Kabunian, Bilang Pero di Mabilang (Cane of Kabunian, numbered but cannot be counted) was called

"a compelling and monumental-scale work. With its multiple narratives and diverse allegorical references, this stunning mural-sized painting embodies a vibrant strain in contemporary art from the Asia-Pacific region. While Tapaya does not shy away from drawing on the folklore of his native region, his is neither a naïve nor self-exoticising practice. The artist is audacious in his use of the Philippine mural tradition as well as Latin American magic realism and Bosch-like phantasmagoria. Anchored in a postcolonial setting but with far-reaching universal relevance, the work will surely provoke discussion about emerging aesthetic tendencies in Asia-Pacific."[12]

Deconstruction, 2001[edit]

Winner of the Nokia Art Awards Asia-Pacific,2001

"When I first learned about the competition's theme "Playground of Your Imagination", one thing quickly came into my mind, the family. It is because of these two reasons: first, I have read Plato's dialogue "The Republic", where in the abolition of family was discussed. I didn't like the idea most specifically when he mentioned of the separation of the mothers from their children. Second, I notice that it seems that the essence of family is gone. Father, mother, and children closely knit, united and full of love and understanding. Instead of those ideals, the irony rises today. Misunderstanding between couples offen [sic] lead to marriage break-ups. Most parents have lost quality time for their children and it attributes unfavourable conditions and more. The negative points mentioned about family urged me to do something positive about family. For the parents and the children should together trace life's long journey united in harmony and love. It is from the experience of togetherness where they find out survival, how to live a just and humane life. My work depicts unity of people, women and men, young and old building the image of the family. It is obvious that the rendition is childlike because it seems to me that the family fills in the lives of people. As defined, the family is the basic unit of the society; it is where good citizens are molded. The colour implies strength, understanding and love for all."- Rodel Tapaya's artist statement for the Nokia Art Awards[13]

The Giant Watermelon, 2008[edit]

THE Giant Watermelon fetched the highest price in the 2008 Borobodur Auction in Singapore and is one of the works by young Filipino artists which set a new benchmark for Filipino art’s popularity abroad. A record number of 50 works were put on the block in the auction, and 86 percent were sold.[14]

Ang batang maraming bawal, 2007[edit]

Children's book published by CANVAS and UST Publishing House

“Ang Batang Maraming Bawal” is the winner of The Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development's (CANVAS') second annual Romeo Forbes Children's Storywriting Competition and Rodel Tapaya was selected by the publisher to illustrate the book before the story was selected. A number of writer's submitted their stories based on a single painting by Tapaya, of which Fernando Gonzales was chosen. The book launching was accompanied by an exhibit of all Tapaya's illustrations at Glorietta Artspace.[15]


  1. ^ A Family Matter: Rodel T. Garcia, Asian Art News, March–April 2001
  2. ^ Flores, Patrick, Visual Vernacular in Rodel Tapaya's Bulaklak ng Dila exhibition catalog, Vargas Museum and Drawing Room Gallery, December 2010
  3. ^ Rodel Tapaya, Filipino Grand Prize Winner of the APB Foundation Signature Art Prize, The Freeman, December 24, 2011, retrieved January 25, 2012
  4. ^ Filipino artist Rodel Tapaya bags grand prize in international art contest, November 2011, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  5. ^ Barreto, Monica, Top 10 Most Successful Young Visual Artists in Manila November 26, 2010, retrieved January 25, 2012
  6. ^ Sotheby's Hongkong Auction Results,
  7. ^ Christie's Auction Results
  8. ^ Borobudur Auction Results
  9. ^
  10. ^ Singapore Art Museum, 'Signature Art Prize Catalogue' 2011
  11. ^ Contemporary Art Philippines, Rodel Tapaya's, Origin of Myths, November 2011.
  12. ^ (Singapore), Jury Statement, November 2012, Retrieved January 25, 2012
  13. ^ (Seoul, South Korea), Nokia Art Awards Asia Pacific, 2001, Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  14. ^ Ong, James, Young Filipino artists outshine masters in auction Philippine Daily Inquirer-Global Nation, May 25, 2008, Retrieved February 25, 2012
  15. ^ Ang Batang Maraming Bawal, CANVAS

External links[edit]