Oska Gutheil & Rodel Tapaya Duo Exhibition -
A Tale of Two Cities
2023.5.4 - 6.5
Hong Kong Wong Chuk Hang Space
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Filipino artist Rodel Tapaya and German artist Oska Gutheil, for the first time, collaborate in a new exhibition opening on May 4th at Tang Contemporary Art Hong Kong. The show, curated by Michela Sena and titled "A Tale of Two Cities", showcases a selection of artworks inspired by the artists' personal experiences of living in two different cultures: Tapaya in Manila and Gutheil in Berlin.
Together, the artists create a unique blend of cultural aesthetics that converges audiences from different backgrounds and nationalities. It demonstrates how art can bridge cultural divides and foster understanding among diverse communities. It also demonstrates the power of collaboration in the art world and how it can create new and exciting possibilities for both artists and audiences.
The exhibition highlights Tapaya's signature style of combining traditional Philippine folklore with contemporary issues, as well as Gutheil's focus on his inner world and the complexities of his visionary dimension.
For Oska Gutheil, his paintings question social norms within society and is primarily concerned with the construct that we call reality. Uniformity, failure, gender clichés and transformation play a decisive role in the often biographically inspired works. His works result in vibrant canvases with bold colors and textures, evoking a sense of movement and energy.
Rodel Tapaya instead is known for his large-scale paintings on canvas, which depict complex narratives inspired by his cultural heritage and personal experiences. His works often incorporate elements of Philippine mythology, folklore, traditional storytelling and contemporary social issues, and are characterized by their bright colors, intricate patterns, and layered symbolism.
Even through distinct stylistic approaches, Tapaya and Gutheil's works harmonize to create a unique and stunning visual display when juxtaposed against each other. A fusion of traditional inspirations elaborated in a contemporary language, resulting in a modern and innovative art form.
Like A Tale of Two Cities, the show becomes a visual journey that explores the intersection of culture and artistic expression. The exhibition aims to prove how different contexts can meet in a smooth dialogue. In its complexity the show highlights the power and beauty of art in transcending cultural boundaries and creating a shared human experience. In fact, despite their different backgrounds and approaches, both Tapaya and Gutheil share a common interest in exploring human experiences and emotions through their art, and in challenging the boundaries between traditional and contemporary forms of expression.
The collaboration demonstrates that it is no longer necessary to consider the art of new generations to be under any cultural or geographical lenses. Rather, if a context is needed, it must be found in the generational context, which shows common features among individual artists coming from all the world. Raised and educated in the same global world, young contemporary artists, instead of being defined by their cultural or national heritage, are seeking to express universal human experiences such as love, loss, and identity. They are also more aware of social and political issues, and are eager to use their art to comment on and critique the world around them. And it is just the consonance of their dimensions that allows young contemporary artists to often explore interdisciplinary collaborations, blending different art forms and working with other artists from different fields.
The process results in a new artistic context, where art is becoming increasingly diverse and inclusive, as artists from different backgrounds and cultures come together to create art that reflects the world we live in.
What the exhibition particularly leaves us with, is a sense of visionary: the form of aesthetic experience that emerges from the intersection of art, technical skills, and cultures; a term coined by artist and philosopher Joseph Nechvatal to describe the creation of immersive, interactive, and transformative environments that allow people to explore new dimensions of reality.
In the context of art, dream, transformation and visionary, what is created is a dreamlike and transformative experience for the viewer. This show creates an immersive environment that blurs the boundaries between the self and the world, between the conscious and the unconscious, and between reality and fantasy.
Oska Gutheil Horizon Oil on canvas 150 x 220 cm 2022
Oska Gutheil Turtles beach Oil on canvas 150 x 170 cm 2022
Oska Gutheil The last of its kind Oil on canvas 180 x 220 cm 2022
Oska Gutheil Rainbow Milking Unicorn Oil on canvas 220 x 150 cm x 2, 2023
Oska Gutheil Whistleblower Oil on canvas 260 x 130 cm x 2 2020
Oska Gutheil Headache Oil on canvas 170 x 170 cm 2020
Oska Gutheil Inner Wrestle Oil on canvas 150 x 160 cm 2023
Oska Gutheil Spinner Oil on canvas 150 x 170 cm 2022
Oska Gutheil Spinnerich Oil on canvas 40 x 45 cm 2022
Rodel Tapaya Capital B Acrylic on canvas 193 x 152.4 cm 2017
Rodel Tapaya Random Numbers Acrylic on canvas 152.4 x 121.9 cm 2021
Rodel Tapaya The Comedy, Parody and Tragedy Acrylic on canvas 300 x 700 cm 2018
Rodel Tapaya Remedy Acrylic on canvas 193 x 152.4 cm 2021
Rodel Tapaya Even the longest day has its end Acrylic on canvas 152.4 x 121.9 cm 2021
Rodel Tapaya The Caravan Acrylic on canvas 152.5 x 122 cm 2023
Rodel Tapaya In the Shade Acrylic on canvas 152.5 x 122 cm 2023
Rodel Tapaya Bringing the Fire Acrylic on canvas 152.5 x 213 cm 2023
Rodel Tapaya The Messenger Acrylic on canvas 152.5 x 213 cm 2023
b. 1980, Ravensburg, Germany
Oska Gutheil lives and works in Berlin since 2000. Received his MFA at Universität der Künste, Berlin. Typical of Gutheil's figurative painting is the stylized, colorful compositions in which narrative comic aesthetics and expressive lines meet.
In his varied series of works, Gutheil takes up topics such as gender, gender norms and existing uniformities in our society. Social projections, stereotypes, but also individual longings are deconstructed with relish and often with a lot of wits, dissolved and transformed into something new. Gutheil's pictures are populated by people, animal hybrids, dream creatures, and sometimes fairy tale landscapes – humour but also the grotesque is omnipresent here. The absurd and the fantastic are combined with everyday phenomena.
Oska Gutheil has presented in numerous institutional solo shows, including the recent solo exhibitions: “Oska Gutheil 2022”, Kunstsammlung, Jena (Germany,2022); “Övre”, Kunstraum Potsdam, (Germany, 2020); “ZWEI NULL ZWEI NULL”, Gallerie Krinzinger Schottenfeld, (Astria, 2020); “Fitz Fatz Peng”, Kunstverein Ulm, (Germany, 2017); His paintings were included in group exhibitions: “Why can’t we live together”, Kunstmuseum Marburg and Marburger Kunstverein, (Germany, 2022); “Fragmented bodies II”, Albertz Benda Gallery, (USA, 2021); “Time takes a Cigarette”, Josh Lilley Gallery, (UK, 2022); “Blow up”, ASU Artmuseum, (USA, 2016); “Taguchi Art Collection ”, Matsumoto City Museum of Art, (Japan, 2014).
b. 1980, Hong Kong
At the heart of Rodel Tapaya’s work is his ongoing amalgamation of folk narrative and contemporary reality within the framework of memory and history. Utilizing a range of media - from large acrylic on canvasses to the exploration of under-glass painting, traditional crafts, diorama, and drawing - Tapaya filters his observations of the world through folktales and pre-colonial historical research, creating whimsical montages of his characters.
His work is held in the following museum and institutional collections: Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Australia, Tokyo Mori Art Museum, Singapore Art Museum, Philippines Bencab Museum, Philippines Ateneo Art Gallery, Philippines Pinto Art Museum, Central Bank of the Philippines. Rodel Tapaya was awarded the coveted Top Prize in the Nokia Art Awards, which allowed him to pursue intensive drawing and painting courses at Parsons School of Design in New York and the University of Helsinki in Finland. 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 was also among the Thirteen Artists Awardee of the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 2012.
Michela Sena is a Rome-Bangkok-based curator and art critic. Her research relates partly to the potential of global language and the relationship and dialogue between contemporary artists coming from different territories. After she graduated in museology and art history at Roma Tre University and got a Chinese language degree at SISU Shanghai Foreign Studies University, she was Director of Primo Marella Gallery Beijing and Director of Tang Contemporary Art Bangkok. She curated a wide number of shows proposing a punctual snapshot of contemporary art research, developing in recent years a focus on Chinese and southeast Asian art.