Cryptic Slaughter • Manuel Ocampo

Mar 14 to Apr 2, 2012 • Tall Gallery

Cryptic Slaughter: Catholic Remix, The Unseen Power of the Invisible Emoticons and New Texts Paintings

I pursue no objectives, no system, no tendency; I have no program, no style, no direction. I have no time for specialized concerns, working themes or variations that lead to mastery. I steer clear of definitions. I don’t know what I want. I am inconsistent, noncommittal, passive; I like the indefinite, the boundless; I like continual uncertainty.
—Gerhard Richter

Me, too.
—Manuel Ocampo

Internationally-renowned Filipino artist Manuel Ocampo takes over Finale Art File’s expansive gallery space with his latest solo exhibition of new paintings and text-based works.

In the show, Ocampo makes use of theoretical texts and icons from popular culture, in reference to both banality and secular-religious reverence. Works vary: from ubiquitous crosses as subjects for post-painterly figurative abstraction, to Angry Birds computer game graphics, My Little Pony coloring books, and emoticons all appropriated as paintings.

A strong element of the show is its emphasis on words, objectified. Ocampo makes use of theoretical texts on the visual arts, not so much as discourse but as a concrete material for art-making. In doing so, he engages both text and theory as both object and ornamentation, as both a decorative element and a denotation of the essential.

In a series of installations, the artist selects passages from Minima Moralia, Reflections from Damaged Life, a reflection on consumerism in this era of late capitalism written by German critical theorist Theodor Adorno in 1951, suspending the texts on gibbets. The quotations, which proclaim that “talent is perhaps nothing other then successfully sublimated rage,” that “every work of art is an uncommitted crime,” and that “downfall is the goal of every work of art in that it seeks to bring death to all others,” invite the viewer to a public trial and execution of theory, literally and figuratively.

Ocampo also makes use of other art-related texts, randomly appropriating the curriculum vitae of Belgian painter Raoul de Keyser and using it as both text and image for another mural spanning the expanse of the gallery’s wall.

Lastly, Ocampo includes in this show a panel in response to the late German artist Martin Kippenberger’s life and work, entitled Learning from Kippi: The Problem Perspective (You Are Not The Problem It Is The Problem Maker In Your Head). An iconoclast of his time, Kippenberger’s satirical and often humorous takes against high modernist objectivity upheld a tradition of “tactical artistic tomfoolery” that continues up to the present, with equally irreverent contemporaries such as Ocampo.