Based in: Philippines
Max Balatbat paints a polysemic image that resembles a nameless church. Balatbat has always taken inspiration from his natural surroundings, and his work is a mirror of the things that he sees and encounters every day. In this series of paintings, the artist reflects on the paradox of the sacred and the profane and ponders how whores, fortunetellers, anting-anting vendors, and many others flock along the vicinity of a revered, holy place. It's almost as if the church is a living, magnetic nexus that attracts such unlikely characters. Balatbat's traditional architectural abstractions now possess new symbolic elements, such as images of the famous triangular agimat trinkets resembling the All-seeing Eye of God and inscriptions of the Ama Namin in separate versions of Tagalog and Cebuano in the backdrop of each painting. It simply shows how religion and language were weaved together to become subtle chains of oppression for the early Filipinos.