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Philippine history is replete with stories of valor and courage, with a hero defending the honor of his family, village, nation and countrymen. A country often builds its identity on the backs of the narratives it constructs around their heroes.

Artist Juanito Torres (b. 1977) has built his practice around the “mythologizing” aspects of Philippine nation-building. His paintings parse out the truths from the constructed “histories” we are taught in school and lace them with a scathing awareness of how the efforts of historians, screenwriters, politicians, and the masses have appropriated, re-appropriated, and recycled Philippine heroes for whatever purposes they may serve. In this manner, his practice serves to stimulate the recent interest in history. Indeed, Torres’ practice is a vital component in fleshing out what it truly means to be Filipino. Juanito Torres will be having a one-man show entitled “The New Reality: Truth is Stranger than Fiction” will open on October 21 and run until October 31, 2020 at Galerie Joaquin at the UP Town Center in Diliman, Quezon City.

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Haunting, surreal, and technically astute, the new works that will be exhibited in his upcoming show, “Frontliners and Superheroes,” are an invaluable visual entry point into Philippine reality, history, culture, and society.

How does a nation find itself? The most obvious answer is that it finds meaning in its identity – and this identity is derived from a shared history and reality. The Philippines is, in many ways, an artificial nation whose boundaries were drawn by colonizers in the Age of Discovery. As a people then, Filipinos have always been bound by a sense of justice that came with independence and freedom. By shedding the mantle of servitude to a far-away state, we cease becoming their subjects and stand as our own people, with our own identity as a nation.

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