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Jeho Bitancor: New Works

New Works

Jeho Bitancor: Farewell to Empire
by: Riel Jaramillo Hilario

Visual artist Jeho Bitancor turns to the medium and language of installation in this recent exhibition, New Works. The artist is noted for his paintings which predominantly expressed progressive leanings and a visually transcribed criticism of imperialist/capitalist excesses and their subsequent roles as the harbingers of greed and decadence in comtemporary Philippine society. He participated in some activist artist groups, in the late 80's to early 90's, notably with ABAY and Sanggawa. This installation echoes the critical themes contra imperialism explored by the artist in his previous paintings. Though the present work's use of medium brings home more direct and poignant points with such ferocity and immediacy - characteristics often rare in the vicarious and theatrical domain of painting.

Bitancor's installation derives much of its elements from appropriations of Christian imagery, more specifically from the Holy Passion: cruciform placements, the deposition ladder, ashes and blood, wine and host. Ironically Bitancor does not make references to the redemptive message of the Passion, but uses the imagery to describe (or prophesy) an event, namely the death of Empire, the world of rapacious greed of the Imperio-Capitalist. As such, the artist assumes the posture of an apocalyptic prophet hurling forth words of anthema to an abominable beast with cracked feet of clay.

the central portion of the installation is marked with an assemblage reminiscent of the Deposition. Scattered on the floor are cinders whose placement evokes a recent conflagration that has scorched a golden ladder. The remains of a singed business suit hang near the top rungs of the ladder and from here proceeds transparent hoses, like IV lines of blood tap sources of precious life from the pages of the books, composed in the form of a cross on a painted red wall. At the foot of the ladder are seedlings, ever reliable symbols of hope in death fields. Bitancor's hits point-blank that the lifelines of late imperialist capitalism are materialist philosophies and sciences wrangled from their true contexts. Thus texts from Darwinism, laissez faire economics, Nietzschean Ubermensch (superman), theocracy, utilitarianism among others become the apologetics to the rapacious, apathetic and juggernaut killing and consumption of this modern monster. Thus the work evinces ideology as the black soul of the Empire, its only source of existence and nourishment.

In other aspects of the piece, Bitancor decries efforts to resurrect the dying monster. Books, as symbols of nascent ideology, are piled up to support yet another ladder that leads to the top of the social pyramid, where power, influence, money and truth are dispensed with god-like omnipotence. (To the top, is where they want to go, climbing the rungs of wanton consumption and patronage politics.) From a tomb-like installation on one side of the gallery emerge the dark shrouded shapes of a man. It is a parody of imminent rebirth, much more closer to the reanimation of a zombie, on its way up to pillage once more the realm of the living.

Bitancor seems to have constructed a memento mori to late-stage capitalism, exposing its imperialist viscera and to some extent its colonialist tentacles. the work recalls the installations of a shaman whose rituals need to illustrate magically, the death of an enemy, or the subjugation of a malevolent deity for healing to occur. For the enemy might resuscitate, gain strength to attack and ravage the hero and oppress the people. The artist's work then pleads us to pay attention to the workings of ideology and its presence in society.

It is therefore out twofold task to slay the dragon and, as a precaution, cut off its head.

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The Works

Jeho Bitancor

Jeho Bitancor

Jeho Bitancor

Jeho Bitancor

Jeho Bitancor

Jeho Bitancor

Jeho Bitancor

Jeho Bitancor

Jeho Bitancor

Jeho Bitancor

Jeho Bitancor

Jeho Bitancor

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Last November 2003, Jeho was honored by Cong. Bellaflor angara-Castillo for his achievements in the Arts. He was also commisioned to do a 4 panel painting depicting the history of Baler. The work is now on permanent display at the Museo de Baler.

Jeho Bitancor

Jeho Bitancor

Jeho Bitancor

Jeho Bitancor

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One of his paintings is also on exhibit until  March 18 at the 18th Asian International Art exhibition
(December 9, 2003 - March 18, 2004) , Hongkong Heritage Museum, Shatin, Hongkong

The exhibit features works Philippine artists: Ben Cabrera, Virgilio Aviado, Norma Belleza, Jeho Bitancor, Eduardo Castrillo, Sid Gomez Hidlawa, Ramong Orlina, Susa Fetalvero-Roces, Jose Tenze Ruiz, & Phyllis Zaballero.


Jeho Bitancor

Jeho Bitancor

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All photographs are property of Jeho Bitancor

Click here to see other works of Jeho Bitancor

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BUKANGLIWAYWAY
Impressions/Images
of Aurora

A one-man exhibit by
Jeho Bitancor
August 15-20, 2004
Museo De Baler




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