There’s a palpable darkness that permeates the surreal oil paintings of Philippine artist Leslie De Chavez. Rendered on large, black canvases, the shadowy landscapes are home to ghoulish, distorted figures and act as settings to various scenes of violence, corruption and suffering. Born in Manila, De Chavez uses his art to reflect upon current socio-political issues that affect his homeland. Through use of powerful text and imagery, his works explore religion, national identity, global capitalism, power struggle, and corruption within modern government. While the works appear dismal and often sinister, De Chavez is driven by the hope that his art can create awareness and inspire positive, progressive change within his community.
De Chavez’s artist statement reads: “My process entails resurfacing of historical templates, re-examining contemporary social discourse and rediscovering introspection as methods to pin down the truth about the many realities we Filipinos are experiencing. As an artist, I believe that responding to our continuous victimization from the chronic conditions of our society through art can be truly liberating.”
De Chavez earned his BFA in Painting with distinction from the University of Philippines’ College of Fine Arts. His work has been exhibited internationally, including in China, Germany, the United States, South Korea, and Switzerland. De Chavez is also the current director of Project Space Pilipinas, an artist-run initiative that provides assistance and support for artists, cultural workers and individuals with artistic interests.
De Chavez’s oeuvre extends beyond paintings into mixed media, sculpture and installation. The artist is currently exhibiting as part of a group show titled Between the Street and the Mountain: Four Artists from the Philippines, now on view at Arario Gallery in Shanghai through September 2. Another exhibition, titled Stirring the Ashes, features his sculptural works at Ateneo Gallery in Quezon City through September 17.