Published October 28, 2020
At the mere age of four, artist Alwin Reamillo discovered how to light match and nearly burned down his parents’ piano workshop. This experience has gone into nearly 30 years of assemblages or works of art constructed from found objects, noted for their examination of the self, family, and identity, through the use of recurring metaphor-laden motifs. These motifs include pianos and matchboxes, of course, and others that are deeply ingrained in the experience of the Filipino, such as crabs and Jose Rizal, his childhood hero.
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Reamillo’s Assemblages tease viewers to figure out his interpretations of history, his own and of his race. As elaborate takes on Philippine history and Filipino contemporary society, Reamillo’s art invites one to decipher multilayered associations and juxtapositions, that include humor, wordplay, photographs, objects, and even hedgehogs. One can imagine that the fun in making them was in setting this all up. In one exhibition called “AngBalutViand” or balikbayan, Reamillo puts together objects wryly commenting on Filipino historical figures and culture. Each piece is a playful permutation of the balut, Filipino street food, both an object and an idea.
Dense with the historical and the personal, his assemblages are puzzles, requiring viewers to invest time considering their details. But Reamillo has also been known to expand on the idea of social sculpture. Calling them vessels, vehicles, or crafts, Reamillo requires another form of investment to complete them. This time, it is not from viewing but through community or cross-cultural collaboration, dialogue, and effort.
Alwin Reamillo is a Filipino contemporary interdisciplinary artist. He has had several solo exhibitions here and abroad, participating in established international shows such as the Venice Biennale and Havana Biennale.