Published October 02, 2020
What does an Amorsolo painting of farmer's planting rice mean to you? It can be fun to not to take such images at face value and uncover what we unquestioningly accept as Filipinos. For visual artist Cian Dayrit, this stance forms the bedrock of an artistic practice.
Dayrit is a storyteller who often dismantles Filipiniana and Philippine history through paintings, sculptures, and installations. His work is heavily based on research and often exposes or pokes fun at the ideas, images, and conventions we take for granted and accept as benevolent and civilized.
Dayrit's work often leads him to unearth unwritten or unofficial histories with startling results. For instance, Ayta men would pour the sauce from sardine cans over their heads as honorific act, as the cans were wages from their American colonists. Findings such as this, based on oral stories gathered from the Aytas, went into creating several wooden sculptures and other artworks for Buhis Ibat ha Kayunan, his 2017 solo exhibit at Bellas Artes Outpost.
Cartography features a great deal in his output, part of an ongoing appropriation and critique of institutional traditions, disciplines, and imagery. In an exhibition called "In Exposition," Dayrit took old maps from the Lopez museum's collection and inscribed his own commentary, satirical responses to how political power is exerted through these instruments.
As a Filipino contemporary artist heavily focused on Philippine history, Dayrit taps into several disciplines such as ethnography and archaeology and multiple themes including nationhood, hegemony, mythology, politics, and so on. He also is drawn to the colonial and post-colonial histories of others.
Dayrit was a recipient of the 2017 Ateneo Art awards and the 2018 Thirteen Artist's Award. In 2019, he participated in Gasworks' Artist-in-Residency program. His latest solo exhibition was "Beyond the God's Eye" was in 2019 at Nome Gallery, Berlin.