Making sense of modern times


    Following his incisive repertoire of historical paintings, contemporary master artist Juanito Torres presents a poignant survey of the times with his latest solo show, “The New Reality: Truth is Stranger Than Fiction.”

    Torres’s new series of artworks don the masks of modernity, under the familiar conditions that the unprecedented Coronavirus has set in train.

    Through these artworks, the artist pointedly suggests a topical “what if.” If it wasn’t grief that had abated in the near 200 days since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, then it was the clamor, the initial shock that did.

    Restrictions have loosened. And although people may again frequent public spaces, the present reality seems unhinged, neither new nor normal, and in Torres’s skilled hands, as tenuous as a dream.

    The artist’s multifaceted portrayals of daily life range from solemn to satirical, jubilant to bizarre. Juanito Torres aptly presents a poignant survey of the times through this latest series of works marking a shift for the artist, from a visual historian to present-day historiographer.

    Exposed to art early on through frequent visits to the National Museum as soon as a pre-schooler, Juanito Torres was probably one of Juan Luna’s youngest admirers. Studying in the Philippine High School for the Arts on a scholarship only strengthened the artist’s resolve. The undergraduate thesis he had became the seeds of what would eventually become his first show, Tao Po, hosted by none other than Dr. Joven Cuanang at the Pinto Art Museum in 2006.