'Hocus' exhibit wants to spark curiosity, critical thinking

Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 01 2017 09:59 PM

The Hocus exhibit features artworks that focus on the Patronato Real or the Royal Patronage, an arrangement between the Spanish monarchy and the Catholic Church many centuries ago. The paintings deal with the Spanish conquest of the Philippines. Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News

The Hocus exhibit features artworks that focus on the Patronato Real or the Royal Patronage, an arrangement between the Spanish monarchy and the Catholic Church many centuries ago. The paintings deal with the Spanish conquest of the Philippines. Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News

The Hocus exhibit features artworks that focus on the Patronato Real or the Royal Patronage, an arrangement between the Spanish monarchy and the Catholic Church many centuries ago. The paintings deal with the Spanish conquest of the Philippines. Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News

The Hocus exhibit features artworks that focus on the Patronato Real or the Royal Patronage, an arrangement between the Spanish monarchy and the Catholic Church many centuries ago. The paintings deal with the Spanish conquest of the Philippines. Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News

The Hocus exhibit features artworks that focus on the Patronato Real or the Royal Patronage, an arrangement between the Spanish monarchy and the Catholic Church many centuries ago. The paintings deal with the Spanish conquest of the Philippines. Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The National Museum presents a unique art exhibit dubbed "Hocus," a collaboration between artists Saul Hofileña Jr. and Guy Custodio. The name Hocus comes from the first syllable of their surnames.

The Hocus exhibit mainly focuses on the Patronato Real or the Royal Patronage, an arrangement between the Spanish monarchy and the Catholic Church many centuries ago. Hence, many of the paintings deal with the conquest of the Philippines with the aid of Spanish friars.

"The problems are still with us. Hanggang ngayon, parang colonial time bombs ito na nilagay sa atin. We are still fighting over religion, we're still fighting over political supremacy," says Hofileña on why they chose the particular theme.

Custodio adds, "I think this should be used as a didactic tool, so people will know who we were before and till now what's going on".

Despite the controversial nature of the topic, the two artists clarify, the exhibit is not anti-Church. But they hope that Filipinos would develop critical thinking. 

Filipinos have always easily believed in people, politicians and various groups without thinking, they say. 

Now, they hope the paintings would spark that curiosity and critical thinking aspect of every Filipino. People should not be easily swayed by a person or an ideology without thinking, they say.

Custodio says he used a 19th century style so the viewer may get "inside" the painting and feel history. 

"First, you think they're old paintings, then you realize, no they're not," says curator and former Tourism Secretary Gemma Cruz-Araneta.

She adds, "Each painting is like a chapter of our history, colonial history. Today, very few people like to read, and a picture is supposed to say a thousand words. And I thought that's a good way to learn about our colonial history."

Cruz-Araneta hopes more Filipinos will visit the museum and appreciate the artworks, instead of going to malls.

Hofileña, a lawyer and historian, is the intellectual author who advises Custodio what to paint. 

Custodio, meanwhile, is a renowned painter who has been working on conserving Catholic churches in the Philippines. They also have a third partner, who they call the anghel de cuyacuy, a little icon they embed in all their artworks.

The Hocus exhibit is at the 2nd floor​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ of the National Museum and will run until October 29, 2017.