LOOK: Artist tackles 'war on drugs' in exhibit

Angelo G. Garcia

Posted at Aug 18 2017 05:25 PM

US-based Filipino artist Hadrian Mendoza. Angelo G. Garcia

“A Drop of Red” series. Angelo G. Garcia

Pushers” is composed of 136 ceramic heads. Angelo G. Garcia

A closer look at “Pushers.” Angelo G. Garcia

“Blood Moon” series. Angelo G. Garcia

MANILA – As of May this year, 3,407 Filipinos have been killed due to the government’s anti-drug campaign, more popularly known as the “war on drugs.” 

Spearheaded by none other than President Rodrigo Duterte, the campaign has raised concerns from different groups, private citizens, and even the international community. 

When a campaign this big is receiving mixed reactions worldwide, it is bound to get scrutinized from different sectors of the community.

And the art world is one of them.

US-based Filipino artist Hadrian Mendoza recently visited Manila to open his “A Drop of Red” exhibit at Galleria Duemila in Pasay City.

The exhibit is a social commentary about the drug war that the country is presently facing.

“The idea came from just hearing what’s been happening here. It’s more through the net, my cousins here telling me what’s happening and I read things in the news. It kind of paints an image in my mind and I expressed it through ceramics,” the 44-year-old artist said.

One of the pieces in the exhibit is the “A Drop of Red” series, featuring hand molded ceramic clouds and simple yarns. The white and red yarns hanging from the fragile clouds represent the blood spilled during the numerous killings in the country.

The “Pushers,” on the other hand, is a collection of 136 pieces of ceramic heads depicting those killed in police operations and summary executions. 

Meanwhile, the “Blood Moon” series is composed of 28 beautiful square slabs of ceramics colored with red glaze, ash, and gold accents that signify the average 28-day rehabilitation for drug addicts.

Mendoza said he has been aiming to create artworks that are not just pleasing to the eye, but also make an impact on society.

“I make pieces that send messages to groups of people. I think that’s something that I’ve been tapping recently – not just shaping faces or making plates, but actually to make an impact and voice out an opinion. The meanings have become deeper,” he said.

Mendoza stressed, however, that his objective is not to preach and push his opinions down everybody’s throats. Rather, the artist wants to open people’s minds and stir their thoughts about certain realities.

“The show is not really preaching what is right. I don’t want to preach about how I feel this country should be run, but it’s more like pieces just to make you think,” he ended.

Mendoza has an extensive career in ceramics, staging exhibits here and abroad. He started his craft in Virginia in the mid-90s then moved to the Philippines to become an instructor at his own pottery school in Makati. 

He then ran the country’s premier secondary art school, Philippine High School for the Arts.

Last April, Mendoza was awarded the Alfred E. Steck Memorial Prize by George Washington University, where he is finishing is post-graduate studies and also works as a ceramic instructor.

“A Drop of Red” runs until August 31 at Galleria Duemila, 210 Loring St., Pasay City.