Monique Meloche Gallery announces Maia Cruz Palileo: Days Later, Down River, the artist’s third solo show with the gallery. Palileo is a multidisciplinary artist whose paintings, installations, sculptures, and drawings navigate themes of migration and the persistence of tacit knowledge in the face of assimilation. The works on view map an archival, geological, and spiritual topography of the Palileo family’s homeland—the Philippines—and are inspired by their recent residency at the University of Michigan, which houses one of the largest collections of Filipino artifacts outside of the country. Building off their past research at the Newberry Library in Chicago and their personal family archive, Palileo explores the Bentley Historical Library’s photographic archive of Frank C. Gates, a professor of botany at the University of the Philippines (1912-1915) and objects from the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology’s Philippines collection. By incorporating research from these various archives, their paintings recontextualize stories, portraits, and images to resuscitate and remove from the exploitative gaze of the ethnographic image.
While at the archive, Palileo discovered photo albums of Mount Makiling and Mount Banahaw, dormant volcanoes in the Laguna region of the Philippines. Each mountain is a birthplace of legend; Mount Makiling is the home of the protective spirit Makiling, whose legend was written about by national hero José Rizal, and Banahaw is a sacred mountain for spiritual pilgrimage. These albums served as a portal into the artist’s familial relation to this land, making connections to artifacts in their personal collection of family photographs, blessed amulets, and oral histories. As with volcanoes, they propose history as a site where perceived extinction and dormancy can be uncovered to reveal activity and potential.
Palileo renders the liana’s proliferation, interlacing the visible and invisible through layers of paint, echoing the selective means through which history is presented.
Translating these documents into a creative medium, Palileo cuts out archival images and reassembles them into panoramas where figures occupy mirrored and layered landscapes, offering new dimensions that intertwine ancestry, flora, and fauna.
Monique Meloche Gallery | 451 N Paulina Street, Chicago
On View April 1-May 26, 2023
Opening April 1, 2023 | 4-7PM
Artist Talk April 1, 2023 | 4PM