The powerful manner that characterizes Elmer Borlongan's work is the mixture of stylized expressionist figures set in the most minimal of backgrounds that emphasizes a brief narrative. His works often tell tales about survival, persistence, light hearted fatalism, and the witty affronts of people as they wage through the intricacies of a post-industrial age with a hangover from centuries of imperial colonialism and neocolonialism. This painting is a simple depiction of a neighbor’s son peering into the window of another person’s house. Even in the most cramped urban spaces, the indigenous Filipino idea of the openness of spaces to communal engagements lend to the value of pakikisama, where the participation and tolerance of everyone in the community is a token to a kind of cooperation among its members. Thus the community children, who are often strays in the neighborhood, can peer into one’s domicile, be entertained, or even invited in for a treat or an hour of television time. Borlongan’s work appeals to these instances and episodes of visitation. They call upon the image of a Filipino neighborhood that thrives in its openness.
Oil on Canvas
61 x 61 cm (24 x 24”)
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