“Manuel Ocampo is a Filipino. He has lived in Manila, Los Angeles, Rome and Seville. His identity is colored equally by Catholicism and chewing gum, Marxism and Mickey Mouse, and the shock that people experience looking at his pictures more or less corresponds to the culture shock that Ocampo has experienced first hand. [...] In his paintings the great - the greatest - symbols are brought together in a grotesque pantomime. [...] He exposes civilization’s achievements as hypocrisy and presents us with chaos in the form of a collective mental state. [...] His scenarios are apocalypses made picture: stark scenes seething with violence, decadence, and blasphemy, which depict the tortures of the Spanish colonial rulers alongside the insignia of heavy metal or the typology of splatter movies. [...] Nonchalantly, he ignores all boundaries, regardless of whether they are between painting and sculpture or between high culture and trivial art.” (Sandra Danicke)

An Object functioning as a Nostalgic Emanation of Libidinal De-amputations

Like religious portrayals, Manuel Ocampo’s paintings and their titles are usually complex compilations of many elements which are full of allusions, and they do not always produce a coherent whole. The widely varied possible interpretations of the individual picture elements present the beholder with a broad spectrum of understanding, but they will not lead him to a final conclusion. In the painting in the Mudam Collection, An Object functioning as a Nostalgic Emanation of Libidinal De-amputations, the beholder may find a reference to one of the most popular paintings by the German painter Carl Spitzweg, the “Armer Poet” (Poor Poet) of 1839, which has here been transformed into an apocalyptic caricature as an icon of the petty bourgeois world of the Biedermeier. A sausage, a vulture, leather breeches, a cross and a skull form fragments of a symbolic vocabulary which is here compressed into an absurd whole which stifles our initial inclination to laugh. Picturesquely set between the gesticular style of Jean-Michel Basquiat and the caustic caricatures of Robert Crumb, Manuel Ocampo’s paintings are anarchistic provocations which violently shake the visual expectations which the beholder brings to the form and content of the work.

Manuel Ocampo
An Object functioning as a Nostalgic Emanation of Libidinal De-amputations, 2006
Oil on canvas
197,5 x 197,5 cm
Collection Mudam Luxembourg
Acquisition 2007
© Photo: Rémi Villaggi