24.6 C
Toronto
Thursday, May 23, 2024
Home Art and Culture Asian Heritage art exhibit features Pinoy artist

Asian Heritage art exhibit features Pinoy artist

0
Asian Heritage art exhibit features Pinoy artist
"Democide, Oil on canvas". In one of Rivera's works of art, particularly "Democide," he depicts how disappearances and extrajudicial killings in the Philippines disproportionately affect the poor. (Photo credits: Joe and Patty Rivera)

by Lui Queano

Reflection and Renewal was an art and photography exhibition held at the rotunda of Toronto City Hall from May 15 to May 19 2023. The exhibit was put on in observance of Asian Heritage Month, giving locals the chance to reflect on and learn more about the contributions made to Canada by people of Asian heritage.

Joe Rivera, a Filipino-Canadian artist, was among the artists whose work was displayed in a multi-media art exhibition. The majority of Rivera’s paintings are rooted in social realism, distinguishing them from the works of other artists. He is moved by the plight of migrant workers, farm workers, and, more recently, extrajudicial killings. In one of Rivera’s works of art, particularly “Democide,” he depicts how disappearances and killings in the Philippines disproportionately affect the poor.

Artist Joe Rivera and his wife, poet and writer Patria Rivera, at the Asian
Heritage multimedia exhibit in Toronto City Hall’s rotunda. (Photo by LQueano)

Rivera’s artwork illustrates the existence of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines and the Filipino people’s struggle to end this. One might speculate that if Rivera lived in the Philippines and painted the same things he does now, he would be an easy target for redtagging for speaking the truth. Nonetheless, Rivera is unbending. In reality, Rivera’s art had historical and cultural significance that could inspire Canadians and Filipino-Canadians to defend justice and truth against red-tagging and all forms of attacks.

“Going Home 2, Oil on canva, 30×40”. The majority of Rivera’s paintings are based on social realism,
which sets them apart from the work of other artists. He is moved by the plight of migrant and farm
workers, as well as, more recently, extrajudicial killings. (Photo by Joe-Patty Rivera)

“Democide (oil on canvas, 24 x30),” an abstract painting by Joe Rivera, was inspired by past and recent events in the Philippines.

Rivera explains in his artist’s notes that democide is a term coined by American political scientist Rudolph Rummel to describe any government’s murder of any number of people. This includes extrajudicial summary executions or killings.

“The martial law regime ushered in by then-Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos in 1972 unleashed human rights violations that clearly demonstrated a pattern of widespread arrests and detention, enforced disappearances, killings, and torture of people who were critical of the government or perceived as political opponents,” continues Rivera.

The enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions that occurred during the martial law period have continued and gotten worse since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016. Human rights violations have largely gone unpunished.

According to Rivera, the majority of those targeted and killed are journalists, lawyers, environmental activists, community leaders, Indigenous people, and others labelled as communists or terrorists by the government.

Rivera’s artwork, which is proudly displayed at the Asian heritage exhibit, is of such significance and value that it may inspire people to stand up for justice and the truth in the face of red-tagging, repression, and other threats to free expression.