Rodel Tapaya’s works have long drawn from the rich pre-colonial mythology of the Philippines, harnessing the fables, folklore and legends of the many indigenous groups that once existed across the archipelago. These stories were often origin tales, relating how fire, water or animals came into being, or how a local landmark got its name. Transmitted orally – often told by an elder to a child – many of these stories were lost or forgotten during the period of western colonial rule, until more recent attempts to record them in printed word or in image. Here, Tapaya has shaped the dioramas with pointed tops and raised corners, with the form akin to a house on stilts, or a retablo (a devotional piece behind an altar).
Origin of Grain is a myth about how the barren Earth got her first grains. Labangan, a mortal, pleaded to the sky god Kabuniyan, who threw him a line to the other world for a meal of rice.
Rodel Tapaya (b. 1980, Montalban, Philippines) is a widely recognised artist in Southeast Asia today. Working in media ranging from monumental paintings to intricate sculptures and traditional craft, Tapaya creates work that synthesises folk narratives, pre-colonial historical research and contemporary reality within the framework of memory and history. Tapaya exhibits extensively across the region and won the Grand Prize of the APB Foundation Signature Art Prize in 2011. He lives and works in Bulacan, Philippines.