Manuel Ocampo (b. 1965 Philippines) currently lives and works in Manila, Philippines and in Luxembourg. Ocampo has been a vital presence on the international art scene for over twenty years and is now the most internationally active contemporary artist from the Philippines.
Ocampo’s first solo show, which took place in Los Angeles in 1988, set the stage for a rapid rise to international prominence.
By the early 1990s, his reputation was firmly established, with inclusion in two of the most important European art events, Documenta IX (1992) and the Venice Biennale (1993). Also in the early 1990s, he participated in the legendary exhibition Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990s at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1992).
Ocampo is known for fearlessly tackling the taboos and cherished icons of society and of the art world itself. During the 1990s, he was noted for his bold use of a highly charged iconography that combined Catholic imagery with motifs associated with racial and political oppression, creating works that make powerful, often conflicted, statements about the vicissitudes of personal and group identities. His works illustrate, often quite graphically, the psychic wounds that cut deep into the body of contemporary society. They translate the visceral force of Spanish Catholic art, with its bleeding Christs and tortured saints, into our postmodern, more secular era of doubt, uncertainty, and instability.
Of late, his works have featured more mysterious yet emotionally charged motifs that evoke an inner world of haunting visions and nightmares. Ocampo’s earlier fascination with religious symbols, now reappear alongside some of his more personal, idiosyncratic motifs, such as teeth, bones, and fetuses. The subdued palette of greys, blacks, and whites seen in so many of these works heightens the feeling that we are looking into a nocturnal dream world, one that we can see only obscurely, as if through a veil. It is a world that invites the viewer to enter, but at his own risk, offering no comfort, but perhaps some promise of redemption.
Manuel Ocampo is represented in the following museums and public collections:
MOCA Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Oakland Museum, California
Laguna Art Museum, California
The Contemporary Museum, Hawaii
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
MNCARS Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid
MEIAC Museo Extremeno e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporaneo, Badajoz
IVAM Institut Valencia d’Art Modern, Valencia
CAAM Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno, Canary Islands
Sintra Museu de Arte Moderna, Lisbon
Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris
Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan
MUDAM Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg
Frac Languedoc-Roussillon, Montpellier
Frac Île-de-France, Le Plateau, Paris
Museo Berado, Lissabon