One of the most internationally-acclaimed Filipino artists, Manuel Ocampo (b. 1965) is known for his provocative works that present ironic commentaries and questions on personal identities, versions of culture and society. Deploying an arsenal of art-historical and literary references, religious and popular iconography, Ocampo’s complex paintings weave together various visual vocabularies, creating implied meaning through accumulation and its interrelationships. Presented to viewers in a way that remains deliberately opaque, the symbols and its formal properties that render them – their vivid colours, energetic gestures and course brushstrokes – open up a spectrum of interpretations that defies easy definitions.
Ocampo has been a vital presence in the international art scene for over twenty-five years, known for his paintings that play with religious and cultural symbolism and iconography for an incisive examination of various taboos and icons in society. Currently based in Bataan, the Philippines, he had an extended residency in California in the late 1980s and early 1990s and spent significant time working in both USA and Europe.
Ocampo represented the Philippines at the 57th Venice Biennale (2017), with a selection of paintings from the 1990s in dialogue with his recent works. The pavilion exhibition, entitled The Spectre of Comparison, was curated by Joselina Cruz, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Manila, Philippines and also featured installation works by Lani Maestro. This marked Ocampo’s third showing in Venice following the 1993 and 2001 biennials.
In 1992, he participated in Documenta IX, and presented works at Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990s at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, USA, hailed as one of the most important contemporary exhibits art historically. He also recently participated in the 2020 Sydney Biennale, Australia, curated by Brook Andrew.
Ocampo’s works are in major public collections worldwide, including: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (USA); MOCA Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (USA); the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco (USA); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (Spain); Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (Japan); Fonds National d’Art Contemporain (France), amongst many others.