Following his incisive repertoire of historical paintings, contemporary master artist Juanito Torres presents a poignant survey of the times with his latest solo show, The New Reality: Truth is Stranger Than Fiction. Swapping bolos for shopping bags and revolutionaries for healthcare professionals, Torres’s new series of artworks don the masks of modernity, under the familiar conditions that the unprecedented coronavirus has set in train.

Through these artworks, the artist pointedly suggests a topical “what if.” If it wasn’t grief that had abated in the near 200 days since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, then it was the clamor, the initial shock that did. Restrictions have loosened. And although people may again frequent public spaces, the present reality seems unhinged, neither new nor normal, and in Torres’s skilled hands, as tenuous as a dream.

Storefront mannequins seem to come alive in a mall with masked shoppers; an entire cinema seems dedicated to two moviegoers. In private corners of a museum, a woman compares the tuft of her hair to that of a bust of Cleopatra; a man peruses a history book as a marbled Augustus looms behind him. A child alone in a classroom practices his understandings of Rizal. Somewhere, crowds of people sit apart in a harsh landscape, divided into sections by the earth itself.

Trafficking in neither fiction nor truth, Torres’s multifaceted portrayals of daily life range from solemn to satirical, jubilant to bizarre. At times, they might carry the bearings of a joke. Like the joke that has so amused the masked man mimicking the anguish of Munch’s The Scream, as he fails to recognize—or perhaps recognizes much too clearly—the structure and cause of normlessness, the root of his anomie.

Comprising a momentous solo exhibition, this latest series of works marks a shift for the artist, from a visual historian to present-day historiographer. The New Reality: Truth is Stranger Than Fiction will run from October21 to 31, 2020 at Galerie Joaquin UP Town Center located at 2/F Phase 2 U.P. Town Center, Katipunan Ave., Diliman, Quezon City.  For inquiries, contact Galerie Joaquin at +63915 414 5502 or email

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