“Never Ending Nightmares of Crocodiles and Rabid Dogs”
Medium: Plaster of paris
The quadtych tile carving seeks to address the presence and role of “colonialism” during two historical events: the arrival of Spain in the Philippines and the Diliman Commune.
The main inspiration for the piece was Jose Rizal’s terracotta sculpture “Mother’s Revenge.” Rizal’s work depicts a tense scene of a mother dog helplessly trying to rescue her pup from a crocodile – a morbid scenario of a predator targeting its prey. It mirrors the hardships that all Filipinos endured during the Spanish colonial period. In Rizal’s work, the crocodile represents the “Spaniards”, while the two dogs both represented Filipinos. Because of this, the artist also decided to represent the coming of the Spaniards – an “external” form of colonialism – as crocodiles that are eager to “bite”.
The piece also incorporates some religious iconography, such as a crucifix and a halo, in order to allude to the influence of the Spaniards and all the violence that transpired because of their goal of “propagating” their religion. The concept of “martyrs” was also incorporated in order to represent the lives that were lost and sacrificed for the sake of the country’s freedom. The body nailed on the crucifix was intentionally left vague in order to symbolize everyone who died in their quest for social reform. The inscription on top of the crucifix, “IALTV”, represents the Latin saying: “In absentia lucis, Tenebrae vincunt.” or “In the absence of light, darkness prevails.”
Unfortunately, the effects of colonialism can still be felt even in present day Philippines. The very title of the artwork alludes to the fact that Filipinos are still victims of both external and internal colonialism. It’s as if the Spaniards never really left, and Filipinos are still stuck in a “never-ending nightmare.”
“An artist can show things that other people are terrified of expressing.”
Kyle Labayan, a BFA Art Education student from the U.P. College of Fine Arts, seek to explore the rather chaotic emotions that humans tend to suppress and hide. An avid sculptor, his works mostly represent themes of death, grief, trauma, and regret.
As he focuses on expressing human emotions, he also draws inspiration from both positive and negative feelings and experiences. As a highly empathetic person, Kyle draws on the vast range of emotions he absorbs from his own world, and then channels them into his works.