Maia Cruz Palileo’s solo show weaves personal background with colonial history of Philippines

Letha Ch’ien, San Francisco Chronicle, September 23, 2021

The personal is political. But it’s still personal. In “Maia Cruz Palileo: Long Kwento,” the New York Filipino American multidisciplinary artist layers family oral histories with archival research on the colonial history of the Philippines. It invites the visitor to explore alongside Palileo the question of what we remember and what we can’t — the paradoxical memory of remembering what we don’t remember.


The exhibit at the CCA Wattis Institute in San Francisco, curated by Kim Nguyen, is Palileo’s first West Coast solo show. On view through Dec. 4, all 11 gouache and oil paintings, five graphite rubbings, and three painted sculptures were created for this show.


The Wattis Institute, a nonprofit contemporary art center, invites artists to imagine work outside the constraints of a commercial gallery setting. Working a year longer than expected due to pandemic delays, Palileo, who uses gender-neutral pronouns, took the opportunity to create larger-scale sculpture and to loosen their brushwork into lush, high-keyed dancing colors. The artwork revisits themes of cultural memory complicated by time, distance and politics, but with new ease and comfort with ambiguity.

Maia Cruz Palileo, “Long Kwento,” 2021; installation view, CCA Wattis Institute.Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche GalleryPhoto: Impart Photography

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