Cross-Cultural Historical Perspectives With a Side of Magical Realism: A Review of Maia Cruz Palileo’s ‘Days Later, Down

Vasia Rigou, Newcity Art, May 17, 2023

Strange and wonderful flora and fauna illustrated in a dark palette clash against the shade becoming unexpectedly brighter. Silhouettes of animals and people stare at you deeply through the canvas. Dark greens, deep purples and vast whites make for a sublime experience. “Days Later, Down River” offers a glimpse into Maia Cruz Palileo’s Filipino American heritage in the form of vividly colored paintings and ceramic sculptures. In a mashup of memory and imagination, family photographs and oral histories are recontextualized. Between the cultural and the historical, Palileo’s work is best described in the words of compatriot writer and journalist Nick Joaquin as having a “tropical gothic” aesthetic. The juxtaposition between the real and the unreal attests to that. But as the artist allows the fantastical to slip into the everyday in such a matter-of-fact way, magical realism comes to mind.


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