MAIA CRUZ PALILEO: 5 Must-See Figurative Exhibitions Exploring Our Turbulent Times

Paul Laster, Galerie, March 17, 2021

An artist of Southeast Asian descent, Maia Cruz Palileo became interested in mining her family history after recreating her immigrant grandparents’ living room for an art installation during college. Digging deeper into her ancestors’ photo albums and researching cultural archives documenting her Filipino heritage, she uncovered the unsettling colonial history between and U.S. and the Philippines. In this new exhibition at Monique Meloche, Palileo uses painting to reconstruct visual tales in a way that’s similar to how oral histories are passed down, reclaiming her subjects from their colonialist histories and reanimating them with her new narratives. The Answer is the Waves of the Sea is an amalgamation of archive images, where a universe of flora and fauna is caught in a semi-circle. Partially painted with a palette knife, its layers of colors boldly capture the spirit of the tropics. Towards the Bay Shores Where Reeds Grow is based on her great grandfather’s story of an accidental shooting, but by her morphing of memories the focal point is now drawn from a photo of her uncle listening to his radio on the beach.