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Analog Childhood Is Playful in its Seriousness

Above:

Wide Eyed Weekend Warrior
36 x 24
Acrylic on Canvas

Though buoyant and bright, Toym Imao’s latest exhibition takes stock of dire and momentous events in Philippine history.

“Analog Childhood,” Toym Imao’s third solo exhibition at Art Lounge Manila, follows the tradition of his earlier works—art that engages, questions, and inspires; art that conveys a deep love for the motherland; and art as the personification of all things he considers good in our history, culture, and nation. 

Comprising over forty tabletop sculptures and paintings, Imao’s works are inspired by his childhood recollection of censorship. Then, his favorite super robot cartoons—Voltes V, Daimos, and Mazinger Z, among others—were put off the air for their alleged negative influence toward the youth.

“Analog Childhood,” with its colorful, cheerful, and seemingly “safe” aesthetics, would be what a children’s book made by Imao would look like, as said by the artist himself. Within these playful images lie the experience of authoritarianism and a child’s imaginative attempts to create a triumphant story of good over evil. 

Known mostly for his large-scale public art, Imao’s work follows the tradition of artists like Guillermo Tolentino, Napoleon Abueva, and Eduardo Castrillo—artists who tap the narratives of nationalism for their public monuments.

His large-scale works are a personal crusade since he returned to the Philippines from his Fulbright scholarship in 2012.  They are a reminder of the threats that loom over Philippine culture, nation, and society.  He engages with civil society institutions to mount his public installations whenever he believes there is a threat to freedom, our values, or our collective memory as Filipinos. 

And in this age of disinformation, he has been active, not only in mounting these public installations, but also on social media to show his love for the motherland. With recent threats to the integrity of our history, the exhibit is a timely attempt at taking stock of the events that mark our time.

Ready Player Juan
48 x 36
Acrylic on Canvas

As Imao says: “I hope that my artist-friends are sensitive about what is happening here and around the world. Unfortunately, we are now in the front row in the battle for truth in this era of fake news.  We can no longer work independently in the confines of our studios.  At some point, we have to think about what is happening. We will have to stand up and be heard.  When we acknowledge our togetherness, we can protect our fellow artists.  Let us all think about what is strong and beautiful about being Filipino.”


“Analog Childhood” by Toym Imao will be on view until September 22, 2022. Art Lounge Manila is located at The Podium, GF, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong, Metro Manila. For more information, visit the Art Lounge Manila website. You may also check their social media pages on Facebook and Instagram for more details.