Calubayan examines the contradictions found within the notion
of Filipino identity through his own endeavors as an artist. In
his artworks, he combines autobiographical material with
canonical works, dimming the distinctions between personal
and cultural histories.
For Calubayan, thoughts should amount to actions which
constitute objects, and objects should be organized into new
histories, thus eventually offering new opportunities to reestablish
a Filipino identity.
Following the trajectory of the Filipino masters during the Gilded
Age, Buen Calubayan began one of his most ambitious projects
in 2016, the exhibition Hidalgo: Towards a History from Within.
The main objective of the project was “to locate and problematize
Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo’s positioning during the 19th century
towards the turn of the century wherein many changes occurred.”
In Part 3 of this watershed exhibit, Calubayan sought to further
explore the Academism of Resurreccion Hidalgo by recreating anatomical sketches of the kind that would have been done
by the master in preparation for his works.
The catalog notes state, “Furthermore, the rigid
Academic training doesn’t allow Felix to make mistakes.
This is evident in his numerous sketches done before
doing the actual final work where supposedly all
mistakes and trials have been eliminated—making the
final work almost mechanically rendered, lacking its core
organic emblem.” To resolve this, the author states,
he also “strategically disclosed, whenever available, all
notations and reference photos of my paintings to allow
comparison and identify mistakes—finally rendering
failures as the finishing touches needed to make the
works unfinished again, bringing back its true potential
for further growth and improvement.”
Thus these sketches form an integral part of the narrative of
the pivotal Hidalgo exhibit.