Dalena began work on the Quiapo series in 1979 but he has not yet exhausted the material. Dalena’s Quiapo is city of tough, working class people, a city of grit and disagreeable ennui. Human life is absorbed, almost invisible, into the movement of the fabric of the city. While the famous “rebulto” is not shown, this painting most likely depicts the Feast of the Black Nazarene, as implied by the title, “Lubid” and the vertical straight-line action of the figures themselves. We see Dalena depicting, as he often did, the teeming multiplicity of human shapes and the complexity of interactions in a representation of urban cum spiritual struggle. In its feel teeming with movement it takes a bow to the city paintings of the German Expressionists in the early twentieth century.
The artist presents a pictorial space covered with numerous figures in seemingly inexhaustible stances, attitudes, and gestures. Individually, despite their number, the figures are drawn with consummate suppleness mastery of abbreviated form, conveying continual movement. Dalena’s oeuvre oscilla drama. The figures are less individualized than in, say, a conventional social realist painting. They seem like ants or sometimes like maggots.
Beneath this layer of spiritual reportage, however, the animation of the image descends into nightmare: it conveys in the actions of people trapped in futile and repetitive actions a sense of “damnation.”