The memories that the art of Galo Ocampo revitalizes are in accordance
with his aim of recording and communicating historic events, and his
deeply felt associations with place and location. His art is also a powerful
narrative in which the anguish of spiritual dispossession is clear.
The Flaggelants series are masterpieces of Galo Ocampo that relive the
suffering and terror of the war years fused with the religious imagery
of Lent. He created this in oil on canvas as his memoirs when he was
a guerilla and the massive slaughter he witnessed has haunted him.
World War II left a lasting mark on Ocampo’s art. The danger he went
through as a guerilla and the holocaust he witnessed would haunt him
after the war, thus the Surrealistic series on mystic sociological themes
of the 50s where the Good Friday penitent is a recurrent figure.
As in Dali’s pictures, the outlook is theatrical.
The imagery of his Flaggelants series, to which “Passion of the Christ”
belongs, evokes the suffering and terror of the war years.
Central to this painting is the figure imitating Christ, crowned with
thorns and face covered by the flaggelant’s veil, carrying a heavy, rough
hewn cross, while around him are iconic reminders of the Filipino
As in a dream, the hooded flaggelant is not in a natural setting
of country roads or city streets; instead he is in a symbolic landscape
highlighted by the heavily buttressed church.
The flaggelant symbolizes sinful human beings in search of salvation
in a ritual of purification — and water is the purifying element after the
horrors of war — or pilgrims in quest of the truth.
Accompanying the painting is the coffee table book “The Life and Times
of Galo Ocampo” by Alice B. Guillermo".
A Modernist painter, he painted works such as the “Moro Dancer”
and the “Igorot Dance". Among his paintings, the “Brown Madonna”
garnered attention in 1938 because of its depiction of Jesus and Mary
as non-Caucasian, brown Filipinos; It was also said to be “flat and
two-dimensional. ” He, along with Victorio C. Edades and Carlos V.
Francisco, painted the mural “Rising Philippines” in the lobby of the
Capitol Theater in Manila.