Arce’s Latest Solo Art Exhibition Fuses Art and Architecture

A Groundbreaking Exhibit: Arce’s Latest Solo Art Exhibition Fuses Contemporary Art and Architecture

December 16, 2022



Rick Formalejo

Intramuros played a crucial role during the Spanish occupation and is an important part of Philippine history. Today, it is one of the most popular destinations in Manila for both tourists and locals who want to learn about the rich story of the walled city. From stone paved roads to preserved old architecture, walking within its walls gives you glimpses of the past. 

Whether or not you come to Intramuros to learn about history, the city is a constant source of inspiration for many artists. Filipino contemporary artist Arce, for example, had visited the once political and military seat of power in Manila. During each visit, he spent long hours studying and recording the textures of the walls and pavements, the shapes of the pillars and light posts, the intricacies of the religious statues’ dresses and robes, and the outburst of greens and lichens that have hidden some of its scars. 

With six months to prepare, Arce showcased his latest artworks in a groundbreaking art exhibition entitled “ROPED: The Reflections of Our Past, The Enlightenment of Our Destiny” which ran from December 10 to 13, 2022 at the Almacenes Reales at Fort Santiago, Intramuros in collaboration with Art Underground Manila. The historical city was a perfect venue for the young artist’s works as it is also a reflection of the past.

On the opening day, the event was packed with celebrities, art collectors, and art enthusiasts alike. Everyone was amazed with the art exhibition held at one of the surviving structures in Fort Santiago which was carefully cleaned up to stage Arce’s works. Each piece was placed strategically in the space to effectively tell the story.

In his collection, Arce placed antiquated and intricate mirror frames, individually and laboriously crafted by hand, at the center of each canvas—broken or whole—to visually represent the past. He layered each frame with deconstructed and folded canvases to create moving elements, like people who walk on the walled city’s famous cobblestones. 

Using thick, textured paints in muted contemporary palettes, he created silhouettes and imageries that reminisce the glories that were built and protected by the walls and the dark past that ruined each, from human fingerprints to religious symbolisms. 

His labyrinthine painting, when seen from afar, is almost a remembrance map of a past almost forgotten as well as an open invitation to help creatively understand how our past shaped us and how it can build us, instead of hurt and divide us.


Arce (b. 1980) is a graduate of the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Fine Arts. His view of distortion is reflected through his unconventional use of media and an experimental technique that he created. Arce always works with what occupies his present state of mind which drives him to deal with his myriad of emotions. Arce always works with what occupies his present state of mind, as it drives him to deal with his myriad of emotions. He looks for different perspectives as he deconstructs, twists, melts, and works beyond time. He listens to his inner force understanding when to stop and pause for prayer, that is when he freezes that particular moment through his body of works – and subsequently, achieves inner peace.

Photos Courtesy of Art Underground

Special thanks to Prim Paypon of The Annext

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