Manuel Ocampo’s Imperial Slap puts the finger into the postcolonial wound. But what comes around like a grotesque blasphemy is in fact a brilliant appropriation of art historical positions that opens up multi layered narratives through the combination with quotes from pop- and satire culture.
A closer look onto the green canvas in the main room reveals not only the satiric illustration of the poem The White Man’s Burden by Rudyard Kipling but also a theosophical circle drawn by Balikbayan boxes that are used by Philippine migrants to send back goods to their loved ones at home. The little men floating through the image like ghosts allude to the caricatures drawn by Ed Reinhardt at the time to mock the achievement of abstract modernism. Next to it on a white ground you see president William McKinley baptizing a screaming Philippine child while Puerto Rico and Cuba, the two figures in the back, are eagerly trying on the American flag to climb the winner’s rostrum of the best colony. The scenery is surrounded by suprematist forms that turn the canvas into a playing card. The imagery comments each other and thereby lays traces between supposed main- and subplots. In this way allegories from the œuvre of Martin Kippenberger, Francis Picabia, Francisco de Goya, Paul Klee and Kasimir Malewitsch are deployed as well as characters from Disney movies or the Heavy Metal scene. The interpretive depth from the first thing you recognize to the multilayered connotations of each image seems endless.
Manuel Ocampo’s way from the Philippines over California to Seville and back is often described as nomadic to make his multicultural iconography more graspable. Galerie Bärbel Grässlin shows with Tortas Imperiales the fifth exhibition by Manuel Ocampo, who previously took part in the 49th and 57th Venice Biennale as well as in the documenta IX in Kassel.