J. Karl Roque, Jr.





orn in Iligan City (with Bulacan roots) in November 28, 1960, J. Karl P. Roque, Jr. is a Fine Arts graduate of the University of the Philippines, Cebu College. A consistent awardee of the school's annual art competition (1979-1987), Karl later become a Fine Arts professor while maintaining the status of a full-time painter.

As an artist, Karl's works veered away from the standardized world of traditional painting. While exploiting the graphic formalism of realistic renditions the artist associates them to the environs of pure pictorial elements, an abstraction, or creative dimensional play between the realms of perceiving a being and what is about to become.

Along the line of contemporary expressions, the artist's preferred medium is oil though he explored on various unconventional media. Karl's paintings have a uniqueness of its own. His minimal approach to a given subject, or even the collage works of indigenous materials, are by themselves subjectively loaded with contrasting nuances, symbolical projections and often totemic in character. More often, his objects convey an image of an icon whose apparition seems to evoke a spell of some portentous elements against its own hostile environment. A curse of the primitives? Nevertheless, his works are keenly sparing as to its indulgence of the esoteric, or to a mere visual punning of the incogrous, bizarre and dislocated imageries. Those visual associations seem to reflect its own fate before consuming itself to the royal road of the Unconscious. So instead of living exclusively on the night world of the mind, his works emerged in wakeful presence of our time's social and ecological problems. The spirit of conservation is made manifest through recurring themes of ethnic images juxtaposed by the predatory landscape of technology and its threatend ecosystem.

As a Cebu-based artist, Karl's aesthetic is a reminder that art is not and cannot be confined to established canons of beauty, a fact that we often attribute so comfortably to the cultural world. An artist has a social and intellectual role and, if need be, assume a critical approach to society.

Karl P. Roque has a number of art exhibits around the country. Moreover, looking at his works would leave one to find a certain kinship of the artist's dual influence: if Surrealism's use for symbolic language denotes on that soul-searching notion to salvage a lost self, then, likewise, Social Realism is also the equivalent moral imperative of saving something from its extinction. Spiritual enlightenment coupled with a recognition of the earth's vulnerability to man's reckless ways is definitely among the major concerns of the modern man's existence.