Maia Cruz Palileo
Frozen in a state of unresolved mystery, my paintings reveal the quiet
culture of family secrets and the shadows they cast on the present. Lush tropical
landscapes of the Philippines appear bright green and turquoise while muted
orange and brown describe kitschy 70s interiors and expansive skies of the
American Midwest. These paintings blur fact and fiction and uncover what is left
unsaid. Empty chairs are fill-ins for missing people recently departed or
anticipated to return. Details are imprecise and distorted, allowing for a loose
narrative that borders familiarity, distance, inclusion, and erasure. Evoking a
hybrid sense of place, they serve as a metaphor for migration and assimilation.
Photographs and videos of places where my family has lived are
resources for my paintings, specifically Manila, Philippines, and Chicago, Illinois.
As a child of immigrants who moved to America in search of a better life, I
adopted a hyphenated concept of home. My relativesʼ oral history painted a
carefully constructed picture of the people and country they left behind. Words
were added as embellishment and others intentionally left out. The tradition of
passing down oral history is one of improvisation, relying on memory and
imagination to fill in the gaps. The more these stories were repeated, the more
questionable they became.
My painting process mirrors this method of storytelling by editing and
censoring visual information. They are re-constructions based on a mixture of
photographic references and retrospection. Made up of layers of thin oil paint,
some areas accumulate, creating thick, palpable textures, representing parts
constantly retold. Other areas remain thin and transparent, reflecting information
withheld, bringing to light aspects of history that remain silent and untold, lost in
the transference of migration. These paintings offer glimpses into a domestic life
tinted by absence, silence, separation, and longing.