Art for the Filipino artist Santiago Bose is an integral part of any society, yet at the same time it is a profoundly personal experience. A central figure in the contemporary Filipino art world, he has inspired numerous young artists to be more agressive in their art practice as they search for their identity in an increasingly complex world.
...The designation of Anting-anting Maker can be readily understood in the light of Bose's work. His art practice is based on the assumption that the work is not a painted illusion on a surface but a concrete substance which undergoes the hectic process of becoming a charged material sign capable of holding within itself the tensions of conflicting forces. For Filipino society is particularly rife with contradictions on many levels: the indigenous versus the colonial, anito worship versus Catholicism, dominant lowland interests versus marginalized ethnic interests. And, as Bose brings out in his works, neo-colonial relationships are a continuing reality, even as globalization intensifies inequitable power relations between rich and poor countries.
Bose brings out these political tensions not only in terms of imagery but in the active approach to the material and ground which is molded, scarified, fired, layered, and variously stressed with scratches, erasures, scribbles, and burns in a highly material kind of semiotics. His multi-layered works can be compared to a palimpsest which intimates at half-effaced figures, symbols, and motifs that belong to the "invisible culture." Bose like a clairvoyant renders these visible in the cracks and fissures of peeling walls where hitherto suppressed and effaced human figures may suddenly materialize from their entombment. There is in his imagery a higher level of being, unbound by gravity, where disembodied figures from folk amulets hover like ubiquitous presences more felt than seen...
...For Santiago Bose, organizing artists is a vital part of his artistic practice and for this he places much value in the continued survival of the Baguio Arts Guild. For him it is crucial that young artists regard art as a vital part of society in the process of change. "It would be regrettable if the many talented young artists of the Cordillera groups fall into the trap of commercialism, in the same way that indigenous artifacts are made to cater to tourism," he says. "In the Philippines we cannot have the luxury of frivolities, but as artists we have to make art that expresses our concerns, needs and aspirations and participate actively in the ongoing struggle for change, otherwise, all that we have cherished as part of our deepest selves will be irretrievably lost and art itself will become empty of meaning."