by Alice Guillermo
Over the last thirty years, Duddley Diaz has created a powerful body of work that defies categorization, with sculptures that challenge notions of identity, sexuality, culture, and history. Departing from the impersonal and rationalist aesthetic of academic art, his work daringly combines the values of classical Renaissance sculpture with atavistic sources of inspiration in the figures of ancient mythology and Christian liturgical art. Goddesses, owls, and angels populate his cosmology, hewn from clay and terracotta, wood, cast bronze, brass, silver, and oxbone.
His unique artistic cosmology has gifted us with characters and figures that serve as vessels of sacred and profound messages. This book follows Diaz’s development from his beginnings as a child prodigy, fashioning santos from sardine cans, to the monumental San Lorenzo Ruiz and enthroned goddesses of his maturity, culminating with his masterwork Pinoy Creed.
In the context of contemporary sculpture, Diaz has unsettled the notion of religion in the largely Catholic culture in the Philippines, and has profoundly probed the intricacies of wood and sculpture in his portrayal of the human and the mythology of its becoming, universally and also ethically, in what may well be a postcolonial milieu. This ensemble of preoccupations and sentiments will surely pave vast constellations for the artist as he seeks more trails for his vision in the future. The artist is envoy and the art is herald.
—Patrick D. Flores, curator, UP Jorge B. Vargas Museum