Ernest Concepcion: War and Art

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New York-based artist Ernest Concepcion talks about how Philippine history helps shape his work

AN ARTIST SPEAKS. Ernest Concepcion returns to Manila for a series of exhibits this May.

NEW YORK, U.S.A. – “My works are experiments in photo-based and landscape portraiture. I employ concepts of war in the process of creation, charging at each painting with renderings of fantastical elements onto straightforward historical imagery, and intervening onto tranquil landscapes with drawn armies marching across the horizon.”

"Nuke" by Ernest Concepcion

Thus begins artist Ernest Concepcion on his body of work. The artist, a graduate of Fine Arts from the University of the Philippines, Diliman, has been making waves in New York since 2004. 

“My process is akin to a battle being waged on differing surfaces (paper vs. acetate), employing varied materials (pencil vs. sharpie) and divergent techniques (manga vs. photorealism) to yield unexpected combatants (Norse gods vs. Filipino cryptids vs. Nazi regiments),” says Ernest. “This springs from a child’s-view of a Philippine colonial past, in addition to an abiding obsession with Filipino, American, and Japanese visual culture, particularly comics, anime, and video games.”

"OMG Christ" by Ernest Concepcion

Ernest has participated in a number of art residencies such as the LMCC Workspace Program, the Bronx Museum of Art Artists-in-the-Marketplace (AIM) program, and the Artists Alliance Inc. Rotating Studio Program, among others. Through extensive studio time and experimentation, he eventually broke away from the formulaic style of the drawings and explored different approaches to conflict creating an entirely new series of works including painting, sculpture, and installation. 

The artist at work in his studio

With a significant body of work, Concepcion was able to exhibit both here and abroad and has had four solo shows in the last two years. In 2011 he was both a New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) finalist in the Drawing Category and a Nominee for the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant. Currently, he is a full-time artist making new works and a graphic novel based on the conflict-ridden planet of Ona to be released soon.

"Two Cleod" by Ernest Concepcion

Ernest’s new black-and-white paintings evolve from a much older series of ink drawings called The Line Wars. In this body of work, he returns to his roots as a traditional photo-based painter, but strikes out in a new direction by drawing—pun intended—from an ever-deepening well of conflict-based imagery. 


Catch Ernest Concepcion’s series of exhibits in Manila this coming May:

1) May 17, West Gallery, West Avenue, Quezon City: “PUSO + DAGA” (solo)

2) May 26, Blanc Gallery, Manila Peninsula, Makati: “All Quiet On The Eastern Front” (solo)

3) May 9, Art Informal, Greenhills, San Juan (group) –


(For updates and other information, check Ernest Concepcion’s website at: Tell us about an artist and his/her amazing artwork. Email us with subject heading ARTS & CULTURE at

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