Jared Yokte: The Artist as Contrarian


The recent third solo exhibition At the Rear There is Something Contrary by Jared Yokte is one long loud sermon. His distinct unskinned images haunt us in our thoughts even after the pieces have been taken down from the walls of blanc Gallery. Mind you it is not exactly a solitary preach by a priest, pastor or what have you. More inclined to that night the adolescent you went home beyond curfew time and your parents were stubbornly waiting as you opened the house lights. Yes this exhibit is that bad that it is so good. Worse, it alters your mindset in looking at contemporary paintings these days.

At the Rear There is Something Contrary

Having been born and bred in Davao City, educated in Vigan and now based in Tarlac Yokte sizzles as the quintessential artist to finely execute these epiphanies. Having been exposed to different variants of local culture from southern to northern Philippines Yokte has somehow imbibed and could comment on that customary sense of we got used to yet not supposedly believing in.

His interiors as backdrops are from his humble abode reflect the kind of exuberant yet bland society we have ever since existed. Not invited guests rather we are like peeping neighbors to one’s private tableau as everything happens indoors. It is at home where much of what we know happens even the greater war is waged here—the family.

Theory of Nonsense 1

Our elders inculcate in us that success emanates in being affluent more so if one is working abroad. One gets educated to prepare for the day he boards a ship or a plane to cross to the greener pastures. As clannish as we can be, we look after siblings after us, forced to fend for their schooling, whereas we tend to neglect even our own personal happiness. These stereo-type myths have bothered and even disturbed the peace in Yokte’s sensibilities. Even superstitious beliefs, superfluous as they are, are discussed within this realm. Concepts like sukob, pagpag, pasma or sleeping while your hair is wet could make you go blind or crazy. Yokte proposes not in anger but even better he gracefully throws back at you his actuation in his linear and painterly strokes combined. The title piece, At the Rear There is Something Contrary, sees us involved in every movement as his images compose themselves and somewhat paused on canvas. They circle in round formation as the cycle called life rotates.

Theory of Nonsense 2

Theory of Nonsense Series symbolically implodes deeper this thesis in Yokte’s pieces. Composition is Yokte’s stronger elements as he is a master in harmonizing his hues. Personages lie afloat living in the quagmire we deserve. We, the viewer should not be enticed in these time-drawn myths. Inverted umbrellas reveal the reverse reasoning as we are attuned to. Resulting into the kind of broken dreams we are forced by circumstance to accept these false fatuity. As in these paintings, it is as grim as the night that has befallen and an even darker interior void of light. Yokte maybe an animal lover as it seems but these domestic creatures are no different from the kind of beings we have become, or been relegated to.

There is poetry in rendering his cast of characters. A headless man may seem a wounded negation of people eaten by the kind of heartlessness that emanates from our concurrence to what we thought all along as truth. Have we become the kind of children our parents have warned us to be? Only artists like Yokte can create such dormant scenes that feed on life’s imperfections done beautifully. As he investigates into our human condition what he unravels like secrets to a code yields our               uniqueness as it is ironically present in all of us.

When the Cat Fell Out

When the Cat Fell Out debunks that what we chose to blindly submit. Black cats represent impending bad luck whereas a cat can just be born black. Maybe Yokte’s works are even the bigger contrary to what is evidently contemporary art—white canvases featuring personalities as smiling farmers, mother and child, even coy fish on the pond. The presence of black mud-like paint is not to blot the picture but a pun right smack as intended. Being in Tarlac provides his with a vantage point–a way of seeing. He is far yet inside the art scene. Even he can be his own sordid critic.


One can however never get over viewing a Yokte piece. One is unmindful of the time as he was doing them. The gestalt effect that his canvases are bigger than what and how his symbolism applies. At a glance, macabre as it is, each is like rich thick moist chocolate cake with sprinkles for everyone to partake. Such as Counterpole which is a continuing reminder of the ups and downs of life reminiscent of the circus act as in his last show, Mabulaklaking Angkan. Compared to this present crop, whatever these pieces lack in humor accessibility and accessories Yokte made up with much bravura and immensely finer craft–more mature brushstrokes and a serious take on our contemporary culture. I would not be surprised if these solitary creatures will be ready to come closer and bite back at us in his next show.