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  • Philippine Arts Council

Noli Me Tangere

The Filipino in Me - Insights into Living Heritage

Entry by Harvey Nichol. Calgary, Alberta


Noli Me Tangere / Touch Me Not

16" x 20" (aerosol & acrylic on canvas, resin)

“What is the use of independence, if the slaves of today, will be the tyrants of tomorrow.”

I titled this painting “Noli Me Tangere” based on a novel by Filipino political activist and author Jose Rizal, published in 1887. The book, written in Spanish, is a sweeping and passionate unmasking of the brutality and corruption of Spanish rule in the Philippines (1565–1898).

In the novel’s dedication, Rizal explains that there was once a type of cancer so terrible that the sufferer could not bear to be touched, and the disease was thus called noli me tangere (Latin: “Touch me not”). He believed that the homeland was similarly afflicted.

The novel offers both a panoramic view of every level of society in the Philippines of the time and droll satire. Its description of the cruelty of Spanish rule was a catalyst for the revolutionary movement for independence in the country.

Rizal was arrested and subjected to a mock trial in Manila by the authorities although he had nothing to do with the revolution. Found guilty, he was shot at dawn on December 30, 1896.

Seeing the current state of the Philippines I always wonder, was it all worth it? Dying for the motherland? The never ending corruption, struggle and injustices that Rizal lived through and died for is still happening to this day.

When will it be over? Will it be over?

About the Artist

Harvey Nichol is a first-generation immigrant and multidisciplinary artist who is currently pursuing a BFA at Alberta University of the Arts, majoring in Sculpture and minoring in printmaking.

His work embodies elements of various art movements such as neo-expressionism, social realism (in the Philippines), street and folk art which he married to create his version, which he coined as “Street Folk Expressionist Art.”

Harvey moves between different art-making practices such as painting, sculptures, clothing design & storytelling. Inspired by his life experiences as an immigrant, becoming homeless as a youth, and living through the foster system, he channels all of this through visual auto ethnography (self-reflection exploring personal experience and connecting it to a wider cultural, political, and social meanings and understandings.) along with elements of folklore and mythologies and socio-political commentary on today's world.

For more info on Harvey -


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