Using Repurposed Materials, Bernardo Pacquing’s Paintings Are Experiments in Regeneration
Inspired by the minutiae of urban existence, the work of Filipino mixed-media artist Bernardo Pacquing tends to be a reflection of his life and an extension of his current fixations. This certainly holds true for his solo show of paintings and sculpture, “Half Full,” his first at Silverlens gallery in Manila.
While helping his son with a school project on hydroponics, Pacquing became fascinated with the process of cultivating plants in water, without soil. “The water flowing, the roots sprouting out of the cup, the layering of growing media, and the only thing separating them in the bucket is air. It all looks seemingly incomplete,” Pacquing recently told Artsy.
The resulting series of large-scale paintings depict botanical abstractions named after the edible plants and vegetables they represent. It is a departure of sorts from Pacquing’s past works, which have tended towards pure gestural abstraction. Here, he experiments with the limitations of mixed media by layering materials to construct loosely representational forms. On raw canvas, Pacquing applies oil paint like a building material, mixing it with roof paint, rubber paint, contact cement, resin, and other non-traditional binders, adding texture to his surfaces with these everyday household supplies. “My abstractions exude a rawness, a richness of texture, messy with child-like scribbles,” he says.
“These paintings fully express Bernardo’s bravado as a sculptor—ripping and slitting the painted canvas, then mending and rebuilding them with resin, paint, string and wood,” says Rachel Rillo, co-owner of Silverlens. “With the floor pieces, he creates pillar-like forms that muddle their actual physical components. Using discarded construction materials such as foundations (steel coils, cement) with soft, light materials (foam, cardboard), he makes the foam feel like rock and the steel like clouds,” she continued. These sculptural forms shoot up from the gallery’s floor like 3-D representations of organic growth.
Repurposing everyday materials is not entirely new for Pacquing, who once created a 16-by-32-foot sculpture made entirely of detritus salvaged from the renovation of the old home that he transformed into his studio.
“I entitled this show ‘Half Full’ because, for me, it embodies the idea of absoluteness in the incomplete, the sublime in imperfection, rawness, and simplicity, the undying of the ephemeral and the beauty of impurity,” says Pacquing.