Is there a specific theme that unites the paintings shown in 856G Gallery?
The exhibit is not planned discursively. There is no gran narrative the unites the paintings thematically. Nonetheless, if we talk about what they might have in common, it's clear that they are all painted on wrappers/packaging that you can easily find in the Philippines of products that everyone might be familiar with and have their own personal stories of childhood or other subjective contexts that they can attach like Ovaltine chocolate drink, Close Up toothpaste, Ferna baking soda, White Rabbit candies, Curly Tops chocolates, Loaded chips, etc.
As an artist I also try to avoid enclosing myself to just focusing on specific themes. In that manner it the process becomes open. This goes without saying that I divulge personal narratives into my work; I prefer to be analytical and not confessional, this allows the artwork to be universal. Even when I tackle specific timely events I am consciously aware not being stuck in the nowness of it, instead allowing the passage of time as part of the reading of the work. Sometimes, being caught up in the timeliness of an event can lead to merely illustrating it.
The title of the show Banda Sonora Tropical, what does it mean?
It's a Spanish term which literally translates to Tropical Soundtrack. In lot of ways my part of my aesthetic research evolves around the notion of the tropical, but the show doesn't force you to think about that. With this title I wanted the public to get into the energy, the mindset of the artworks, think of it this way, when you commute, cook, shower, work out, you put on that playlist and you focus on the task; I'd like the public to think of each painting as a possible song, not to be understood, but to give off that energy.
Are these paintings part of a bigger series?
Not necessarily a series that has a finality, but categorically part of a way of working. I have different "series" ongoing because it's a way for me to categorize certain formal experiments I do or else I'd go insane. he he he
Why use tarpaulin? How did this process come about?
In a way it came by accident I suppose. I first started painting on tarp right after the 2016 Philippine elections. Tarpaulin is a very common material in the Philippines and it was just there, so I thought why not use it. I want to push the understanding of what painting can be, supposed to what it is. In the Philippines where there is a strong tradition of the medium, it's even more challenging both formally and ideologically. But, this is part of the fun. Once you start experimenting, you start asking more questions and resolving issues that come along the way. I work both with tarpaulin that I get directly from the streets and printing images that I want to use.
In your thought process, do you consciously carry the burden of art history?
Which art history? This is a tricky question. I mean, yes, the global standard and the playing field is dictated by western art historical cannons. Tricky, because also, both as a Spaniard and as a Filipino, this is not a burden, but forms part of my context. Besides, cannons have to be challenged. Although, somehow, tricky, because living in the Philippines frees me from this as well. My context, especially living in Negros island, allows me that freedom as well, both as a conscious act and contextually. Consciously, because in Europe I feel that there is this burden and that is also why I wanted to live back in the Philippines. Contextually, I am surrounded by a hyper-creative and exciting social network and environment that has nothing to do with people who are part of the art system. I just need to step out of my studio and it's there. As simple as how my neighbor ties knots onto the rope that he hangs to dry clothes, which he does to space out the hangers so that the clothes don't end up lumped together. The yearly parades and festivals that happen in Dumaguete and Bacolod wherein people dress up in costumes made of materials that are sourced locally that end up in combinations that I would have never thought of. Surrounded by this, everyday I am constantly reminded of the endless possibilities and it broadens my idea of what I can do. This is important, very important because precisely, this whole context is the core of my ethos. It goes beyond zeitgeist which can, in a way, be trapped in the notion of "timeliness" but this context, this creative philosophy that people around me have innately, is liberating.
Do the patterns you paint over the images signify something?
Not necessarily. One of the conscious decisions I make in painting the patterns is the idea of ornamentation and the decorative. This is in a way, I'd like to think, somehow reflects on the chaotic, horror vaccui system that makes up this exciting and vibrant structure in all manners of engaging with Filipino life. Also, in the tropics, especially where I live in the rural region where you can experience nature in diverse forms like the twin lakes up the mountain in San Jose, the abundant marine life surrounding Apo island or even seeing a patch of uncared for patch of land in the rural-urban area, it's evident how nature is this joyous over-growth of different flora and fauna chaotically co-existing with each other. Perhaps it's also a rebellion towards that global trend of formalism, concept-driven and minimal aesthetics with grand discursive narratives that dominate the artscape. I wanted to paint flowers and stereotypically decorative motifs that do not preach. I don't want my viewer to be "schooled" in art. The public is intelligent and diverse and carries with him a baggage of perceptual tools, depending on his engagement with the work, can go further, deeper into the artwork, but is not compelled to necessarily understand what it means.