There are specific moments in a person’s life that, in one way or another, will serve as catalysts – that which will prompt a decision from the individual to either change or to remain the same. Those moments are what we call “transitions”. These transitions may prompt somebody to suspend judgment, let go of previously held ideals, feel overwhelming emotions that are unpredictable and raw.
It is surprising for me to realize that while our exhibit was titled Transitions, that I could have undergone the same familiar experience of change again, in the process of making my art.
I’ve often told my partner that this exhibit would be one of those events that will determine what kind of person I wish to be in the future; whether or not I’d brave the unpredictable world of the studio artist, or be more focused on the life that is all too familiar to me will have to depend on what happens on exhibit night. Little did I know that even days prior to the opening night, I’ve slowly been led to recognize that I should not disregard a dream that I’ve long held since childhood – which was to become a painter.
At the start of 2010, I jokingly said that I’d hold my first exhibit at the end of the year. If it were true that the world could conspire with a person’s plans or not, it seemed serendipitous to have come across two artists who had planned for the same thing. I’m talking about multimedia artist, Bea Lapa; and animator and designer, Cris Dumlao. After an hour and a half’s worth of chattering in a newly opened tea place in BF, we decided to push through with our plans of coming up with a group show.
It took us about a month of pitching our idea to several galleries in Metro Manila to find a suitable place to hold our exhibit. LRI Design Plaza is known to feature up and coming and non-traditional artists, and was the perfect place to feature our works which were not only diverse in style and treatment, but also in interpretation.
While I initially planned to create lenticular paintings, which I thought best represented my knowledge of multimedia and traditional arts, I eventually decided that given the limited time that we had to prepare for the show, I would stick to what I knew best – painting. Bea Lapa decided to merge the digital and traditional techniques in art; thereby creating graphic art mounted on wood using acrylic transfer. Cris Dumlao, meanwhile, chose to explore the idea of transitions by creating paper mosaics of her transportation tickets collected from her trip in Vancouver.
Knowing that it has been 5 years since I last held a paintbrush, I wasn’t very confident about starting with my first painting. Moreso, I was ridden with much insecurity, thinking that I had to exhibit alongside two well respected educators and artists who have received further training and recognition in the field of arts. What I had to depend on were simply 18 units of Fine Arts courses and pure will – which were hopefully enough to allow me to create something worth viewing.
Alas, after 3 weeks of solitary confinement with 4 canvases, my dependable paint brushes, several paint tubes, and much encouragement from my partner, I was able to overcome the agony that came with fear and insecurity, and poor lighting, and was able to finish my final painting 2 nights prior to the exhibit. I must likewise give thanks to our curator, Elvert Dela Cruz Banares, who, through his encouragement, pushed me to continue painting.
The experience was no less challenging for my peers – who also, at one point, questioned their worth and credibility as artists and almost gave up entirely on the process just a few days before the show.
Was it worth it? I’d say yes. It was completely fulfilling to see guests coming inside the gallery, cheering us on for a job well done. It was worth it to see friends and colleagues feeling connected to my work, as if I’ve created the painting for them.
It has always been my objective as an artist to create works that are relatable yet still come out new to the viewer – paintings that are still capable of bringing out new ideas and emotions without having to dictate or impose a message. I’m glad that the exhibit has allowed me to do this.
A while ago I had mentioned that this event would determine what I would choose to be in the future. Whether or not the path of a studio artist is clear and set for me, I see myself welcoming the idea of having another exhibit with a fellow artist.