Getting Into Shoe Art

Early last May, I was commissioned to paint a pair of canvas shoes for Bensimon’s launch in the Philippines. Now, I am new to this shoe art thing and upon learning that a basic pair of Bennies costs around Php 2500, I decided to practice first on a cheap pair of Advan sneakers. Couldn’t risk ruining the ones I was to design. So here’s how my “practice pair” turned out.
shoes_practice

For the actual pair of Bensimons I painted on, I was given a few specifications by the organizers: (1) that the design should be wholesome, so I was not allowed to place my usual skulls and “hints of gore and self-mutilation” — I love the fact that they do know my work; but mainly, (2) that it should reflect the stylish, on-the-go Parisian chic feel of the brand. So sticking to a color scheme of pink, black, and red, here’s what I came up with.
IMG_7724(min) bensimon_katpallon1 bensimon_katpallon2 bensimon_katpallon3 bensimon_katpallon4 bensimon_katpallon5

The launch was held at The Atrium in Enderun Colleges last June 11. The venue was prettily decorated to look like a French cafe with the adjoining room made to resemble a street in Paris lined with mini bazaars, flower shops, and an art gallery where the custom-designed shoes were displayed. Mine came with a small painting to match the shoe art. I kept the design feminine and elegant. No skulls; just roses, ribbons, and stripes.

Albeit the fabric being too soft for painting, designing the Bennies was a fun experience. I also have to note that the launch got me started wearing canvas shoes — a grape-colored pair of tennis lacets I was given for free that goes well with my mostly black, gray, and red wardrobe. Don’t get me wrong though, boots will always be my comfy shoes (I did get another red pair of Bennies though).
bensimon_launch1 bensimon_launch2 bensimon_launch3

Save for an extra pair of size 9 white Bennies I still can’t decide what to do with yet, I knew that wouldn’t be the last pair I’d be working on. True enough, that wasn’t my last foray into shoe art for the year. Come October, I found myself customizing shoes again — a pair of Vans this time, which was, truthfully, easier to work on.  I guess this explains why there are lots of custom Vans shoe art out there. I’d have to try working on other brands, but so far, the canvas for this brand is just perfect for painting.

The client’s request was simple: A design that’s undeniably me. Without thinking twice about what to paint, I threw in my favorite elements I like to incorporate in my paintings — roses, skulls, bones, a few curlicues, and my new found love – VISCERA!
vans_katpallon1 vans_katpallon2 vans_katpallon3 vans_katpallon5 vans_katpallon4 vans_katpallon6

Now that I’ve experienced painting on three pairs of canvas shoes, I think I’m ready to try working on a new material — leather.  I’ve agreed to design a pair, and tinkering with a new medium is always exciting. Yep, can’t wait to get started on that one. As for the extra pair of Bennies, I’m a size 7 and I really won’t be able to use them, so I’m considering designing and raffling them off some time in 2014. I just need to get a few paintings done first. So there you go, two supposedly separate overdue posts compressed into one. Definitely looking forward to doing more shoe art next year,  among other projects of course.

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The Call of the Void

Twenty five days before the year ends and I dare say that 2013 has been a really awesome one. I remember telling a friend that if I could choose one year to get stuck in, THIS would be it. That might sound a bit too much (and of course there could be better years ahead), but that’s because I’ve had such a grand time and this year just has too many good memories to look back to. The first day of the year found me preparing for a solo exhibit that happened last August, and rightfully so, I shall be closing it with a two-man show with my brush/ graphite/ pen-wielding tarsier friend, Isobel Francisco.

Join us on the last Friday the 13th of 2013 for the opening of The Call of the Void at Art Gallery Asia in Pasong Tamo cor. Don Bosco St., Makati. Cocktails start at 6PM. Prior to that, we’ll be having short talks about our respective painting series, so you might want to drop by early to catch that one.

The Call of the Void Exhibit Poster

L’appel du Vide: The Call of the Void
Artistic Explorations into the Unknown

The visual poetry of Katrina Pallon & Isobel Francisco


Text by: Hannah Jo Uy


Close your eyes. You are standing on a cliff. A cliff so proud and majestic it stands tall above all other surrounding natural structures. Take a deep breath and take a step closer to the edge. You hear your feet slowly crushing the pebbles as you plant them deliberately on the ground. Inhale the air of the heavens, far from everything and anything you have ever known and open your eyes. Your eye is met with the image of your familiar toes touching the horizon that signals the end of a cliff. You look down, and see an endless abyss; land is imperceptible, covered by sedentary white tufts of clouds. Your heart beats so fast you can see the incremental movements in your chest. Fear is palpable. Death is close. But you have never felt more alive. You hear a voice whispering to hang on to this feeling. Safety and comfort have become repulsive. Your body begs you to jump, in its desire to know more; its desire to fall and know complete and total freedom.

This is the Call of the Void.

The French in its romantic lingual prowess have always had a knack of capturing the most subtle of sentiments with a single twist of the tongue. L’appel du Vide is a word that defines a psychological phenomenon in which secret desires, subconscious yearnings, and impulses of the flesh pierces through the wall that is held up by a social understanding of what is logical and what is acceptable. Although no fitting translation that totally captures the magnitude of the phrase can be found to this day, the closest known term in English is, “The Call of the Void.”

Artists Katrina Pallon and Isobel Francisco have taken it upon themselves to explore this phenomenon, a task they have executed to perfection.

There is no sound stronger than silence. In this silence, the deepest longings buried under our subconscious find an opening in which to reveal themselves, which is why this silence has also been synonymous with fear. However, artists Pallon and Francisco in their trademark spunky attitude, attack this fear head on, stab it with their paintbrush, and from its blood drew a collection of colors that they have skillfully manipulated to create striking and thought provoking art pieces. Together, the artists present their reflections on the subject of secret desires through a collection of pieces that demonstrate their insightful and soulful musings, and remarkable talent.

Katrina Pallon, a Visual Communications graduate from the University of the Philippines- Diliman, has been slowly carving a name for herself in the local art scene. The prolific artist is, in fact, just coming off two exhibits this year, another two-man show and a solo exhibition. A passionate musician, avid traveler, and lover of black boots, Pallon has been repeatedly inclined to thematic images featuring her own gender. Through her brush, Pallon narrates the stories and sorrow of women who are no one, and at the same time, everyone. Southeast Asian sensibilities are often prominent in her work, in subtle doses often through her creative use of flowers and lanterns, elements that have always been her own personal point of fascination. Much inspired by her travels all over Southeast Asia, the paintings of Pallon have always stood out for their ability to speak of the innermost tension and struggles of women. For this exhibit, she faces her own fears as an artist, experimenting with compositions outside her comfort zone. “It’s about succumbing to your darkness,” says Pallon of her recent collection, “embracing emptiness.”

Isobel Francisco, Humanities graduate from Ateneo de Manila University, may not have thought she would have an often demanding occupation of being an exhibiting artist. But talent and fate protested against her initial thoughts, and her outstanding talent and eye for color have brought her to the beginning of what promises to be an impressive career. A deep seated love for creative concepts and out of the box thinking have defined most of her life, even in the midst of her many occupations as a brand designer, a copywriter, and a digital artist. Having refined her skill in digital art, her transition to oil paintings depicts a natural talent that is further improved by her innate hunger for knowledge. The collection of Francisco shows her attraction to blue palettes, “Although all colors are versatile, for me blue is the most versatile in depicting a range of emotions. Not just in its lightness and brightness, but the execution can make it lighthearted or sad at the same time, or emotional or completely void of emotion.” Admitting herself to be a lifelong student of the arts, Francisco is excited at the challenges of taking on new mediums.

In their shared intellectual curiosity of the world, they have recorded a hidden and honest range of human emotions, the product of tensions that plague our everyday lives, making a truly haunting visual experience.