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.

Illumination and Transition

My third solo painting exhibit opens next Monday, 12th of August, 6PM at the LRI Art Pavilion. I must say I am excited to finally mount my latest series of paintings after getting moved for a couple of months. What to expect? Florals, birds, intricate patterns, Vietnamese ladies and a couple of Japanese and Manchu women in elaborate garments, and lanterns. You may RSVP at the Facebook event page. Hors d’oeuvres and cocktails will be served by the maids and butlers of Dokissaten. I hope to see you there. illuminata

No mysterious air surrounds her, and perhaps that is what which lends most to her mystique. She comes, she goes. She embarks on her travels, a few days here, a month or two there. This wisp of a child-woman has engaged on a discovery of her Asian roots, traipsing through the nooks and crannies of Thailand and Hong Kong, to the less travelled routes of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, before yielding to the irresistible pull of India and Nepal.

Each homecoming is followed by an outpouring of veiled thoughts and emotions on canvas using oils and acrylic. Inspired by German symbologist Gustav Klimt and the dynamic renditions of Frida Kahlo, Mexico’s painter of renown, Katrina or Kat has embarked on a very similar vein of artistry – colors, symbols, portraits of enigmatic women. A case in point is “Ceasing to Bleed,” showing a woman in Vietnamese attire surrounded by a halo of flowers and brilliant colors, her arm outstretched, sporting a long, savage gash but blood no longer streaming from it. It was done after a deep, personal loss.

Katrina is prolific, rendering both commissioned and gallery artworks with prodigious output, and which find their way to buyers and collectors soon enough. A Magna cum Laude graduate of Fine Arts in the University of the Philippines, Katrina Pallon promises to conquer both frontiers of classroom and gallery. Collectors have began to take notice of her obras, as she has just began her own artistic journeys of discovery littered with symbols.

A very intimate picture emerges of her art as described by a friend and critic:
“After her last solo exhibit, Resurgence, artist Katrina Pallon has become the ferryman transporting her captive audience across the underworld river: in her upcoming exhibit, Illuminata, Pallon now takes us through a grim, mystical nether-region of lanterns, cranes, skulls, and roses. As a reflection of her current emotional status, her works reveal a transitory state, a tunnel that leads to the light: it is the ending night with the break of dawn visible from afar; that quickly fleeting, terribly beautiful moment when you hold your breath in anticipation.

Executed in the artist’s trademark maximalist style, ‘Illuminata’ mythologizes both Pallon’s recent travels across Southeast Asia. Whence before Pallon’s women had been in a state of mourning, the characters in her current exhibit are now in transition–wading out of their entanglement, rising from the emptiness slowly beginning to dissipate.”

“Illuminata” series of paintings will be exhibited at LRI Art Pavilion, 210 Nicanor Garcia St., Bel Air II, Makati City. There will be 12 pieces 4 ft x 4 ft, 3ft x 4ft, and 2ft x 3ft paintings, curated by Mandy Navasero. Open to the public August 12 to 20, 2013, Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 7 pm. For inquiries, call 8963208 or 09155430482.

I’ve Got Whozits and Whatzits Galore

As a break from all my painting and travel posts, I’ve decided to come up with a feature on some of my favorite things I collect and adorn my room with. I originally intended to post this last April after spring cleaning one lazy Saturday afternoon, which just goes to show how much more pending updates I have in queue.

An altar of masks: (1) The Venetian Jester and the smaller gatto mask are gifts from Ate Tina and Reyna respectively, while the black, gold, and orange one is something I ordered online from a few years back; (2) Intricate batik masks (A tip if you’re into collecting this sort of mask: They are best bought in Yogyakarta where everything is cheaper than in any other part of Indonesia); (3) Locally-crafted masks from Bacolod (the terracotta ones are handiworks of the late mask-maker/ painter/ sculptor Rex Cuenca), a mask from China given to me by Julie, and a Thai mask I was able to score for a very good price in one of the stalls lining the port for cross-river ferries bound for Wat Arun in Bangkok.
venetianbatik masks

Puppets! I don’t have much, but I am determined to grow my meager collection. As of now, I only have a couple of string puppets from Cambodia (only one of the two is in this photo) and a pair of wayang goleks – Rama and Sita. I regret not having been able to buy a wayang kulit or two as I splurged too much on masks during my last trip to Indonesia.
puppets

Gadgets and gizmos aplenty, and by that I mean: (1) Tapestries and wall hangings; (2) Ornate boxes of  all shapes and sizes from different curio shops; (3) A peacock pipe, which was my only purchase from Damnoen Saduak Floating Market; (4) Small brass figurines and paper weights from Cambodia, Nepal, and India; AND (5) A small shoe sculpture by Ferdinand Cacnio – one of my most prized possessions.
photo 1(1) trinkets

My most recent obsession are lanterns, which I kind of hoarded when I visited Hoi An last December, then distributed around certain spots in our house. My aim is to draw inspiration from Cafe Mary Grace’s gorgeous chandelier (refer to the last photo in this post) comprised of numerous lamps and LED lights when I have my room renovated next year.
photo 2 lanterns

And yes, you may follow me on Instagram. It’s open for public consumption; nothing too personal there – just photos of food, places, paintings, illustrations, friends, and random stuff that are meant to somehow document my existence on a weekly basis.

Summer and Bali

Just when I thought that this blog will never be consistently updated (what with the long hours I spend for studio work and illustration projects in-between), by some miraculous twist of fate, I have somehow found a way in my current schedule to allot days devoted to blogging. Having said that, this post is intended as a final hurrah to summer. Yes, even if the rainy season has already set in.

A summer ago, I and my friend, Evan, found ourselves in Bali after exploring temples around Yogyakarta. While it was scorching hot in the latter, Bali weather was erratic, much like the current weather condition here in Manila – one morning we’d be sweating while taking photos and marveling at temples, the next thing we know we’re running and looking for shelter from a sudden downpour, usually settling for the nearest cafe (with Wi-Fi!) we can find. We arrived on a rainy night; our flight from Jakarta was even a couple of hours delayed. A one-hour cab ride took us through lush rolling hills and rice terraces to the town of Ubud, Bali’s center for arts and crafts, dance, and music. We had difficulty looking for our guesthouse as it was tucked away in a narrow residential area, a good 10-minute walk from the main road where most of the other guesthouses, curio shops, and restaurants are located.
IMG_1621 IMG_1916The best part of our room was the huge terrace overlooking the guesthouse’s garden. I would wake up early each morning and enjoy my quiet time alone, having breakfast and sipping a good cup of coffee. I brought my handy sketch pad with me, and I would draw away during lazy afternoons and evenings, listening to Beirut and Florence and the Machine. That terrace is just perfect!

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Phoenix Rising

March started on a very positive note. I was fortunate enough to be included in an art feature on this month’s issue of Metro Magazine in celebration of Women’s Day. The article was penned by Geolette Esguerra, and it listed me as one of the notable female artists in the Philippines along with Annie Cabigting, Tosha Albor, Mimi Tecson, Nikki Luna, and Marika Constantino. I have to admit that I spazzed out upon reading the subheading, plus it’s really a huge honor to be featured alongside these amazing women.

I was supposed to post this entry last March 8 and was deciding what painting to feature that would somehow be apt for International Women’s Day – something empowering; a tough choice given that my painting subjects are all women. The day before, March 7, was Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 84th birthday and I came across this quote from Love in the Time of Cholera:

He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.

I was instantly reminded of the last painting I did for 2012 of a woman engulfed in a variety of flame-like tropical flora. The quote somehow encapsulated the idea behind it – the necessity to emerge anew borne out of major turning points in life.

This Cleansing Flame
61cm x 91.4cm
Oil on canvas
2012

I had conceptualized This Cleansing Flame and made rough sketches of it during my short sabbatical around Cambodia and Laos, and I set out to start on the pencil work as soon as I got back from my trip. The painting was inspired by Shawn Colvin’s Sunny Came Home, particularly the lines:

Days go by I’m hypnotized
I’m walking on a wire
I close my eyes and fly out of my mind
Into the fire
Oh light the sky and hold on tight
The world is burning down

The imagery of the painting was intended to be reminiscent of a phoenix burning ferociously to rise from the ashes. Ultimately, the piece is about rebirth, the need to undergo certain “deaths” in order to create a better and wiser version of oneself, and discarding old beliefs that no longer hold true and do nothing but tie one to the past. A4-sized giclee art prints of this painting are available in my shop at AVA.ph.
I’m ending this post with selected questions and answers from the ones sent to me for the Metro Magazine article. These should give you a good overview of my craft and an idea of what I have in store, especially if you’ve just recently been introduced to my work.

Can you tell me more about what you’re currently working on?
I am currently working on illustrations for a coffee table book project, and on two new series of paintings: one is for a solo show on April, and another is for a two-man show on September. The pieces for the April show are mainly inspired by my trip to Vietnam last December. I fell in love with the ancient town of Hoi An, so you can expect to see a lot of lanterns and flower-bearing Vietnamese girls in ornate ao dais in my upcoming pieces apart from my usual geishas and gypsies.

Your works dwell on fantasy and myth, what are you trying to communicate with your art?
My works are emotive. I depict different stories and experiences of women – mostly personal, of emotions I can not express nor articulate while drawing inspiration for my imagery from myths and faery tales. Myths are, after all, based on collective human experience, and it is from this pool of stories that I find parallels of my own experiences that I seek to capture on canvases.

What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
I have a wicked painting drive. Once I start zoning in to finish a painting or a whole series, I switch into hermit mode and often times forget about meals, so I stock up on coffee and crackers in my studio. I still go out for coffee in the morning or evening when I feel like it, but mostly, I find it a chore to leave the house whenever I am in the mood to paint.

While I can be usually found painting well into the night being the nocturnal person that I am, I still wake up around 7 or 8AM daily. Bath, breakfast, coffee, check emails, then studio work – it’s always in that order. Colors are most vibrant in the morning, so it’s important for me that I finish huge portions of my paintings during the day as much as possible, leaving pencil work and conceptualization in the night.

Music plays a big part in my creative process. I usually listen to just one playlist until I finish a specific piece just to stick to the mood. Sometimes, I prefer silence especially when my thoughts get too noisy. Painting breaks are spent browsing for more inspiration. But at all times, coffee is my lifeblood.

Is there a connection between your art and your concept of femininity?
There is none. Personally, I do not subscribe to a concept of femininity nor of masculinity. I believe in the fluidity of gender and that it should not and can not be dichotomized into but two boxes. My works, rather, focuses on the female form as a subject of sublime beauty. Given that my works echo the female experience, it is but proper that my painting subjects and muses are all women.

We Had Our Parts To Play

We Had Our Parts To Play

We Had Our Parts To Play
61 cm x 91.4 cm
Oil on canvas
2012

I have developed a liking for women’s traditional headdresses from different Asian cultures, most especially the flower crowns worn by Balinese dancers and the more elaborate ones worn by Dan (a general name for female roles) in the Chinese opera. Of course, my interest for these things naturally trickles down to my works both on canvas and on paper.

We Had Our Parts To Play was one of the paintings I mounted for my second solo exhibition at JIV Manila Art Gallery. I had conceptualized the painting during the first quarter of 2012, but only managed to execute it in time for “Resurgence.” Partly inspired by Puccini’s Turandot, the painting features a Chinese opera actress modeled after my friend Julie. I had to include her hare tattoo that was based on a centuries-old book illustration.
Headdresses are integral accessories in Chinese opera costumes to help the audience identify specific roles. The more elaborate and striking the headdress, the more significant the character. The girl in the painting dons the headdress of an empress complete with pearls, faux jewels, butterfly embellishments, and silk tassels. Her heavily embroidered silk brocade is falling off her shoulders; she is in the process of undressing, suggesting that the play is over.
Behind the very oriental inspiration and imagery, the general idea behind the painting is actually a line from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women are merely players.” There is no such thing as an innocent bystander and a full-blown victim. What we have and all that we are in our present realities are results of our own decisions and actions. Our current situations are connected to all the things we ever did, no matter how small. We all have our parts to play.

This and my other paintings from “Resurgence” have recently been added to my shop in AVA.ph. I was originally saving this news as a Valentine’s Day offering, but the new giclee prints have just been launched last week. Better late than never, so I thought I might as well post about this on the last day of February.
avaAdditionally, the old prints that have already been sold out haven’t been removed. Due to inquiries and requests, I’ve decided to make 3 copies per print available. That should be a nice treat. So far, I am very pleased with how my prints are faring on AVA.ph. I just might add more new works in the coming months. Anyway, do check them out at http://ava.ph/shops/78-katrina-pallon.html.

Pen and Inks to Kick-Start 2013

The first exhibit I joined this year was a group show called A Third Helping of Instant Doodles. It was a huge exhibition held at My Little Art Place in San Juan, Manila participated in by as many as 50 artists spearheaded by Piaget Martelino. Considering I’ve been preparing for another solo painting exhibit on April, working on my pieces for this show was a big break from using brushes and tubes of oil paint since last year as I opted to go with pen and ink, my secondary weapon of choice.

Blossoming

Blossoming
10.5 inches x 10.5 inches
Pen & ink on paper
2013

Meet Me In Hoi An

Meet Me In Hoi An
10.5 inches x 10.5 inches
Pen & ink on paper
2013

Consider them teasers of some sort for the April exhibit – ao dais, lanterns, overlapping patterns. My imagery is constantly changing; I’d hate to see stagnancy in my works. And yes, I’m still pretty much brimming with inspiration from my trips to Laos and Vietnam late last year. With that said, hints of Lao aesthetic are also to be expected. I think I’ve collected enough photographs of textile patterns and decorative art in temples from my short stay in Luang Prabang to serve as references.

I remember a short conversation on Facebook with my oracle extraordinaire friend Abbee. She had shared “Blossoming” on her Wall having found it freakishly resonating. Asked what is her interpretation of it, her answer was, “Getting in touch with your Divine/Sacred Feminine.” While that wasn’t the concept I had in mind when I drew it, it occurred to me that it rung true for me to a large extent. Note the use of past participle.

That’s what I love about not spoonfeeding my audience with information regarding my works. I have always found it interesting to hear people’s take on my paintings, especially the ones that they could actually relate to. That room for interpretation that could even lead to self-discoveries is priceless.

The illustration features a girl disrobing to reveal a single flower blooming from her chest that has been cut open. She is in a trance; you could say in a state of feverish ecstasy. To say the least, “Blossoming” is about new beginnings, of overwhelming positive changes, of spontaneous and necessary transformations. Something is growing.

Meanwhile, “Meet Me in Hoi An” is my mini tribute piece to a place I fell in love with last December. It is a quaint heritage town in the Quang Nam province of Vietnam filled with lanterns, and architecture that is a mix of Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese. I could go about describing what I love about it in this entry, but I’m saving that for a travel post solely dedicated to that town.

Surrounded by cranes representing auspiciousness, a girl wearing a nón lá (conical hat) stands waiting quite impatiently. Lanterns hang on branches of magnolias and apple blossoms at the background. Is it related to “Blossoming?” The answer is yes.

Jaipur and Patterns

Jaipur was next on our itinerary after a day trip to Agra. A 2-hour train ride took us to the Pink City on a cool April night in 2011. We stayed at Baba Haveli, which was just a quick tuktuk ride away from the train station. The owner, Mr. Vijay Gautam, was an excellent host – a relief after an exhausting and quite a bad day in Agra. Albeit not so spacious, the rooms and hallways are quaint and charming, lavishly decorated with elaborate frescoes and tasteful furniture that exude old world charm. Our room has a tiny balcony facing the street. Despite that, we didn’t have a problem with noise and were able to sleep soundly.

Early the next morning, we started our tour. Tuktuks (autorickshaws) and local buses are the best modes of transportation to get around the city. But for time-challenged people such as I and my friend during the time we visited, private cars are available for rent. I highly recommend Real Rajasthan Tours. Aside from English-speaking drivers, they offer various tour packages and even customized ones for your convenience and travel satisfaction.
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Dubbed as the “Pink City,” Jaipur takes pride in its distinct pink-painted buildings, which were intended to resemble the red sandstone Mughal architecture. The capital of Rajasthan is a bustling city filled with magnificent forts and palaces, and bazaars teeming with varied textiles, shoes, and Rajasthani jewellery – the latter being its famous commodity. It boasts of being India’s first planned city, known for the width and regularity of its streets. The city is at its most picturesque during late afternoons when its rose-colored architecture glows vibrantly under the rays of the setting sun.
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Glorious decorative patterns can be found on almost every wall and structure, whether painted, carved or etched. I tried to capture these in photos as best as I could for future painting references. Composite tickets are available at a reasonable price of 300 INR for tourists that would grant you access to five monuments – Amber Palace, Nahargarh Fort, Jantar Mantar, Albert Hall, and Hawa Mahal. Additional charges apply for some sites if you’d like to take pictures.

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Resurgence

Santa Muerte: Baring My Soul
121.9 cm x 121.9 cm
Oil on canvas
2012

I had my second solo painting exhibition last December 1-16, 2012 at JIV Manila Art Gallery. The concept was not what I originally planned after my first one back in 2008, but I’d say it was a timely one after almost 4 years of dabbling and participating in group shows. While my former series of paintings were a mix of my own stories, of friends’, and those taken from fairytales and folklore, the pieces I mounted for this show were very personal – inspirations and thoughts distilled, filtered, and controlled just the way I like it. Ultimately, the process of creating the exhibit pieces was a catharsis of some sort. And yes, the show was aptly entitled “Resurgence.”

Human experiences often overwhelm us like the night obscuring the light of the soul. In the exhibit of Katrina Pallon, women posed in equanimity are set against stark colors of flora. Ephemeral emotions shine through the backdrop of flowers that frame women’s bodies and gazes that display mostly nonchalance, perhaps referencing how the artist had dealt with life during her trying times.

Katrina Pallon’s dream-like images draw from the melancholy of the past and a contemporary Pan-Asian style to rise above these emotions that have long beset her. Albert Goldbarth once articulated that “The night may be long but it passes, marking the transitory nature of pain.”

The artworks reference the grief that one normally feels after a breakdown – contained in its two-dimensional form, yet transcending the affective reach with its sensation of vivid colors and fluid lines – like the crimson stirring in one’s sorrow. These are some of the emotions that overwhelmed the artist when her grandfather passed away. One’s sense of loss upon the death of a loved one, melancholia, and acceptance through time are thus embodied in her artworks. Affect that is otherwise grim and dreary, is instead converted to beauty that arrests the viewer’s sensorium of images. The paintings radiate a psychedelic feel that immerses us in a labyrinth of sensations that leads us into the artist’s embodied thoughts and feelings, where some are sporadic and spontaneous as her world is. One can therefore learn to embrace the impermanence that surrounds us as we transcend our interstitial states of being. Within the endless dialectic of thought and emotion, the exhibit offers a glimpse of the artist’s soul, her path to recovery and rediscovery, as she tries to build her life again. Indeed, the resurgence of one’s self.

(Words by curator Kevin Tabora)

IMG_5327(min) IMG_5332(min)Santa Muerte was intended to be part of a different exhibit. I started working on it back in June of 2012 but had to discontinue due to unfortunate circumstances that were beyond my control. Four months later, I found myself rehashing the concept, erasing old pencil work, and continuing the painting for my solo show. Having been able to finish a piece I’ve abandoned for some time proved to be fulfilling, especially one that I didn’t think I’d manage or bring myself to complete.
IMG_5329(min) IMG_5326(min) IMG_5321(min)The original idea was to paint her as how she is normally portrayed – a skeletal female figure clad in robes, sort of a dark Virgin of Guadalupe with a globe in one hand and a scythe in the other. I felt that this cold depiction of hers does not sit well with my exhibit theme, so I decided to humanize her, giving her flesh and a skull for a mask with the eyes and nose remaining hollow. A stem of orchids flourishes from her heart, while huge cattleyas, dahlias, and more orchids bloom in the background.

Behind the cut are a few photos from the exhibit opening.

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Daughters of the Sea

daughters_of_the_sea

Daughters of the Sea
91.4 cm x 121.9 cm
Oil on canvas
2012

Fresh from a trip from Indonesia back in March of 2012, I was inspired to make a painting based on the myth of Nyai Roro Kidul, who was one of the favorite painting subjects in galleries we visited around Yogyakarta and Bali. Known as the “Queen of the Southern Sea of Java” or “Queen of the South Sea,” she is a legendary spirit depicted as a mermaid with a lower part of the body of a snake. She dwells in the heart of the sea and is said to control the violent waves of the Indian Ocean, taking the souls of anything or anyone she wished for.

I had conceptualized a series of paintings based on my friends’ tattoos during the early part of 2012, but never got to put them all together in one show. For this particular Indonesian myth-inspired painting, I decided that my friends Gab and Noelle would be the perfect muses – Gab has an octopus tattoo on the upper right side of her back, while Noelle has a jellyfish tattoo on her right chest.
No Indonesian-inspired painting is complete without batik patterns. It was actually fun copying ornate patterns on scarves and purses I purchased during my trip.
Instead of giving them lower bodies of snakes, I decided to place octopus tentacles since the warm colour of which suits the vibrant batik patterns. Balinese floral headdresses complete their look.