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.

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Oh Despicable June!

June was, in a positive light, challenging to say the least. Right, challenging would be a good way to put it. Being a type of person who lives in the present, I did savor every bit of the obstacles it hurled at me. Couldn’t have gone through it and survived the whole shebang in one piece without my friends and cousins.

Truthfully, it was a very unproductive month – the worst of its kind. It completely and mercilessly sucked out all of my creativity, which is a rare occurrence if you know me personally. I’ll be honest. I had to put on hold my 365 Women Project for the whole month, save for one exceptionally fine evening. Drawing felt like the most natural thing to do as I sat in a coffee shop, killing time on that evening of June 3rd – the calm before the storm. Call it an “epiphanic piece” because it really is that.

Day 149. Pouring My Heart Out. Drawn on a night of a Full Moon in Sagittarius.

They say full moons mark either the culmination or the beginning of things. That particular night of a Full Moon and Lunar Eclipse in Sagittarius was a day for trusting instincts, taking leaps of faith, setting goals straight, breaking through barriers and limitations, and listening to the Universe. And THOSE were exactly what I did, and so much more! I can not even begin to explain the lengths I have gone to without a second of hesitation in the days and weeks that followed. Then again, some experiences are worth having, but not worth repeating. Let’s not get into the details.

June wasn’t all that bad. We, successfully, launched our four-women show towards the end of the month at Secret Fresh. A week later, a wonderful article was written about it by Ms. Elizabeth Lolarga, which came out on the Lifestyle section of The Philippine Daily Inquirer last July 1. (Read the article here.)

For the said exhibit, I tried my hand at designing a munny. It was the last piece I crammed for the show. But since I am used to designing masks, the whole thing took me about 2 hours to complete. It was such a fun experience that I’m sure this will not be the last time I designed one. While it is open for interpretation, one could say that this is my literal take on the Tagalog idiom “naiputan sa ulo.” Anyway, I have a lot of concepts in mind for munny designs. I just need to be able to find time to execute them in the coming months.

My first munny. I named her Vanessa.

In hindsight, I do so believe that June brought out the best in me despite being a horribly tough month. If there are some things it has left me with, those would be enduring lessons, tons of inspiration, and an EPIC story to tell.

So this July, I’m back with a vengeance! On the second day of the month, I got to tick one item off my bucket list, which is to learn Muay Thai. I’ve resumed working on my 365 Women Project and I’m doubling the effort for slacking off for the past month. Aside from that, I’ve started a new painting series – the darkest I’ve conceptualized so far. If that’s not snapping back into action, I don’t know what else is.

Tattoo My Colors’ Opening Reception

The opening reception of Tattoo My Colors last April 14 was a huge success! We couldn’t be happier with the event’s turn out. At 6PM, an hour early before the opening time written on the invite, guests started to trickle in. And before we knew it, the gallery was filled with people. The program flowed smoothly and everyone had their fill of food and alcohol, thanks to the wonderful maids and butlers of Dokissaten.

F*Art is at 24 J-Erestian corner K-1st, Kamuning, Quezon City.

Before proceeding to the photos from the exhibit launch, I’d like to make a quick update regarding the activities scheduled in conjunction with “Tattoo My Colors.” I and Raul “Ponj” Roco Jr. will be facilitating art talks this coming Saturday, 21 April 2012, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. The talks will be free of charge and will be held at Fashion Art Gallery (F*Art).

At 6:00 PM, I will be presenting the stories behind my latest series of paintings of tattooed empresses, gypsies, sirens, and courtesans; my inspirations and influences behind my works. At 7:00 PM, Ponj Roco will be talking about interpretations of paintings and color, and the different meanings of color in various countries.

While the art talks are open to the public, we recommend that you RSVP for seat availability. You may do that by dropping us a line at the Facebook event page, or emailing either katrinapallon@yahoo.com or raulmrocojr@hotmail.com.

Now, on with selected photos from that night! Credits for these shots go to Meryl Bernardo, Mariel Icban-Cruz, Ayn Tolentino, Ponj Roco, and Viva Andrada  of F*Art. I’ll let the photos do the talking.

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Artsy April: Tattoo My Colors

I’ve got all Saturdays of April fully booked with artsy activities beginning this April 14.  After having been moved twice, I’m finally unveiling my latest series of paintings at Tattoo My Colors, my two-man show with Raul “Ponj” Roco Jr. at Fashion Art Gallery (F*Art). I and Ponj will be mounting 7 works each, with his series comprising of whimsical and textured abstract paintings complementing my tattooed gypsies, empresses, and courtesans set on surreal backdrops.

The opening reception starts at 7PM and promises to not just be a feast for the eyes. There will be spoken word performances and acoustic sets to celebrate the exhibit launch, while cocktails will be served by Dokissaten Maid & Butler Cafe as you lounge around the gallery.

To say that Katrina Pallon and Raul “Ponj” Roco Jr.’s upcoming exhibit in F*Art Gallery entitled “Tattoo My Colors” is merely an exploration of colors would be an understatement.

While thematically, the works by the two artists might, as one can immediately glean from the title, be about colors, Pallon and Roco’s styles reveal their differing perspectives when it comes to chromatic expressions. One notices how the former’s tempered approach contrasts with the latter’s more liberal hue preferences.

This is not to say that the color limitations imposed by Pallon on herself diminish her ability as an artist—the maximalist in her focuses on the details instead. Her penchant for grim, dreamlike scenarios serve as the perfect backgrounds for her haughty, beguiling female characters—creating phantasmagorical pieces which are as haunting as they are enchanting.

Roco’s artworks, meanwhile, are more about vivid, surreal landscapes which are rife with abstract forms and shapes. His sceneries are explosions of colors, with arboreal outgrowths incorporated in each painting depicting the pervasive nature of life. The burst of hues combined with the organic appendages can perhaps be explained by Roco’s artistic vision: “My roots are colors and my branches are words, which made me the tree that I am today.”

The first collaboration between the two artists, “Tattoo My Colors” enjoins its viewers to explore art from both ends of the spectrum.

On April 21, I and Ponj will be facilitating art talks from 6PM to 8PM. Don’t worry, the talks will be for free. Expect it to be an intimate gathering wherein we’ll be talking about stories and inspirations behind our works. It’s going to be a chit-chat with us, exhibiting artists, sort of thing. I’ll post specific topics early next week so do watch out for that. And to wrap up the exhibit on April 28, there will be a live art drawing session featuring Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School Manila you just can’t miss.

With that said, I’ll leave you with the exhibit invite and instructions on how to get to F*Art Gallery. See you at the opening on Saturday! You may RSVP at the exhibit’s Facebook event page.

HOW TO GET TO F*ART: Take EDSA southbound lane. Turn right at Kamuning; it's the corner next to GMA. Landmarks are a Mercury Drugstore and Chow King. Go straight, then turn left at J. Erestian. It's the third corner to your left, there should be an upholstery shop at the street corner. F*Art is a colorful building so you won't miss it.