Madonna Reimagined: My 4th Solo Painting Exhibition

Madonna Reimagined Exhibit Invite
Reviving this blog after being dormant for more than a year to invite you to my upcoming 4th solo exhibition, “Madonna Reimagined.” It opens this coming July 23, 6:30 PM, at Art Elements Asian Gallery in SM Aura Premier. The exhibit will run until August 09, that’s about 18 days to check out my latest collection. Join me at the cocktails on the 23rd, and please feel free to spread the word. For more updates and previews, visit my Facebook page.

madonna_reimagined_webposter(min)MADONNA REIMAGINED
The beauty of an unstoppable feminine force

 

A hauntingly beautiful figure, the austere representation of Mary has crossed the threshold from being a historical figure to an iconic heroine. It is perhaps her simplicity, vulnerability combined with the resounding strength and boldness of her actions that made her the immortal figure that she is today. The Madonna has long been a source of inspiration for many artists, having been resurrected countless of times within the delicate and deliberate hands of sculptors, poets, and painters alike.

The Madonna has long been portrayed demure, elegant, and maternal. The epitome of serenity, her smooth and youthful skin seemed untainted by the concerns, worries, and desires of the world. However, visual artist Katrina Pallon saw a different kind of beauty within her boundless eyes.

The Mater Dolorosa, also known as Our Lady of Sorrows, has long fascinated the painter who was mesmerized by the startling image of Mary with seven daggers unapologetically piercing her heart. Not long after, Katrina Pallon was enamored by an extraordinary figure. In a modest church in Parañaque, she was surprised to find the statue of a headless saint at the centerpiece of the altar. The headless saint stood proud and was known as Saint Denis, a 3rd century Parisian bishop who angered the local pagan priests having drawn so many conversions that they had him beheaded. However, the spirit of Saint Denis remained undeterred and he rose from the grave, picked up his own head, and walked six kilometers carrying his dismembered body part while preaching a sermon. A church was erected at the site of his execution to commemorate this plot twist of gothic proportions.

These images and subconscious fascinations led her to an assessment of the catalogued images of female saints and martyrs in her own memory. This eventually inspired her to create an image of the Madonna and the saints, not as seen as they are known to be but as a reflection of her own understanding of them.

Katrina Pallon used the language of the brush to retell a familiar and ageless story. Using lines and colors as her words, she shared her version of the life Madonna. Madonna as mother and Madonna brought to life in the virtues of all those who have perished in service to her name. Pallon has veered away from the traditional conservative portrayal, instead using the canvas to reflect upon her own appreciation of the figure, leading to the collection she has imparted to audiences today.

Behold the saints, martyrs, and the imitable Madonna in all her vibrant glory. Here, the Madonna is unafraid. Her emotions are oozing out of her body and she doesn’t hide behind conservative colors of beige and brown, opting instead to drown in a sea of wild flowers, in her hair, within her fingers, and spread upon her regal robes. Blood drips from her eyes, a scarlet trace of the suffering she endured as a pioneering woman of her time, unafraid to fight for her own beliefs. She is unafraid of her vulnerability, unafraid to weep, unafraid to divulge a pose of despair, knowing that these are not indications of weakness but assertions of her strength and values.

Surrounded by beautiful breathtaking details of nameless blossoms, her delicate face remains to be the epitome of feminine beauty. However, in the midst of the flora, her face has transformed into a strength shaped by suffering made beautiful by its triumph over it. Using meticulously drawn details in the clean lines of solid black ink, a captivating palette, and stunning aesthetics, Katrina Pallon has created a collection that serves as an ode to the beautiful, multi-faceted, and immortal strength of a woman.

The exhibit will be unveiled to the public on July 23 at Art Elements Asian Gallery, SM Aura. For more details, contact the gallery at (02) 519-9683 or email artelements@surfshop.net.ph. (Written by Hannah Jo Uy)

Project 52: Weeks 12 to 16

Frailty. March started off with me helping a good friend fulfill her new year’s resolution — to lose weight. So the theme of the first half of the month pretty much revolved around goading her into eating right and getting plenty of exercise. While my drawing has nothing to do with getting fit, it does depict a very thin and fragile woman. The idea stemmed from my numerous conversations with my friend regarding body weight perceptions as she went on a diet that required her to cut down on carbs and restricted her meat consumption to just chicken and fish — an incredibly difficult feat because we LOVE food. I guess I now have a whole new-found respect for people who strictly adhere to a certain diet and really commit to it. I originally named this “Anorexia” but decided to settle for “Frailty” instead, since the latter is more apt.

Week 12: Frailty

Week 12: Frailty

Moon Worship. I have always paid attention to the moon’s waxing and waning, and the particular full moon on the week of March 29 got me to draw this. I was driving home from grabbing a quick coffee when I noticed the huge moon tinged with a faint orange. While continuing to work on a painting that same night, I decided to watch “Practical Magic” for the umpteenth time, which happens to be my all-time favorite romcom. Sally Owen’s romaticizing the moon in her letter to her sister Gillian combined with the beautiful image of the moon I saw prompted me to come up with this.

“Sometimes I feel like there’s a hole inside of me, an emptiness that at times seems to burn. I think if you lifted my heart to your ear, you could probably hear the ocean. The moon tonight, there’s a circle around it. Sign of trouble not far behind. I have this dream of being whole. Of not going to sleep each night, wanting. But still sometimes, when the wind is warm or the crickets sing, I dream of a love that even time will lie down and be still for. I just want someone to love me. I want to be seen. I don’t know. Maybe I had my happiness. I don’t want to believe it but, there is no man, Gilly. Only that moon.”

The result: Three Wiccans under a full moon. Cue in Toploader’s “Dancing in the Moonlight.”

Week 13: Moon Worship

Week 13: Moon Worship

Wallflower. The week I drew this, I was craving for a Hainanese chicken fix at Wee Nam Kee. And this was inspired by a wallpaper in that said restaurant. Craving satisfied, weekly drawing assignment accomplished.

Week 14: Wallflower

Week 14: Wallflower

Leona and Castora. This was a requested drawing by my friend Emiliana Kampilan, the artist behind the web comic Dead Balagtas. If you haven’t heard of it, I urge you to check it out. It has been listed in Spot.ph’s 5 New Komiks Artists Worth Following with its retelling of events in Philippine history backed with insight and intelligent humor. Anyway, Emiliana asked me to draw her favorite heroine, Leona Florentino, in time for the latter’s natal day last April 19.

A brief background: Leona Florentino is the Mother of Filipino Female Literature and (essentially) Feminism. A statue of hers sits proudly at the center of the historic town of Vigan in Ilocos Sur, her hometown.

“Her poems, which are widely quoted, were characterized by their originality of thought and elegance of expression on topics such as the glory of Filipino womanhood, and the romanticism of her nation.

According to her biography: ‘Passages from her works were quoted profusely in the theaters, in daily conversation and by suitors seeking the favors of their fair ladies.’

It was the same poems she dedicated to her fellow Ilocanos that were exhibited in the Exposicion General de Filipinas in Madrid in 1887 and in the International Exposicion in Paris in 1889. It won fame for the Philippines and her works were included in the Encyclopedia Internationale des Oeuvres des Femmes (International Encyclopedia of Women’s Works) in 1889.” Read more here.

Castora, on the other hand, is Leona’s wine seller and muse. Most of the latter’s love poems were dedicated to her. So in celebration of the Ilocana heroine’s birthday, I decided to draw her in a gentle moment with her unattainable Castora.

Week 15: Leona and Castora

Week 15: Leona and Castora

Sierva Maria. In honor of one of my favorite authors, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Drawn a couple of days after his death, this is based on his book “Of Love and Other Demons,” which, aside from being my favorite next to “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” has a wonderful cover art I consider one of the most beautiful ones I’ve seen. The cover features the protagonist Sierva Maria holding a bunch of white flowers almost entangled in her cascading copper locks, arms covered with beaded bracelets.

Week 16: Sierva Maria

Week 16: Sierva Maria

“When I stand and contemplate my fate and see the path along which you have led me, I reach my end, for artless I surrendered to one who is my undoing and my end.” — Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Of Love and Other Demons

Project 52: Weeks 7 to 11

In an effort to not make my blog too saturated with Project 52-related entries, I’ve decided to post them in digest form. This endeavour started out as a way for me to put down ideas for possible future paintings on paper. But aside from being a creative exercise, this project has evolved lately into something reflective of what transpired in a week — sort of a visual diary, so to speak. But that doesn’t apply to all drawings of course, and I can’t be expected to specifically point out which ones visually encapsulate events that made such an impression on me or just sudden realizations and thoughts that struck me enough to make me want to draw about them. When a special occasion falls on a certain week, say for example Women’s Day, then my drawing would be something timely for it. So without further ado, here are five weeks’ worth of drawings, which I only found time to scan and add dashes of color to just now. This is the first of two parts. We have a lot of catching up to do.

Butterflies in my Stomach. Drawn for Valentine’s Day. You know what they say in life, love, and everything else – “No guts, no glory.” Literally.

Week 7: Butterflies in my Stomach

Week 7: Butterflies in my Stomach

Strength. It’s when they have crushed and burned every last inch of you that you discover how strong you truly are.

Week 8: Strength

Week 8: Strength

Chasing My Own Shadows (while I’m running away from them). I was listening to Matilda, my favorite all-female local band, when I thought of drawing this. This was inspired by a track from their 2003 EP called “I n Me,” a powerful song that has always spoken to me. Put your headphones on, play it at full blast, and do check out the lyrics. A side note: I had to incorporate a couple of Wayang Kulit in there since I was talking about shadows.

“Oh this is endless perplexity
Unless I understand me
Unless I forgive me
Unless I see, hear, feel, touch, heal
Unless I claim me”

Week 9: Chasing My Own Shadows (while I'm running away from them)

Week 9: Chasing My Own Shadows (while I’m running away from them)

Exit Wounds. Sometimes our best products are born out of our darkest moments. A drawing for International Women’s Day.

Week 11: Exit Wounds

Week 11: Exit Wounds

Sea Witch. I recently found my collection of children’s books while spring cleaning, and was reminded of how beautiful the illustrations are on the Ladybird Well Loved Tales series. “The Little Mermaid” was my favorite. Thanks to a friend (because I couldn’t find it in the book’s insert and I’m bad at Googling information), I learned that the artist was Brian Price Thomas. I must note that the Ladybird classics stand out for their appealing, non-saccharine, almost realistic but still whimsical illustrations. So yes, mermaids — can’t get enough of them. And this is my version of the sea witch, seated on her throne with an anglerfish for a companion just to show how deep within the ocean she resides.

Week 11: Sea Witch

Week 11: Sea Witch

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.

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.