Catching Up

Let’s pick up where we left off.

After my “Madonna Reimagined” solo show at Art Elements Asian Gallery in SM Aura in late July 2015, I accepted a friend’s invitation and flew off to Singapore for a 10-day vacation, which happily coincided with their 50th National Day. That trip was a memorable one for two reasons: (1) I gained new good friends and the realization that almost half of the people I hold (and have grown) dear are overseas — an added reason for me to travel frequently, I suppose; and (2) I started working on a collection of pen and ink illustrations, which then developed into a full-blown book.

So later that same year, I launched a colouring art book for adults, named Moon Blossoms — November in Singapore, and December at Art Underground in Manila.

MoonBlossoms_Order(min)teaser_webposter(min)Luckily, it was well-received in both countries. So aside from that and the group exhibitions and commissions, which are essential in keeping my career as a painter, here are the highlights of what I’ve been up to the past couple of years:

  • I’ve collaborated with fellow artists Niccolo Cosme for a photo series he exhibited in 2015, and Feanne for limited edition scarves.
  • Painted the two largest murals I’ve ever done so far.
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  • Mounted my dream exhibit last year — well, half of it. It was a concept I had to incubate for 8 long years, and only came to fruition in October 2016. I intend to continue the series some time next year, and maybe produce a limited edition deck of cards comprised of just the Major Arcana to celebrate its completion. (You may view the pieces here.)
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  • And just recently, I was fortunate enough to have been represented by the New York International Contemporary Art Society at this year’s Artexpo New York  — a really huge honour and opportunity for me to say the least.
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So today, I am currently kept busy (and haggard) by upcoming shows — a solo at Art Elements (SM Aura), a group show at Rendezvous Hotel Singapore, and Art Stage Jakarta all on August; Art Taipei and ManilArt on October; and finally, Affordable Art Fair Singapore on November. It’s probably the scorching Manila summer and the accompanying workload that’s keeping me unexcitable at the moment, but I’m sure I’ll come around to it as the dates come closer. My mood may not currently be up to par, but I am very much thankful for the international shows.

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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.

Cranes and Art Prints

The Crane Wife
61cm x 91.4cm
Acrylic on canvas

Faery tales and myths from different cultures have always been my main sources of inspiration for my works, may it be for paintings and illustrations or conceptual photos. This particular piece was exhibited at an all-women artists show called “Dream, Paper, Dream” on March 2011 at Vinyl on Vinyl, the opening of which coincided with last year’s International Women’s Day. The only requirement was that we incorporate an origami crane in our work, thus, I decided to come up with a painting based on an old Japanese folk tale of The Crane Wife with five paper cranes suspended from the top of the canvas.

The tale tells of a poor young man who wished for a wife to spend the rest of his days happily with. In another version of this story, the man is a lonely sail maker who lived on a hilltop high above the sea, and he would spend his days watching cranes resting and flying on the salt marsh below his house. In any case, he found an injured crane in the woods one autumn evening. Being a kind soul, he tended to its wounds until it was well enough to fly with the other cranes.

A few days after he set it free, a beautiful woman came knocking on his door, and they fell in love and were married over time. But because the young man was poor, he began to run out of money to feed them both. His wife offered that she would weave a fine piece of cloth that they could sell for a handsome price. She also requested that a workroom be built on the condition that her husband should promise never to watch her weave. True enough, she produced wondrous pieces of cloth of unmatched quality that they were able to sell for prices that allowed them to live comfortably. No longer able to contain his curiosity one day, the young man broke his promise and peeked in. Instead of his wife, he saw a crane plucking its own feathers and weaving them into the loom. Having been revealed, the crane wife flew away and never returned, leaving behind a half finished cloth as a reminder of the time they had together.

I painted the crane wife dressed in an intricately embroidered red kimono holding a cloth she has woven. While the actual painting has already been sold, I am selling my first edition archival giclee print of it on AVA.ph along with prints of 11 more of my works.
Recently, I have been receiving inquiries about my art prints, so this post should be able to answer those questions. I am currently under an exclusive contract with AVA.ph until early November, so purchases will have to made through them. Do check out my available works by visiting my AVA.ph shop, and buy yourself a print if you fancy my work. 🙂