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)

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A Guitar, A Violin, and A Pair of Vans

If you remember my post about getting into shoe art, those two pairs of shoes ushered in a lot of inquiries. Early this year, I was happy to take in yet another pair of Vans for customization. I figured that designing shoes, apart from my freelance illustration projects and mask making, would be a very much welcome break from my usual studio work. Anyway, this belongs to Bongkee Dela Torre, who I must say, also very skillfully does custom painted shoes. He specifically said that these are to be used for skating, and gave me a number of tips on what mix of paints to use for the design to last long. And after four days straight of beating these babies — cruising, biking, and whatnot — he confirmed that they passed the durability test.
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Apparently, it wasn’t just orders for custom shoe art that came in. A few weeks later, I accepted a commissioned work for an electric guitar from my friend, Arthur Piccio of Death by Elephant. Darcy, which he fondly named his guitar, was assembled by him and is a 26″ scale lefty Gibson SG Standard copy with capiz shell trapezoid inlay. I debated with myself at first whether to paint every inch of it or not, but decided later on to come up with a design that would also let the wood finish shine through.
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That little project with Arthur’s Darcy led to another commissioned painting for a musical instrument — a little girl’s violin this time. For Sofia Elise Zamora’s violin, I applied thick lines of copper paint to highlight the delicate patterns which are mostly in varying shades of pink and purple. The next time I get another project for an instrument, I hope it would be a grand piano. Yes, I’m serious about that. Believe me when I say that I’d also love to try painting helmets, a motorbike, or maybe even a car in the future and if time permits of course.
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To end this post, I think it’s best that I clarify one of the frequently asked questions I’ve been getting regarding my shoe art customization stint. Kindly note that the shoes and instruments to be painted on were provided by their respective owners. Now, excuse me while I go back to the salt mines.

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 4 to 6

Thanks to the northeast monsoon, Manila had a pleasantly cool weather for the rest of January. I was so wrong to think that a cold weather would actually get me to work faster on my paintings as sweltering summers slow me down. On the contrary, I found it very conducive to sleep so I pretty much slacked off. Haha! It gets a bit warmer every passing day now – a sad thing because we, Manila folks, have to start stashing away our coats and jackets. While I’m beginning to miss standing by one of my studio windows wide open – wearing a beanie with a shawl wrapped around my shoulders, nursing a hot mug of coffee – I welcome back sunshine and blue skies as I regain my regular speed and focus. Anyway, my drawing for Week 4 is an ode to the month-long abnormally cold weather we were able to enjoy. And if you assumed I named this after a Passion Pit song of the same title, then you are absolutely right. Yes, the one that starts out with, “Please unicorn, eat tacos with me.”

Week 4: Sleepyhead

Week 4: Sleepyhead

And yes, something has to be drawn in time for the Chinese New Year last week. I knew I had to come up with something related to that. First thing that came to mind was a line from Disney’s “Mulan,” which I and a couple of my friends love to quote whenever having tea. It goes:

Pour the tea. To please your future in-laws, you must demonstrate a sense of dignity… and refinement.

There you have it – a Chinese girl pouring tea. Couldn’t help but doodle in those filigrees coming out from the pot as I was killing time in a coffee shop.

Week 5: Pour the Tea

Week 5: Pour the Tea

The idea for my Week 6 drawing was something requested back in 2012 – a Matryoshka doll. Of course I couldn’t resist throwing in a few flowers, paisley patterns, and a kokoshnik. Right. Now that all six drawings are in, I should be able to post on time starting next week. No promises though.

Week 6: Matryoshka

Week 6: Matryoshka

Project 52: Weeks 1 to 3

Back in 2012, I attempted doing a Project 365, which I wasn’t able to complete. I was going steady from January until mid-February, then my production decreased until I was only able to make around 1 to 2 drawings per week – most of which, especially the ones I made after February weren’t even inked or finished. I stopped trying to produce anything for the project in early October.

So this year, I got inspired by Gab to do a Project 52 – one drawing a week – something that is definitely more doable. Since I started a week late, I decided to just include my finished drawing from October 2012 for Week 1 so that this whole project would be a sort of continuation. I’m still keeping a couple of rules — that the images shouldn’t take too long to think about and working on a drawing shouldn’t consume much of the time I should be spending for studio work. In a nutshell, this is to be a breather from painting on large canvases, and a springboard for concepts I might further develop and eventually render as paintings. Plus, this should get me to blog more frequently.

Week 1: Lavender Roses

Week 1: Lavender Roses

My work for Week 2 was originally drawn on the afternoon of the 7th of October 2012, just before I left for Phnom Penh. I was running late for my flight that day. I decided to complete this to take up where I left off, thus, finishing this last January 10. You may view what the unfinished piece looked like here.

Week 2: Don't Look Back

Week 2: Don’t Look Back

Fresh from watching 47 Ronin, my drawing for Week 3 was a girl in a kabuto. It’s no coincidence that this and the one from the previous week are both Japanese-themed. You know how in some arcade games they’d show your character all bloodied and bruised while a countdown ticks on ’til Game Over? This one is somewhat my “Insert coin and press P1 to continue” drawing. This is my way of saying, “Game on! I’ll finish this project this time around.”

Week 3: Girl in a Kabuto

Week 3: Girl in a Kabuto

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.
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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.
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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).
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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!
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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.

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.