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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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.

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. 🙂

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.

Upcoming Exhibit: Women On Women

One of the events I have been preparing for since last month is an all-women group show organized by Altro Mondo in celebration of Women’s Month. It is my pleasure and honor to be a part of this event, exhibiting alongside prominent women artists.

If you’re around Manila and if you have nothing scheduled yet for this coming Thursday night, do drop by!

Serpentine Eyes
121.9cm x 121.9cm
Oil on canvas

Altro Mondo – Arte Contemporanea celebrates Women’s Month this March with a group show by established and up-and-coming women artists based here and abroad. Billed “Women on Women,” the show will mount paintings, sculptures, installations, and mixed media works by Agnes Arellano, Imelda Cajipe-Endaya, Valeria Cavestany, Marika Constantino, Jenny Cortes, Lina Llaguno-Ciani, Delphine de Lorme, Sheen Ochavez, Katrina Pallon, Christina Quisumbing Ramilo, and Lydia Velasco.

“Women on Women” opens on Thursday, March 8 at 6:00 pm at Altro Mondo. A poetry reading session will be held during the reception, featuring award-winning and oft-published writers Mabi David, Daryll Delgado, Nikka Osorio, Faye Cura, Petra Magno, and more. The reading will comprise of poetry, short prose, and other performances inspired by the works in the show.

And here’s the official invite for the exhibit:

The following are excerpts from the exhibit notes written by Adjani Arumpac:

A group show with a full roster of women artists — a group show that calls attention to womanhood, to gender. Such focus on the subject matter poses but a couple of concerns. For instance: how can the artist claim her space of art production and recognition without over-determining gender, without assuming an alienating omnipotence, without conjuring the defensive/oppressive male/female conjunction — and all while keeping form at par with content?

These inquiries seem to be directed to the space inhabited by the production of art, rife as it is with limitations imposed by Superstructure conditionings. “Women on Women” is study on the possible ways and means to address these inquiries, the challenge, the concerns of art that explores and celebrates gender — womanhood, in this case — and its varied cultural significations.

“Women on Women” explores these traces of movement of the artists to look into and search for unbounded spaces wherein free inquiry into the underlying social processes can be genuinely facilitated. Places—liberally defined here as status, situation, identification — is redundant in the modern world, wherein circulation is a necessity for survival, where everywhere is a compound of overlapping mobilities. To erase place is to negotiate the paralyzing urgencies imposed by the body, community, home, and affections. It enables the artist to determine oppressive tamings and from these deductions, create works that are more self-reflexive. To truly determine constructions of identities and affinities to better inform and innovate works, women artists must continue to find the female in between addresses, in transit.

My piece for the exhibit is a 4 feet x 4 feet oil painting of a tattooed tribal belly dancer poised against a grim yet colorful background, replete with flora, skulls, and butterflies. She wears an ornate headdress comprised of roses, plum blossoms, Indian jewellery, peacock feathers, and cowry shells. Romani women, apsaras, and belly dancers have recently become my favorite painting subjects, so you can expect more pieces akin to this in my future shows. This piece serves as a preview to what I have in store for my new series of paintings that I will reveal at “Tattoo My Colors,” my two-man show with Ponj Roco, which has been moved to April 14.

I shall end this post with the above posted selected details of my painting. There is a lot to take in so it’s best to see the work in person, in all its 4 feet x 4 feet glory. For inquiries, call 501-32-70–71, email altromondo.info@yahoo.com, or visit their website at www.altromondo.com.ph.