In August 2015, not only was my artwork “LUSH” chosen as the banner artwork of their annual Film Festival (FIFIG), I was also invited in Ile de Groix, Brittany, France for an artist residency and a solo exhibition thereafter. My wife and I, stayed in the island for more than 2 months. It is in France where I first saw and acquired a palette knife with grooves/teeth. I discovered I can achieve various textures depending on how the grooves in the knives vary. When we left the island, we travelled for another 20 days to Geneva, Milan, Florence, Rome, Barcelona and Paris. To be exposed to the European culture, having had the chance to marvel at European art from paintings and sculptures of famous masters to historic structures and buildings and to see for the first time the colors of autumn, provided great inspiration and growth in me as an artist. After I got back from that trip, I was transformed. Right after my residency in France, I went out of my comfort zone and experimented with mixed media re-using plastic waste combined with scrap metals, glass and found objects, the result of which was launched in my 4th solo exhibition in Manila, Philippines last 2017, entitled "Colors of Excess."
After that trip, my special interest in European relief sculptures which I have taken photos of during our travel there, have become the main subjects of my paintings. I would consider this some form of account on my experience having seen these “relics” from our distant past and my current take/interpretation and an attempt to somehow preserving an impression of these “relics.” I also consider this a part of my evolution and the next phase of my art career. In addition, these relief sculptures creates an impression as if you have traveled in the past, some of the structures even seem preserved and untouched by modernization. In Europe, I saw harmony between the old and the new, and the coexistence of man and man-made structures with nature which is parallel to what I want to portray in my art. In general, my travels to different countries (including Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan) in recent years and exposure to other cultures paved way for me to open up to a wider range of subjects, my style also evolved and color palette broadened.
My wife and I love to travel and not only does it give me inspiration and new perspectives but also a crucial part in developing and learning new approach/es in my creation process. I always feel inspired when given an opportunity to work in a new atmosphere and outside of my comfort zone. When in another country, we would always prioritize hiking in the mountains and connect with nature. On our way, while waiting in terminals, while we stop to rest or look at the scenic views and upon reaching our destination, I sketch when possible. My “Pen and Ink Travel Sketch Series” as well as paintings inspired by our travels will be featured in my 6th Solo Show entitled “RELIC” during ManilArt 2020.
I would love to be given an opportunity to work while traveling again but the current COVID-19 global health crisis reminded us once again how uncertain a lot of things are in this World. Travel from one place to another has become restricted. The “relics” I saw during my previous travels may not be the same nor still exist when I come back. So for me, every artist has an obligation to successfully integrate and convey how he sees, experiences, understands and interprets fragments of (or what remains from) the past with the world he currently lives in. How he tells his story thru his paintings is his legacy and play a crucial role in preserving this history.