The Abyssal Zone

For some time now, I have been going back to my process on aggressive drawings and The Line Wars, a definitive phase of my production verily inspired by comics, sci-fi, and video games. Armed with my illustrative guile and drawing skills, I pay tribute to the art of storytelling through these works. There is always a cacophony of images that cohere together and are punctuated by some comical and quirky interjections in which I manage to prompt questions and ideas. Visible too, are surges of people in flux as in a war or in a state of attack thereby suggesting my own conspiring ideas of invasion and infiltration or set in some dismal location which certainly share some biting psychogeographical spectral resonance. They could just be a mash-up of people nestled or juxtaposed with larger visual elements but there would always be a frenetic sense of attack and excited energy that exudes some sort of comic wit. While invasions are planned, I work very organically and my habits are ruled only by accidents, afterthoughts, and happenstance.

With a constant yearning to tell and retell stories, I have always been nurtured by tension, conflict, and discord. My works manifest these themes simply because I deeply understand that conflict is a catalyst for everything. In whatever medium, my art would always be informed by frictions that I examine sensitively and provocatively. They not only bristle with subtle rage and transgressions but pulse with such punk and outlaw sensibilities which are effective counterpoints for vehicles of thought. While I ponder on subjects that can be grim, I present my ideas and dark humor with wit, easy vibe, and comical qualities and yet remain as perturbing as they can be.

Years ago in the United States, I thrived in producing drawings and line works that have been well received by my peers in the New York art scene. For a while, I was known as the novel Asian guy and worked around this marginalized position as a platform and tactic for breaching territories and intangible limits before me. There, I created much of my art in this particular strain and style. In the process, I was also identified and read as someone vaguely Asian, vaguely Filipino in the frame of my artistic style, tendencies, and overall demeanor. In New York where punk culture also thrives, my works indeed fit in and so this neither-nor flair and my unique idiosyncrasies apparently worked for my benefit and served well my artistic concerns and themes that were meant to skew and disrupt.

But my return to the Philippines many years later has become more than a relocation but has also been a profound source of many realizations including the way I produce my art. It has grounded me further and distilled my notions of conflicts and invasions, ever keener on their charms and possibilities. Sadly, drawings and their related forms and these types of work are still given disappointingly scant attention in this country, however, it becomes another interesting risk and conflict to tackle.

I mine the power of narratives and stories but my works allow audiences to predicate and complete meanings to my work. I paint from a personal space with nuanced observations of the larger spaces where I move and thrive while concomitantly decoding my personal relationship to these settings and locations where my works are processed and done. It is good to point out that I’m never a distinctively political artist but just someone with relentless curiosity and likes to mock something here and there. For me, it really has been most effective when I marry my own struggles and misadventures together with larger social contexts to fodder my art.

Drawing has always been significant to me. I celebrate its artistic purity, graphic verbiage as a medium, and its sublime dexterous tradition. At times, I transpose my usual works on paper into canvases with the usual invasive technique and process by reworking finished surfaces. These works are effectively encouraging exploration of its formal, conceptual, and material progress.

Edited from an original text by Philip Paraan

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