Isang tulugan nalang!
Hello! As I’ve mentioned in my recent blogposts, I’ll be holding my second solo soon! CLOSER will open tomorrow at the Ishmael Bernal Gallery (UP Diliman), 6:30PM. It’ll be a semi-formal event, folks! So God forbid anyone arriving in pyjamas or something. And yes, (free) refreshments will be served! I hope that’s incentive enough for you to go, haha
Anyway, I’ve probably written too much about my upcoming exhibit.. This website was originally intended to be a repository of art updates and a portfolio to house all my finished works, but lately I’ve been thinking of other ways to put this blog portion of my website to good use. I mean, I’m not an eloquent writer but I’ll try sharing other stuff besides work-in-progress photos this time around.
This blog post will make like an introduction of sorts (about why I paint the way I do, and why/how I chose to paint the way I do). So, hello! My name is Pamela Celeridad and I make hyperreal (or at least I like to think they’re hyperreal enough) paintings for a living.
How this (whatever it is) all started
If you met me around four years ago, you’d probably be surprised how I got from drawing digital, whimsical-looking (almost comic-book like) illustrations to making full-scale ‘fine-art’ paintings. In all honesty, I did more drawing and illustrating than actual painting around four years ago. So here’s how things went down:
It all started in high school.. Back then, I had this idea that you can never truly make it as an established artist (painter/designer/illustrator/what-have-you) until you’re known for a style unlike anyone else’s. They called this ‘finding your own voice.’ As soon as I started college, I set out to do just that: find my style. I made like a sponge, intently studying and taking in every drawing/illustrating style that appealed to me. But as soon as I approached second year college, I hit a wall. I’ve tried and tested a plethora of styles but I was never satisfied. There was no one style that I ever incorporated consistently. I’d jump from one style to the next (esp. when I see something I fancy) and since I could never decide on one style, I never moved forward. A perpetual experimental stage, if you will. Soon enough, I hit a tough dry spell and couldn’t make anything for a while. I sought out advice from professors, friends, classmates and professional artists alike and what got me back on track was a valuable piece of advice I got from a friend (who will, unfortunately, remain anonymous here as per requested haha):
“Don’t beat yourself up and worry about how it’ll look. Just make sure it says what you want it to say. A style will eventually follow."
So I went back to square one. All that style-searching for nothing? Not exactly! I’ll never regret the time I spent studying these different drawing/illustrating styles and I would never say I wasted my time learning them. In a way, learning them actually helped me find out what art I wanted to churn out. Now, after I decided on an artist’s statement, I tried to figure out the best way to visually represent it. What I ended up doing at the time was recounting all my favourite forms of art and all the qualities that made me find them alluring:
- Details captured in photography
- The magnitude and interactive quality of murals and street art
- The timelessness and one-of-a-kind quality of a painting
My current style is my attempt at marrying all these characteristics, and condensing them into one body of work. Painting takes the biggest portion in terms of form, but why? (I get this question a lot) Okay, I could try making a list of why I love painting (so much so that I decided to let it take up a huge chunk of my chosen medium) but that’ll probably be too difficult for me (as there are too many reasons) and too boring for you to read! But here’s a few: Somehow, I find the act of painting very intimate (in a painter-to-painting sort of way– if that makes any sense..). And I’ve grown to love paint. I love how vulnerable a medium it is and, like the white expanse of a blank canvas, the possibilities are ENDLESS.
So while my current works aren’t as perfectly hyperreal as I’d like them to be, I’d think this isn’t a bad start. I like the pace I’m going at; I’m learning a lot and hopefully I’ll get better!
In defence of Hyperrealism...
Now this is where things get a bit complicated. Everyone who’s familiar with Hyperrealism is probably aware of the amount of flak this movement has been receiving from critics, appreciators, and the general public. But to give you a little context, here’s what Wikipedia and the rest of the Internet have to say about this genre:
"Hyperrealism is a genre of painting and sculpture that resembles a high quality Photograph, It's the type of art that your mind might not accept it as a hand-made artwork. Hyperrealism is far more advanced than Photorealism by the methods used to create the resulting paintings or sculptures. The term is primarily applied to an independent art movement and art style in the United States and Europe that has developed since the early 2000s."
Now don’t worry, I won’t go as far as giving you a lesson in art history right here. Besides, if you want to know more about the genre from a general perspective, books, historians, professionals, and the Internet would be a better (if not, the best) solution. I mean, this is my blog after all. And this is just my two cents worth on the matter.
Take note that I come from a mindset that used to think 'style mattered.' And at that period in my life, I also used to think that having to draw from reference signified a lack of skill (lel silly Pam hahaha). But I was younger, I didn’t know any better, and I wasn’t as exposed to different genres and forms of art. One of the snidest remarks I’ve ever gotten from my style went a little something like this:
“Isn’t it all a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of thing? I don’t think you could call that art. Sure, it’s a pretty picture. But you just paint everyday things and scenes and you barely need as much imagination or creativity for that. I think you’re better off just taking a damn photo of whatever it is you’re painting."
I was taken aback and a little offended. I mean, I was ready to go all Introduction-to-Aesthetics-and-Visual-Communication on this person's ass but it was a personal opinion so I let it slide. I HATE preachy-preachy artists as much as the next guy so I decided that I’d ONLY say my peace about it when someone asked/really wanted to know why I paint the way I do. I thought it’d be better to put it down in words so I won’t have to repeat myself when the need arises, hence this blog entry. Plus, sometimes I’m tired of explaining to people why my art looks the way it is. So maybe writing it all down here would save me time and saliva. Lel. Okay, let’s get this ball rolling..
My first-ever encounter with Hyperrealism art was when I stumbled upon Linnea Strid’s work (do check her stuff out guys, they are AMAZING). Many of the best hyperrealist works are of the same high-level artistic craftsmanship that Linnea showcases. As soon as I laid eyes on her work, my mind was blown. Back then I never knew such skill could be humanly possible (I may be exaggerating a bit, but know it is because this was how amazed I felt when I first saw her work). Back then, I never understood why people painted this way. I’ve thought of this style a million times over in my head and the only conclusion I could think of was: BECAUSE IT LOOKS SO REAL HOLY SHIT THAT SKILL IS DA BOMB. This was how 16y/o-me felt about Hyperrealism. I’ve tried my hand at it for the first time around second year college and I failed (miserably) but I kept practicing. I kept painting this way without the faintest idea as to why I chose to. But the more I painted this way, the more I understood.
The attention to detail was what drew me to Linnea’s paintings and is the exact same characteristic that drives me mad when I paint (in a good way) to this day. This may sound weird, but what drew me the most to hyperrealism was the act of painting hyperrealistically itself. What fascinated me was the lengths I had to go through to achieve the semblance of whatever I was trying to simulate; the fixation, dedication and duration of time and romantic flare that went into painting hyperrealistically. I fell head over heels.
Now the process of painting hyperrealistically isn’t the only reason why I love it. In response to why I paint ordinary things; things that already exist in real life and things that need no imagination to conjure: I paint the ordinary because I see beauty in the ordinary. This may all sound cheesy, but I can think of no other way to say it. Some people may think that creating art is creating a world of your own, an escape from the real world. Something imaginary. But THAT IS what my art is. Sure, they’re things that you see everyday, but how I see it makes all the difference. I do use photographic references, but I don’t strictly follow whatever I see in the photograph. I put shadows where I want them to be and put light where I want light to shine. I utilize mundane subject matter to disorient people from what is real and make people think: Is what you see what you really get?
In a way, my paintings are their own pure simulacrum.
I hope this blog entry clears out most of the blurred lines as to why I ‘art’ the way I ‘art’ :)