Wilting Forms, Capricious Appetites: Filipino artist Patricia Perez Eustaquio – in conversation

Art Radar chats with the Filipino artist about her latest series of paintings and her artistic pursuits.

Internationally-recognised Filipino artist Patricia Perez Eustaquio resurrects the flower motif in her latest solo exhibition, but instead of presenting the flower in its budding or full bloom state, she spotlights its most unappealing condition. Here, she chats with Art Radar about how her painting series entitled “Flowers for X” relates to her previous pieces and explorations.

Patricia Perez Eustaquio , "Flowers for X", 28 October - 18 December 2016, Yavuz Gallery, Singapore.. Image courtesy Yavuz Gallery.

Patricia Perez Eustaquio, “Flowers for X”, 28 October – 18 December 2016, Yavuz Gallery, Singapore. Image courtesy Yavuz Gallery.

The last time Art Radar encountered Patricia Perez Eustaquio was in a group exhibition in Jakarta, Indonesia, wherein she presented graphite works that were based on discarded materials from her studio, which she assembled, photographed and translated into drawings.

In her recently launched solo show “Flowers for X”, running until 18 December 2016 at Singapore-based Yavuz Gallery, Eustaquio continues her obsession for the end of things; only this time, she focuses on the familiar and common subject of flowers.

The exhibition features paintings of wilted flowers that blend Baroque decorative forms and Dutch still-life practices. Complemented by spears made from plastic flowers, prints of organic forms on silk and an installation composed of plaster cast and black salt, the collection touches on the notions of fleeting desires and the hunter and the hunted. Here, Eustaquio reflects on man’s thoughtless consumption, stretching the flower motif’s wide range of implications.

Prior to Yavuz Gallery, Eustaquio (b.1977) has done solo exhibitions in New York at Tyler Rollins Fine Art (2013), at Mind Set Art Center in Taipei (2014) and Silverlens Galleries in Manila, where she is currently based. The artist has also participated in many outstanding group shows, such as in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. Recent notable exposures of hers include Palais de Tokyo in Paris and the 2016 Singapore Biennale.

Eustaquio’s achievements include the 13 Artists Award, the Ateneo Art Award, the Gawad Urian award for set design, and residencies in Art Omi, New York and Stichting Id11, the Netherlands.

Art Radar talks to the artist about her latest series and how it fits into her broader artistic practice and philosophy.

Patricia Perez Eustaquio explores human appetite and consumption in her latest solo exhibition. Image courtesy Yavuz Gallery.

Patricia Perez Eustaquio explores human appetite and consumption in her latest solo exhibition. Image courtesy Yavuz Gallery.

Congratulations on your solo show at the Yavuz Gallery. Could you talk a bit about how the “Flowers for X” exhibition complements your works on display at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, wherein you have created organic forms out of discarded art materials, and your participation in the Singapore Biennale 2016, wherein you look into the story of the orchid?

My art practice explores materials, materiality and the vanity of objects. I try, through my works, to explore how our appetite for things, for objects, create an entire mechanism of supply and demand, of fabrication and consumption.

Objects aspire to become certain forms, forms that make up our visual culture. In “Flowers for X”, this takes form in a kind of homage or tribute, whether to the hunt for an object or to the wasted and discarded objects that we no longer want, but did at some point. This concern runs through the thread of all my works from Palais de Tokyo to the Singapore Biennale.

Patricia Perez Eustaquio, 'Flowers For X, I', 2016
, oil on canvas, 152.5 cm diameter. Image courtesy the artist and Yavuz Gallery.

Patricia Perez Eustaquio, ‘Flowers For X, I’, 2016
, oil on canvas, 152.5 cm diameter. Image courtesy the artist and Yavuz Gallery.

Your “Flowers for X” series take inspiration from, as revealed in the press release, decorative forms and art styles that are centuries-old. When and how did you develop this style?

I have been exploring this idea for quite some time now – since my first exhibit in 2002.

Could you talk us through your painting process for this particular series? 

There’s no special process. It’s pretty straightforward.

You are often linked to sculptures of fabric, and paintings on irregularly-shaped canvas. Why did you opt to contain your wilting forms in circular canvases this time?

I wanted the paintings in a kind of bouquet. The thing is I approach all my work from a sculptural point of view, treating painting itself as an object rather than simply a two dimensional work constricted to the wall. By giving it shape, I emphasise its object-ness.

Patricia Perez Eustaquio, 'Island', 2016, plaster cast and black salt, dimensions variable. Image courtesy Yavuz Gallery.

Patricia Perez Eustaquio, ‘Island’, 2016, plaster cast and black salt, dimensions variable. Image courtesy Yavuz Gallery.

You are the type of artist who does plenty of research before attacking the canvas. Is there a particular story related to flowers that moved you to do this series?  Flowers, after all, have been used for various ceremonies, royal thrones, and have been the inspiration of poets and artists.

Indeed, flowers have such a deeply rooted symbolism in our social, political and cultural histories and yet they can be so banal or invisible. I use flowers because I think it is a great metaphor to all things we like or want, and at some point and at another, may discard because they are ephemeral in nature, or because our tastes have moved on to something else. They are such temporal objects of pleasure and yet can occupy volumes of literature. They are also so familiar that they are no longer precious.

Flowers have long been portrayed in art, oftentimes to symbolise life’s milestones, such as birth, entry to womanhood, the beginning of one’s domestic-societal role, death, etc. Why choose to tackle consumerism, which is a very mundane thing?

In art, the still life portraying flowers were once the most celebrated thing, and yet as tastes go, the still life is now the tacky outdated side of art, or no longer “contemporary” in terms of current tastes and so on. In a way, I suppose, my work tries to play on tacky and precious, and challenges how we perceive things, using the flower as one of the main subjects.

Patricia Perez Eustaquio, 'Flowers For X, VI', 2016
, oil on canvas, 152.5 cm diameter. Image courtesy the artist and Yavuz Gallery.

Patricia Perez Eustaquio, ‘Flowers For X, VI’, 2016
, oil on canvas, 152.5 cm diameter. Image courtesy the artist and Yavuz Gallery.

We cannot help but relate your commentary on consumerism to the field that you are in. What are your thoughts on today’s art consumption? Is the consumption that is happening more beneficial or inimical to artists?

Art survives in feast or famine, and art will always evolve whatever situation is thrown at it. There is no moral valuation of its evolution; it just is, or becomes.

Though portrayed in their drooping stage, your flowers emit splendour and the notion of renewal. Is there hope in changing the way we consume things? Or should we just dismiss our appetite-centred ways as part of life’s cycle?

Our appetites are part of what makes us human. In my work, I just want to explore why, and how these appetites change, how an object can evolve and devolve from desired to discarded, and… can it go the other way?

Patricia Perez Eustaquio's "Flowers for X" includes a series of ornate spears crafted from plastic flowers and objects. Image courtesy Yavuz Gallery.

Patricia Perez Eustaquio’s “Flowers for X” includes a series of ornate spears crafted from plastic flowers and objects. Image courtesy Yavuz Gallery.

2016 has been a busy year for you. Art Radar would like to know what is next in line. Will you continue the “Flowers for X” series in the near future? Or will you take on another ‘obsession’?

I think there’s still a lot to explore here, and it can still take many forms…

Javelyn Ramos

1407

Related Topics: Filipino artists, interviews, painting, gallery shows, events in Singapore

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