CCP 13 ARTISTS AWARD EXHIBITION - 2015 (Acquainted With The Night)

September 3, 2015
Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Gallery (Bulwagang Juan Luna)
Curated by past TAA awardees Jonathan Olazo and the trophy will be designed by Juan Alcazaren.


Abundant applications of paint preempt but do not deny the viewing of an otherwise very personal scene. The painting stroke is deliberate, quick, and accidental, but with a measure of composure. The blobs of paint have their own life on the picture plane they inhabit. This veneer ironically conveys a depiction of encounters in the everyday: portraits of family members at home. The juxtaposition resembles the arrangement of scenery and stage properties in a play, and mystical landscapes that tell more than meets the eye. These have been among Mark Andy Garcia’s most sought after subjects.

The power of Garcia’s narrative is seen in the slices of life that dig deep into the recesses of his psyche. It is composed of a sensitive empathy coupled with the characteristic chronicling that mainly acts as filters. Recurring themes are family members, friends, acquaintances, everyday scenes of city structures and buildings, and recently, trees whose atmospheric arrangement reminds one of religious camps and retreats. 

In a happenstance, one of Garcia’s early portraits of his father was at his studio at the time of this writing. It portrayed the senior Garcia lounging by one of the local stores around their neighborhood. The artist described how it is a memorable work as it would be the last portraits of his father. In another portrait of his family members, Garcia does not hold back and depicts his two siblings that have both become victims in their own right of broken promises, alongside their parents portrayed as emphatic bearers of the emotional pain felt by the children. However romantically poised these pictures seem to be in their abundant and beautiful painterly-ness, they are a brave gesture as it is sprung from much pain and sorrow.

For Garcia, it is of utmost importance to maintain the integrity of the painted surface and its depiction of the world around him. He is the classic model of the artist who paints his subjects in his studio. Serene and meditative in person, speaking with a humble demeanor that only indicates his clear-sightedness and acumen, Garcia likes his work to be as honest, transparent, and uncomplicated as it can be in terms of choosing and exploring his medium. His having been, at one time described as “anti-trendy,” only bespeaks of Garcia’s knowledge of the possibilities within and outside the painting. In a sit-down with the artist, it is interesting to note how articulate he is about the recent painting trends in Europe, particularly with the diverse promiscuity and romantic atmosphere of the British School of Painters, and the expressionistic sublimity of the German Expressionists to the Neo-Expressionists. The artist’s prolific work may also be aligned with the form and content of Filipino Figuration. Garcia’s work is in line with the expressionistic gestures and unique distortion found in the works of the 13 Moderns, a groundbreaking generation of modern-thinking painters that sprouted even before the Second World War, and at the same time coming from the seed of Social Realism. 

Garcia describes his work for the 13 Artists exhibit as something autobiographical, likening the approach to a cornucopia of epiphanies gained from the tragic and joyous experiences already traversed by the artist. On hand is a mural measuring around 12 feet in span, something that would be a first in his increasingly multi-awarded career. Avoiding an over-simplification of a labor-intensive working process, painting past traumas for Garcia has been a form of coming to terms with personal ordeals and trials. There is an optimism that comes with the artist’s process, a kind of salvation that Garcia wants all of us to know and have.

by Jonathan Olazo