In the Cockpit of Good and Evil: Spirituality on Canvas

Published: Monday, June 1, 2015
Text by Filipina Lippi
Photo by Pinggot Zulueta

photo by Pinggot Zulueta




Semi-representational artist Mark Andy Garcia has been making artworks since 2008 with images focused on man’s fate—his bloody defeat and victory in the cockpit of good and evil. In his 13th exhibit (in seven years) entitled “Recent Works” at ArtistSpace, Ayala Museum in Makati City from June 10 to 22, the multi-awarded and fine arts graduate of Technological University of the Philippines tested once more his eternal theme of light and darkness colliding with images seen inside and outside the window of his new studio on Ruth Street, Goodwill Homes, in Novaliches.
“For this exhibit, I made a self-portrait with my dog, sculpture, and other artworks in my studio; a self-portrait and a flaming tree; a pensive self-portrait; my girlfriend’s portrait; imagined portrait of my girlfriend and I 10 years from now; a group of happy friends and relatives around a giant and sheltering tree; and a lush landscape in green and yellow with a little house (a la Monet) in the middle. This landscape reminds me of my family’s house in Novaliches,” says Garcia.
He begins painting automatically until images reveal themselves magically in canvas, he says, a creative process that observers associate with naïve painting, or critics describe as childlike approach to self-referred, self-fixated, family and friend-oriented images.
“When I’m agitated, my paintings reveal semi-representational forms. When I am calm, I tend to paint landscapes and trees. When I am introspective, I swing from representational to the peripheries of abstract art,” he says about his mood-based style.
But images and style in Garcia’s canvases are platforms of what he wants to express: his belief in God (his objective truth); his expression of turmoil and sadness, seen from life, family, and friends (his subjective world); and his sense of overcoming and healing that lurk bright in a dark and damaged realm reshaped by his sense of moral world and righteousness. Garcia, one of the young fellowship leaders of the Lighthouse Bible Baptist Church (on Araneta Avenue), confesses that his expressions of discernment, healing, and overcoming in art and in life is a gift more than a reflection of his talent.
Noting that his form (art) and spirituality (life) are attaining maturity, Garcia, 31, says, “I am now in the process of getting beyond agitation in art and in life.” He adds, “Art is a good medium to reveal what I believe in. Above all, my faith is a big part of my art.”
It all began when he and six other artist friends worked as housepainters for a construction firm in Saudi Arabia’s Al Khobar from 2006 to 2007. “I was a Catholic who became a Bible-reading non-Catholic Christian,” he recalls. His unabashed spirit-filled artworks were shown in his first exhibit entitled “For the Kingdom” in 2008.
Comparing himself to Vincent Van Gogh whose spiritually did not save him from the pangs of insanity, Garcia says, “Van Gogh bravely depicted his turmoil. I did that too.” It happened when his teenaged sisters Rochelle and Racquel became pregnant, when his father had kidney failure and eventually died. Garcia handled these tragedies with images of anger, grief, sadness, and torture in his art exhibits in 2009 and 2010. “I used to cry before my canvas, and in my sleep. I was very emotional, Now, I wait for things to calm down, for negativities to turn positive,” he says.
In 2011, his images were alternately done with transparency (that denote soulfulness) and still with layered motifs he is known for (that reflect tentativeness or a raw cry for transition).
Getting out of himself, Garcia started painting places and nests that nurture the soul, including people who gravitate to each other with love in these places in his 2012 exhibit. Places included his room, a sacred seat, an innerscape or mindscape which filled up his 2013 exhibit.
Landscapes, roads, water (pool), and windows became more poetic platforms of Garcia’s newfound inner-scapes in his 2014 exhibit. In his landscapes at the West Gallery in 2014, the tree was an altar of joy, or a place of worship. But its deeper metaphor was never lost on the artist who had painted earlier about the tree that tempted with knowledge and resulted in man’s fall, the tree that also gives life and immortality, and the tree of Jesus’ blood for man’s redemption. Garcia’s multiple sculptures of one image—the man with two edged sword (as in God in Bible’s Revelation who judges and slays the evil one) at the Ronac Art Centre in 2014 represented the artist’s effort to objectify his spirituality.
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