My Story

My Raison d’Etre as an Artist

I am no different from the multitude of painters who have chosen to “speak” (or paint) based on their place within the history of Western Easel Painting. I am but a product of my time. One has to be a product of one’s time. I couldn’t possibly be anything but be of my time.

Therefore, while I chose to paint in the “style” of another era, I am really addressing what has always been familiar to all of us — myth-making — its history, its morphology. and for lack of a better word, its destiny.

My work and the subject matter is not about “how much more could we invent, and further reinvent our “rehashes.” But of what it would take to relieve ourselves of our critical bias. Everybody and everyone is critically biased because of the sheer fact that within our current lifetime, there are more people who are academically educated than ever. And very often, these same people will be communicating to others ideas that do not require a treatise to be shared fully.

So what do I rely on then for a common frame of reference? No, not a ” scholarly paper” that delineates the structure of my aesthetic philosophy, nor its foundation, influences, strengths, etc. Something much simpler than that, I thought, would do.

Painting, for the sake of agreement, is the act of applying paint on a surface in order to produce an illusionistic or non-illusionistic imagery that point to another reality that is apprehended intellectually. Painting is really about creating a lexicon of visual marks and images that speaks to another part of one’s brain. And this part of the brain wouldn’t otherwise be accessed any other way.

Picture-making as Myth-making

When we come across people, the first thing that we notice is how they look — appearance. Being humans we’re never satisfied with the façade. By nature we’re compelled to dig deeper and find out what makes the appearance resonate beyond the obvious — reality. That is why the guest at the dinner table is always so fascinating (At least, at first). We can’t escape this tendency. We’re built that way. Our everyday lives are bereft of true meaning. So, we make one, or several, to bring it to life. We draw upon the ungainly wealth of history, and mores of society before us. Whether we realize it or not, we are automatically pre-programmed to react accordingly based on our culture, demographic profile, education, upbringing, etc. So in our private lives, we create these mental images, narratives, myths, (let’s go as far as saying our raison d’etre) — the very fabric of our lives.

Out of this morass of imageries that are collected in our smartphones, or prescient in our dreams and subconscious, comes the most intriguing distillation of such mental experiences — symbols. The question then begins to sound like “but what is being symbolized?” Our lives? And the lexicon of the lives that has gone before us? Every day that we face the mirror that prepares us to deal with the world outside, begins our time-honored practice of “making a face.” We make a face to meet the world. And in the same token, what we put into this “face” is influenced greatly of our view of the world we inhabit. Right there and there, we’re creating the narrative, the myth, by which we expect the world is supposed to relate to us.

Myths are always poetic, and more times than not, prophetic. Whether it be the Garden of Eden fiasco inherent in our Christian upbringing, or the vicissitudes of carnal love, we are always telling ourselves the stories that guide our lives. We are always creating a narrative for ourselves, a personal myth, if you may. What we know of our own history of myth-making is very much tied to image-making. Myths need visual landmarks to perpetrate the myth. So, the paintings that you see around you are nothing more than a testimony to our inherent tendency to create meaning — myths — in our lives. It speaks about the human condition. Our constant need to understand why is it we seem to always “fall short of the mark.” What is this human tragedy that is built in like a genetically-engineered fail safe program? Technically, man (or hominids) has been around for 50 million years, give or take another twenty thousand years of civilization. Still, it takes us a lifetime to figure out why we’re here. And what are our only clues? The images of our myths — the symbols of our lives, the imageries of our dreams, and the thread by which we weave the two.


M. F. A. – School of Visual Arts, NY (1988)
Major: Fine Arts – Painting
B. A. – Columbia University, NY (1983)
Major: Visual Arts


Group Shows:

October, 2013, The Philippine Center, 20th SPAA Annual Show, New York, NY
October, 2012, DDB Gallery, A Taste of DDB, New York, NY
October, 1993, The Academy Art Center, Kayumanggi Presence 93, Honolulu, HI
May, 1989, The Philippine Center, Cross-cultural Currents, New York, NY
June, 1988, Visual Arts Gallery, Thesis Show, New York, NY
March, 1987, Ollantay Gallery, Jackson Heights, NY

One Person Shows:

February, 2009, Arnold Advertising, Myths and Myth-making, New York, NY
January, 2008, The Philippine Center, The Vicissitudes of Love, New York, NY
May, 1986, Amauan Workshop, Lincoln Square Gallery, Islands, New York, NY
August, 1985, The Philippine Center, Vistas, New York, NY