The splash page to his Web site reads, “Art is the language of dreamers… When things are most beautiful, that’s probably when they are most driven.” On the main page, opposite his name, another proclamation: “Casting a dream.” Twenty-one-year-old Eusebio Ehron Kylo Y. Chua III, or simply Kylo, an Information Design senior, was recognized this year in the 42nd Shell National Students’ Art Competition (NSAC). His “Halik ng Sirena” or “Courtship of the Siren,” a cast marble figurative abstraction with allusions to native folklore, garnered Honorable Mention in the sculpture category, topping thousands of entries. The ceremonies were held last October 21 at the Ayala Museum.
"Blueprint of a Dreamer"
"Blueprint of a Dreamer"
(Posted by: Martin Villanueva, Fine Arts Program)
The sculpture features two personas, Malakas and Maganda, forming the area of Luzon and then ”channeling down” into the middle of the Visayas region, where three foreign bodies—sirens—rise. These sirens represent, according to Kylo, the modes of our past, from the Spanish, to the American, to the Japanese regimes—landmarks in the journey into nationhood. The white coat symbolizes an identity waiting its own writing, its own illustration, its own coloring—again, a statement about the Filipino.
The NSAC distinction is a milestone in what has already been a fruitful three years of sculpting—yes, only three years. The love for art came early because of his artist-father, Seb Chua. The older Chua is a co-founder and a resident artist of the Artasia Fine Arts Gallery, where Kylo is now also a resident artist and the group’s head of design.
Two-dimensional art (sketching, drawings, and paintings) was where Kylo began. When his father began sculpting, Kylo could not help but take interest as well. “I’ve always been curious of different forms of art,” he said. There was something exciting about something that was not flat on a page or on a canvas. “Sculpting is exciting because it’s three-dimensional,” he said. “I would closely observe my dad and his friends as they sculpted things, and I thought it was interesting.”
This interest has taken him quite expediently through art’s litmus tests for legitimate talent. None of his 13 completed sculptures are left unsold. He has participated in various group exhibitions. And now, he has this latest recognition.
Amid those who throw the word Art around, there will always be something to be said about the craft. Sculpting seems to take this further still, anchoring itself in a methodology that is a lot about engineering—designing and building—as it is about mere expression and creation; the proverbial putting the brush to the canvas to see where things go.
For Kylo, it almost always begins with drawing, a rough blueprint, if you will. Then, he’ll take as much as two weeks to shape the clay. This is Kylo at his most obsessive, perhaps his most manic self. He then returns to deliberate method and process. He makes a plaster mold, applies up to eight layers of gloss and white lacquer, and then finally casts marble and fiberglass.
This was the first year Kylo joined the NSAC, and it was decision made in an aw, shucks; why not? spirit. It was after all his last year of eligibility. Joining did not, however, come with an expectation of winning.
The idea for his entry was much influenced by discussions about colonialism in the history class he was taking, a level of clear-minded thought and insight Kylo admits is present in his works in general—but not all the time. There are occasions ch when inspiration comes simply from pictures on the Internet.
The appeal of the form for Kylo lies in paradox, in the notion that hard, static material can accentuate fluidity. “That’s what I try to do with my work,” he said. “I want to make it smooth, like it’s moving.”
He shies away from getting overly discursive, for he admits to having sparse interest in theory and criticism. In a lot of ways, in a world where the creative and the academic (or at least the well-read) have become one and the same (many will argue necessarily so), Kylo is a throwback to being a son of influence and mere observation. He can come across as a bit of a romantic, perhaps as an idealist. Another quote on his site, taken from a 2006 opening, reads, “Life is a playground. I believe that new ideas are the backbone of our generation. Whether in art, innovation, or business, the mind can work in amazing ways when it believes in a dream.”
His father, whose works he describes as more rigid than his own, remains his main influence, and so too his father’s artist-friends. “Figurative abstraction” is uttered almost for convenience—like he read it somewhere, by an author with a name he will claim to have forgotten, and he found it an apt label for his own works for the sake of those who insist on asking.
He appreciates the works of the others recognized by the NSAC and describes them as contemporary. He believes that he shares with them an affinity for the abstract. “Realism is boring,” he said. “Each person, when they make an abstraction, is going to really create something different.”
The lesser need for approximation, he believes, allows for a more creative sense of individualism. Or, as he told scholar and professor Oscar Campomanes in an interview for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, “I believe that man is most beautiful when he is lost. It is only when life takes us into its own imagination that we eventually know more about ourselves. So in truth, the vague obscurity of abstractions like mine are relevant in showing how man awakens to know his own name in his journey of uncertainty.”
Kylo under stands where his own works are situated in modern Philippine sculpting, and it is a quite the populist’s place.
Unlike works by others he has observed, Kylo’s are not too “separated from décor,” nothing too obscure. “It’s modern in the sense that it’s abstract, but it’s not too contemporary that people who don’t understand art can’t appreciate it.” It’s an attitude inherited admittedly and unapologetically from an artist-father who is also a businessman. It has allowed for a type of patronage that actually means being purchased and displayed. And, it fits quite neatly with his course at the Ateneo.
Information Design, after all, is treated as a course for problem solving. And as ID program coordinator and former Fine Arts Program director Fr. Rene Javellana, SJ, likes to say, “The age of the starving artist is over. The tsinelas has been replaced by a USB stick as the artist’s accessory.”
Kylo’s long-term goals include having time for sculpting and other personal endeavors in the arts while also having a hand in the family business and maybe putting up his own graphic design studio.
A thesis, however, will play a significant part in the immediate future. He is in the process of creating an online encyclopedia of Filipino sculptors that overcomes the limitations of viewing two-dimensional images on a screen. He has discovered a programming script that will allow one to view a three-dimensional object on screen from all angles simply by dragging one’s mouse.
It is an ambitious thesis, funded by the Artasia Gallery and one that adheres to his interests and what appear to be advocacies: art, technology, and yes, Filipino-ness. He is currently vice president of Free Love Philippines and co-founder of Isangisla, both endeavors advocating youth empowerment and innovation.
He has a lot on his plate, but after all, Kylo is a dreamer, one very much rooted in clear-minded thought that is undoubtedly aware yet healthily unobstructed by the pessimism that can naturally arise out of such awareness. He is the type of dreamer that institutions and individuals alike cannot help but pull for.
Article Source URL: (Ateneo de Manila University Website) http://www.admu.edu.ph/soh/global/module.php?LM=articles.detail&id=1263002898263
Picture Source: Shell National Art Awards 2009 + Select Gallery Photos from the Artasia Gallery