Flows take shape
Coco Quizon (The Philippine Star) - October 15, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines –  We talk to artists Carina Santos, Kristine Caguiat and Paulina Ortega about their upcoming show at West Gallery. “Where Do We Put It?” opens on Oct. 22 and explores one central theme none of us can live without. 

YSTYLE: The exhibit is called “Where Do We Put It?” and, to an observer like myself, it could mean something very surface-level like “Where do I put it on this wall? How high? To the left, etc?” But in the context of your work produced for the show, what does it mean?

Paulina Ortega: Well, the subject that we chose to tackle for this show was water. Each of us explored different aspects of it and each of us created pieces that spoke about the properties or attributes of water that we reacted to the most.

I personally tried to imagine what the water inside of people was like, based on the fact that humans are made up of 75 percent water. I was wondering whether we, too, were affected by the moon’s gravitational pull, and if the waters inside us moved like tides in the ocean. 

Kristine Caguiat: I have to say that I love that you’re going with the surface-level interpretation of it because that’s what I did as well! Visually, my work has stayed the same for the past few months of planning the show, but its meaning changed when we decided on the title. The phrase is kind of cheeky and a little naughty, so I ran with it simply because it’s so open to interpretation: it can be deep or shallow; calm or tempestuous. In the end, I wanted my work to explore the polarity between a surface-level meaning as opposed to the depths it can actually go — much like water itself.

Carina Santos: On my end, I’ve been working on the idea of water as distance, how it feels like it’s what keeps everything apart, but also kind of as a tether that holds the world together, keeps everything in place.

I did some research by stalking you guys on Instagram and it came up on one of your profiles that this show has been in the making for a while. Can you tell us a bit more about how the idea started and what made you guys finally do it after all these years and with one of you oceans away?

Carina: The idea of a show for the three of us kind of started in college, in a “Wouldn’t it be nice?” kind of way.

Kristine: Like many, many great ideas, this one was the product of a drunk conversation and a pinky promise – (although I would have thought it was a middle finger promise, just to make the situation more dire). At that point, Paulina and myself had already joined a couple of group exhibitions, but we wanted to do something more personal. We swore to work on a show together and send out proposals to whichever gallery would be interested. It’s like taking a shot in the dark, you never really know what you’re going to hit, I guess. When we broached the idea to Carina (who already had two solo exhibitions by then) she was game and things just fell into place! However, five years ago when we were all still in college, the idea of exhibiting together came up a couple of times simply because we wanted to make stuff, because well, we enjoyed being creative with our hands. Since then, we all moved on to different paths, with Carina pursuing her art, and Paulina being on the other side of Asia. It was only much recently that we decided to be serious about it and bring this exhibition together.

Do you think that if you guys had done this show years ago when your first intended to, your pieces would look a lot different?

Paulina: Definitely glad we waited. Now that you mention it, part of me is curious to see what our younger selves would have cooked up. But I think the time spent in between has taught us things that are perhaps adding some value to what we’re doing now. All three of us have had very different life experiences since college, and hopefully that feeds into our work now as well.

Kristine: You know how it is when hear a recording of your voice, or dig up an old piece of writing you did? It’s always kind of awkward and a bit self-indulgent, and more often than not it might make you cringe. If we did this five years ago, it wouldn’t have the kind of weight and meaning the way it does now. I’m not saying we’re any less juvenile, but I’m pretty sure we’ve racked up enough experiences since then to come out a little wiser than we were fresh out of college. Yes, I’m very glad we waited — although I am sure we would have made beautiful things then, it’s more appropriate to communicate something visually at this age and point in time.

Paulina, you’re always a bit of a pleasant surprise and we never know what kind of medium you’ll be making your art in. For this show, what can old and new fans expect to see?

Paulina: For this show I worked primarily with graphite and watercolor. It’s the first time I worked with both mediums in the way I did, actually. I’ve attempted some realistic graphite elements and some semi-abstracted paintings, so hopefully that’s something new from me that people can see. But I think in terms of overall tone and composition, things are still very much a continuation of the things I’ve been doing recently and in the past. 

Carina, What was your working process like for this show? Where did you take inspiration from and what’s one thing you want the audience to take away?

Carina: My process has been a bit scattered since I started working fulltime midway through preparations for “Where Do We Put It?” I tend to spend the most time thinking of the ideas more than the actual process. When we settled on water as our main point of interest, I spent a lot of time thinking about what about water I would like to explore. Deconstructing the idea of water led me to think about a deconstructed collage, to the idea of water as distance and so on. I don’t really tend to expect or hope for particular reactions to pieces I make, since I know people will always find something else in anything they try to look at or read, whether it be a piece of art or writing or whatever. I hope it moves them in some way, but I can’t really expect anything more than that.

Kristine, in terms of your process, are you more the type that produces better work in or out of your comfort zone? 

Kristine: As a Scorpio, I work best inside a comfort zone! My room is my own private workspace, and it’s always great to come home and get dirty making stuff with really loud music blasting in the background.

I asked the artists if they had any pains of being puro art.

Paulina: My bedroom is my studio. The mess is a pain. I paint and draw with a hand vacuum beside me now. No kidding. (Laughs) I see my paper scraps and sometimes think, “Hey this kind of looks nice, but is this art? WHAT IS ART?” Just kidding. But sometimes being hunched over paper all day will do that to you. 

Kristine: Half-baked projects and unfinished work! My room is full of rolls upon rolls of sketches that were never finished, paintings that aren’t even halfway done, and dried-up bricks of Sculpey when I thought polymer clay was the sh*t! Now it’s really just a bunch of stuff sitting around making a mess. Maybe they’ll turn into a cool collage one day? Who knows! I reuse canvases a lot because forgetting about a crappy painting can only be done by painting over it. The one painting for this exhibition actually has something else behind it.

But at the end of the day, Carina sums it up perfectly:

Carina: Wala naman, masaya siya.

ACIRC ALIGN CARINA KRISTINE LEFT PAULINA QUOT SHOW STRONG WATER WHERE DO WE PUT IT
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