Threading their way through reactive art

THE PEPPER MILL - Pepper Teehankee - The Philippine Star
Threading their way through reactive art
Eugenia Alcaide.

For the very talented and creative artist Eugenia Alcaide, art isn’t made in a vacuum. It is actually nothing but a reaction to the world in which the artist exists.

Alcaide was a Fine Arts student in 2004 pondering her terminal thesis at a time when the Philippine art scene was on the rise. She found herself surrounded by young, talented artists eager to push the boundaries of traditional art. However, young, talented artists are also driven by another force: the desire to stand out and create what no one has seen in the Philippines before. Alcaide did not give up so easily and, setting aside the painter’s brush and sculptor’s chisel, she set the local industry alight by composing works of pure modern art with a material that erstwhile wasn’t even associated with modern art: thread.

Alcaide graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Major in Painting in 2006 (and a college scholar from 2004-2005) from the College of Fine Arts of the University of the Philippines. After college, she dabbled in fashion design, design consultancy, graphic and web design, and audiovisual production. She then had five sold-out, much-talked-about solo exhibitions at Art Informal from 2012-2016.

I fell in love with her work when I saw it.  Her threadwork throughout the years got more complex yet were equally captivating as the first time I saw them.  I bought her works at Art in the Park and eventually asked her for two commissioned works: one is my mother and one is my French bulldog, Pierre. (Check her website below to commission her works.)

For the next few years, Alcaide expressed her reactive artistry in poignant portraits of unique and groundbreaking layers of dramatic thread and structured wood. Then the pandemic altered the world and made her work and process evolve. Her light and airy layers of human portraiture have condensed into shadowy, conflicted assemblages. Her famous stitching transformed into compositions of dark, matted, forgotten playthings, locked in a cycle of struggle. Ultimately, Eugenia Alcaide’s solitary creative process has been invaded by an exuberant, high-spirited, and altogether unexpected collaborator: her nine-year-old son, Leon.

The artist’s son, Leon Andres.

Their alliance has led to an all-new collection featuring assemblages of virtually limitless perspective, the artist now weaving narratives of war, crises, and stark humor. Her patented threadwork has morphed into velvety puffs of frayed fabric, dotting each assembled landscape like chromatic living coral across a sunken reef.

These new works are made up of her son’s toys, composed by him in free play and finalized by her on the actual art piece made from plastic which were painted over with a matte black finish. Every inch of all these pieces is covered so that no part of the underlying structure is visible. So what the final work has is a strong contrast between the hard, defined plastic building blocks and the soft, colorful balls of thread.

What Alcaide is going for with this collection is not just to present perspective and composition, but also to play around with textures and explore how the extreme contrast affects the viewer of the work. Through this collection, she has done what every great artist strives to accomplish: the alchemy of bedlam into beauty. In the center of our global pandemic, Alcaide takes a huge step in an unprecedented direction — hand-in-hand with her beloved little boy.

Assemblage One, Two and Three.
Mask Three.

* * *

Catch Eugenia Alcaide’s new works at the group show “Prequel/Sequel” at West Gallery until Feb. 19. West Gallery is located at 48 West Avenue, Quezon City. Email [email protected] or call 3411-0336.

Check out www.alcaideart.com.

Follow me on Instagram @pepperteehankee.


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