Neo-Vision: Past and future collide in art A Filipino digital artist shows his works in London
Anna B. dela Paz (The Philippine Star) - March 8, 2020 - 12:00am

“Are you Japanese?” asked one of the artists. All around us, the chaos of setting up had subsided. Earlier in the event hall, there were crates rolling in, canvases on the floor, people carrying chairs to help them hang their works on the white boards. It would seem like any other event but once the boxes were taken out, the bubble wrap rolled away, the art emerged. Kensington Town Hall had suddenly turned into an art gallery, making way for the Parallax Art Fair.

Over 40 countries were represented in the art fair, which had a limited a private viewing last month. One of the artists invited to the event was David de la Paz, a Filipino digital artist and graphic designer.

David explained to his fellow artist that he wasn’t Japanese and that he was actually Filipino. He continued to explain that it was his frequent travels to Japan that inspired his art. “This is how I envisioned a futuristic Japan would look like,” David explained to Tiffiny Aasen, an American painter based in England. It was just as he had described it, a futuristic vision of Japan; specifically, of Kyoto. The collection is entitled Neo Kyoto, or New Kyoto, an alternate reality he had imagined where the past and future collide.

“The pieces are connected,” David explains as he presented his digital paintings. A digital painting is an artwork created by an artist using a computer in the style of traditional media such as watercolor, acrylic, oil and many others.

There are four art works hung on the board; he begins with the one at the bottom, Neon Spill, the sole focus of the art is the reflection of an orange neon karaoke sign in a dark puddle on the concrete. One of the guests commented how this piece was his favorite, as it was “chill.” There was something oddly peaceful about the piece, it reminded one of walking around Japan after the rain, lights reflecting on the dark pavement. “This is what you will see when you look down,” David says of Neon Spill. “And when you look up, you’ll see Electric Alley.”

Electric Alley was a feast of colors, neon signs on the side street, a light blue beam at the end of the alley. “Then if you turn around, you’ll see this,” he said, moving on to the piece called Roofs of Twilight Town. A row of traditional Japanese roofs with the same neon signs, above is a starry sky and at the end is a beam of light.

The last piece, the biggest among his works, named Ever Violet was, as he explained, a view of the town from afar— a pink light beam bursts in the middle of a violet sky among the silhouette of mountains and at the right side sits a solitary Japanese temple. 

What do the beams represent? “I imagined it as something like a locator,” the artist explains. “To indicate that there is a town nearby for those who are far away.”

In this imagined world, the future is a blend of old and new, without the nihilistic tendencies. It is a peaceful vision of the future, where the beauty of the past is merely highlighted in bold colors of the present.

One of the artists at the event, Sara Carnevale, an Italian illustrator, asks David about his process. David explains that his works were mainly done in Adobe Photoshop. His fellow artists were impressed when he mentioned that his digital paintings were done with only the use of a mouse.

As the night progressed, the guests arrived and other artists too, including Tracey Emin, a famous artist recently known for her neon light art of heartbreaking phrases written in her own handwriting.

The celebration of a successful event continued over glasses of prosecco and to the beautiful music of a live jazz band. Within these walls, art is celebrated. There is a respect for both traditional art and the new forms of art such as digital painting. Both new and old come together to create beauty, to touch hearts, creating a new vision.

Outside Kensington Town Hall, the terrace houses of Hornton Street were quiet, a scene preserved from some distant past. This is typical of London. But then, life imitates art, and somewhere in those rain drenched streets of London, inside some small, traditional shop front, a glowing neon sign would be seen, telling us that the new vision is here and it is beautiful.

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