Talented artists Summer De Guia and Mark Turbolencia came together to create a powerful collection of works that shed light on pressing societal problems.
This is an excerpt from Lifestyle Asia’s April 2023 Issue.
Summer De Guia and Mark Turbolencia’s two-man exhibit “Silly Games” shows us that artist collaborations are a powerful way to communicate with a discerning and often critical audience. They bring to light social issues that need a platform to raise awareness and start a conversation. Both under 30 years old, Summer De Guia and Mark Turbolencia could be considered two emerging artists that represent their generation. On the cusp of being tagged as Millennial and Gen Z, their artistic works speak volumes about the yearning to have their young voices heard.
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DISCOVERING THEIR ARTISTIC VOICES
Mark Turbolencia defines his medium as unconventional though not entirely new. He introduces himself as a body fluid artist who started experimenting with blood during his college days and sought the help of his sister who was a medical student. The use of body fluid as a medium dates back to as far as ancient times when history and life itself was documented using only a combination of materials that were available then.
As his process evolved, Turbolencia’s art compositions included acrylic backgrounds with him as the subject but deliberately excluding the head to remove direct association to his persona. He has learned to maintain the integrity of his paintings considering the delicate and unique medium being used. Noticeably, his pieces present texture and layer with the use of hand-stitched thread, which emphasize unifying elements and connect to an underlying message. Turbolencia associates the use of yarn with a childhood memory, when the rhythmic sound of his grandmother’s sewing machine would transport him to a space of solitude. This stuck with him as a symbol of tranquility and reward, since sewing on the yarn usually means that he is close to finishing a piece. He also describes the vulnerability of it by saying, “it is a delicate process that you cannot do if you are rushing, angry or full of emotion.”
To complement his artistic voice is fellow artist Summer De Guia, whose educational background initially leaned towards the business and digital side of fine arts. De Guia immediately felt the pull towards the more tangible format of visual arts. She remembers the moment when she realized the conventional office environment might not be for her and never looked back. From there she took classes and heeded the advice of experienced artists, which allowed her to discover her talent and skill in painting.
De Guia’s visuals are classical compositions with modern, conceptual juxtapositions in portraiture. Her usual subjects are women painted against flat, plain-colored backgrounds. She also focuses specifically on distorted nude women in closed intimate spaces, attempting to capture their essence through the female gaze.
Her mediums are mainly acrylic and oil. Similar to how Turbolencia envisions his art to look like, she is keen on putting layers that enhance depth. De Guia explored ways to translate this on the canvas until she decided to try the piping technique. When asked, she muses that she does not bake and only when she experimented on piping did she learn that it is not an easy craft. She is also inspired by European themes and luxe architecture, which is evident in most of her pieces shown in “Silly Games.”
Earlier works by De Guia would show nude women, which she translates as another form of a blank canvas. One of De Guia’s advocacies is to promote body positivity, but the harsh reality of body shaming continues to be rampant despite the realistic range of shapes and sizes. This nudged her to illustrate the women in her succeeding paintings to be more distorted and unrealistic, as if to protect women from a speculating audience. “This way they don’t really exist, and no one can judge them,” De Guia said.
FINDING A COMMON GROUND
De Guia and Turbolencia, like many young artists jumpstarting their career, began by sending out their portfolios to galleries around Metro Manila. Turbolencia recalls that he would search using the keywords “galleries in Metro Manila” and send emails to the listings that come up. “Some respond, or some you don’t hear from at all,” both recount. But each had the courage to persevere and inevitably found their community.
They started meeting fellow artists and became part of group shows. Eventually, collectors and galleries were taking notice of their individual work. The Metro Gallery in San Juan was one of them and has become a safe space for both artists.
Chitty Cometa of Metro Gallery shared that part of the objective was to take the artists out of their comfort zones. It was also to allow space for growth and exploration, especially in converging different voices to serve a bigger purpose. From their early sessions of brainstorming, the conversation expanded into what became their two-man show entitled “Silly Games.”
As Metro Gallery describes, “This collection of works by Summer De Guia and Mark Turbolencia questions what is already enshrined in our places of power, which perpetuate and legitimize the existing social order. De Guia’s works ruminate on womanhood, abortion, the construct of purity, the economics of sexism, sexual violence, the destruction of the environment, and the murder of those who protect it. Meanwhile, Turbolencia turns the maddening hopelessness of current social issues on its head by framing them within visual comedy. Here, the heavy subject matter is made unbearably light in symbol and given a space for reverence and contemplation.”
Read more by purchasing a copy of the Lifestyle Asia April 2023 magazine via SariSari.shopping or select newsstands in National Bookstore and Fully Booked. Subscribe to the E-Magazine via Readly, Magzter, and Press Reader.
Photos courtesy of The Metro Art Gallery.