Friday, July 18, 2014
Rishab's deliriously colorful musings
Visual artist Rishab, whose legal name is Roger Tibon, keeps his head low, whether in his home and studio in Baguio or in Metro Manila. Already he has made waves in the international art circle with Korea inviting him for long fellowships along with Taiwan.
Two of his works, "Shrouded Frida" and "Frida with Thorn Necklace," are part of an international commemorative exhibition honoring the great Mexican painter at Chimmaya Gallery on Beverly blvd., Los Angeles, California. He is the only Filipino artist invited to show his interpretations of the life of Frida Kahlo at that venue, and his works will also be included in a book on the same subject.
For his 10th solo show in his homeland, Rishab, 54, who prefers to be known by just his chosen name a la Prince, has moved away from his Dali and Magritte phase since he has always loved the surrealists. He comes into his own with images of women, children, toys, even an appropriation from the work of master printmaker Hokusai in "Waves of Time."
He said, "I'm not dark and macabre anymore. I'm happier. I can't say I like social realism--sa dami ng mga problema natin, gagayahim ko pa ba yung mga problema?
There are no male figures in his paintings. The painter prefers to paint women as his subjects because "they're pleasing to the eyes, their bodies softer. I also like to depict hair on their heads--graceful ang dating."
Also a poet and installation artist, Rishab chose the exhibit title "Musings" to reflect his daydreams and his own treasure trove of small toys. He likes to visit Baguio's ukay-ukay stores to buy these. He said, "Like any child, I have a box of treasures. The toys become my inspiration."
He does no preliminary sketches and paints directly on the canvas. He uses acrylic paint instead of oil because the medium dries fast, and it can achieve the effects of oil. Also, acrylic works are easier to clean and have no scent. A vegetarian for most of his life, Rishab is allergic to oil's fumes. He used to do resin casting, too, for his installations, but he has stopped because of allergies. Instead, he works with natural materials like tree branches, paper made from the pith tree or found objects from junk shops.
Two years ago, he was chosen for the Yatoo Art in Residency Project in Wongol, Chungnam-do in Korea. He did interactive drawings with his viewers plus a metal sculpture measuring nine meters high. It had three sides piled with bicycle wheels and an airplane propeller that turned round and round when the wind blew. All these materials he found in various junk shops in the area. He had no assistants in assembling the work, except for someone who cut the aluminum propeller. Even the welding he did himself at the height of winter. A crane brought the finished sculpture to the exhibit site.
His works have found their way in international art fairs in Hongkong, Singapore, Taiwan and New York City.
Of his favorite artist Frida Kahlo, he said, "I admire her self-suffering, her stoicism and passion for creating art despite her disability. When I was bedridden with a serious kind of flu, I couldn't paint, I was collapsing. My landlady took pity and cooked all my meals. But Frida was able to paint. Her kind of surrealism influenced me much. I consider her the Queen of Painting." - Elizabeth Lolarga