May 6 to May 15, 2021
After experiencing difficulties during the pandemic in Manila, I impulsively decided to leave the city and stay in the isolated mountains of Tanay, Rizal for a few months. Being there alone, I was given the freedom to truly see and experience the beauty of nature. This refined my appreciation of the various colors that can be found in nature and thus also made my sense of colorization more acute. To add to this, I can say that his journey also awakened a sense of spirituality in me that also pushed me to search again for a deeper meaning of life. I felt lost at the time and had a lot of existential questions that needed answers.
In making these pictures, my initial intention is to portray a more peaceful and vibrant side of life. Nevertheless, my efforts unwittingly led me to also discover that there is a dark side and that violence in nature and in life cannot be separated from its innate beauty.
All of these images are the result of my experiences trying to discover the most hidden and remote places in Tanay. For example, one of my forays led me to discover a mostly unseen area that had a mass of mangroves lining the banks of a river. Immediately, I felt a sense of uneasiness and paranoia which I attempted to communicate in the titular work ‘Mangroves’.
The painting ‘River Crossing’ was a recounting of one of the things that I actually tried to do when I found myself near a seemingly shallow stream. My lack of experience and foolhardiness resulted in me almost losing my vehicle to the steadily rising river’s strong currents trying to cross it. This was my attempt to illustrate the intense feelings that came over me when I felt that I was truly in danger and that one can be powerless in facing the forces of nature.
‘Tropical Foliage 1 & 2’ was an exercise where I intended to highlight the vibrant colors of nature’s flora. I believe that in the back of my mind, I was trying to affirm that I experienced an awakening in myself, a ‘blooming’ if you will, as I was learning and acquiring many different skills not just only in my art but also in survival in which living in nature forces you to do. The way I used aggressive brushstrokes and thick and distressed textures is, I would say, the expression of the culmination of all my experiences during my stay; euphoria, peace, contentment, terror, loneliness, courage, recklessness,.. I wanted to convey my thoughts, feelings and discoveries during my escape.
Overall, this journey has given me the opportunity to develop new styles and techniques as well as new perspectives in my creative process in making art. I find that sometimes one has to make a decision to drop everything and journey to parts unknown. You just might be surprised by what you discover. “Solitude is where I place my chaos to rest and awaken my inner peace” – Nikki Rowe
Written for Joseph Tecson by Jeremiah Tecson