Tuesday, March 30, 2010

ARTIST IN RESIDENCE ] Patty Eustaquio and her dear, sweet, not-so-filthy new space


The first time I saw an exhibition of works by Patty Eustaquio, it felt like I suddenly was allowed entry into an empty auditorium and, while there was no orchestra or some sort of piped-in music, an aria was definitely being sung somewhere--you almost expect a soprano to enter from the backroom. It mattered little that the venue, the sLab space of the Silverlens galleries, used to be an auditorium and piano school, and that the title of the exhibition was Death to the Major, Viva Minor.

It was a rare occasion of fabulosity in the usually same-same mood of art openings. There was something so grand about the atmosphere that evening, the space full of beautiful things. Open hearts of animals in canvases the shape of fowls in graceful flight. A white violin sliced to reveal what seems to me a heart. A crochet lace piano cover--dyed the color of tea to make it seem old, soaked in epoxy so that it stands as if draped into an invisible piano. Everything evocative of the things one associates with Patty: a penchant for old things, a languorous femininity, a beautiful kind of sadness.


Her new show, also at sLab, which I haven't seen, seems a continuation of the motif that began with that show from 2009. In this one, however, the music is specific. She has chosen Elvis Costello's "Dear Sweet Filthy World" (also the title of the show) to become sort of a musical score for her new works: oil paintings, cardboard sculptures, and boats cut from felt and, much like her much-loved 'piano,' cast in epoxy resin.

We asked Patty about her new works, her new studio (photographs of which she very kindly snapped for Swank) and the lyrical quality of her pieces.

Describe your new space, the size of it, the look---from when you found it to how it looks now.
I love my new space because I've never had so much space to work in. It's a high-ceilinged open type space. It was a storage room when I found it, so it required a lot of work: a lot of cleaning, plumbing. I built rooms just so I have some privacy, but the entire flat is my work space.

How much time do you spend in your workspace?
I hardly ever leave the studio.

The show in Silverlens were all created in this new space? Would you say the space in a way have touches of influences on the works?
Yes, I made everything in the new space. I don't think I would have managed to make such big pieces if I didn't have the new space. But I did already have all the works in mind, which is why I was in such a rush to move in.

What drew you to Costello's "Dear Sweet Filthy World," a suicide note with music?
I love Elvis Costello--three out of four solo exhibits were titled after his songs. But I particularly cling to "Juliet Letters" because I love the irreverence of the content, the mix of violins with this sound that still sounds new to me, even if I've heard it a million times. "Dear Sweet Filthy World" is just so melodramatic that it's funny. Not laugh-out-loud funny, but the kind where you shake your head and say I can't believe someone can sing and play this mockery so beautifully like Elvis.


The first time I went inside sLab and you had a show, there was something not just plain musical, but operatic about the entire space and the pieces (and not only because there was a crocheted piano)---do you like working with music? Is it an essential part of how you work?
I do listen to music while I work, and usually when I'm feeling particularly dim about my work, I go about searching for new music to listen to. I'm drawn to music with beautiful lyrics--- probably because I spend nearly all my time alone so it's almost conversation. But also because I find that new music challenges me to put things together in a way I haven't tried. I do like songs that have an operatic feel, Costello is a lot like that. Antony and the Johnsons is an artist I listened to 24/7 a couple of years ago until I tired myself out. I think I like music that feels big and old, but is also so contemporary in its sensibility so that you feel like there's an amplification of what's going on, albeit a non-mainstream event.

Since we're talking about your new space, what's your favorite area/element in it?
I have tall windows lining an entire side of the cube, so I get lots of light all day. I have a view of parts of the gritty city, but there are hills beyond, Laguna de Bay and Makiling in view especially on a clear day. It's quite something to wake up to. It gives you perspective of where you are and what you have.

How do you begin a day?
Two espresso shots, toast and fruit. I'm a creature of habit. If something ruins my routine, I find it hard to work the rest of the day.

Dear Sweet Filthy World is on exhibit from March 17 to April 17, 2010. It runs simultaneously with POSTLOCAL: Painting with Bruihn, Nona Garcia, Anna Varona, curated by Isa Lorenzo; A Country
Road. A Tree. by Jet Pascua.

On April 17, Saturday from 3-5pm Eustaquio elaborates on Dear Sweet Filthy World, where the construction of memory is built alongside her narrative "to convey the irony of our feeling towards reality, the realities in life, the world."

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