BALIK-TANAW

Karl Mata Hipol

Kablaaw! Kumusta! Hello!

My journey to painting started when I entered Emily Carr University of Art + Design to achieve a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. As a student painter, I have only been exposed and taught to Western artists, philosophies, and histories. As a result, undeniably, my paintings significantly echo the Western visual elements, techniques, and interpretations. As I advanced my practice, my studio professors brought up to me the concept of ‘Parallax,’—meaning the change in the observer’s point of view due to an apparent displacement of an object. In my case, myself—as a way to perceive my works from a new perspective.

“Ang hindi lumingon sa pinangalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan’ or ‘a person who does not look back at where they came from will not get to their destination,” a famous Filipino saying helps as a motivation for my new exploration. This time, I am embarking on a journey that looks back at Filipino History from the 16th to 18th century, before and during the Spanish colonization. In this process, my objective is to relearn Philippine art and architecture history, looking closely at the significant changes or developments. Ultimately, my goal is to reclaim, highlight, and celebrate Filipino identity and cultural heritage. Additionally, to comprehend my positionality, weave our stories, and disturb the ‘Filipino invisibility’ in the Canadian landscape. Finally, artist and author Ernesto Pujol’s ‘Decolonizing Walk’ also serves as my inspiration. In my case, I am using my body as the site of decolonization.

The title for my Graduation Exhibition page Balik-Tanaw is a Filipino word for retrospection. Here, I want to take you back and present my most recent explorations!


Burnaby Village Museum: 50th Anniversary Commemorative Arches 2022

“Tuloy po kayo,” 2022. Digital Collage. Commissioned by Burnaby Village Museum. Commemorative Arch Front design.
“Tuloy po kayo,” 2022. Digital Collage. Commissioned by Burnaby Village Museum.Commemorative Arch Back design.

Artist Statement

Tuloy po kayo! The title of my arch is a phrase commonly observed and used in the Philippines. When translated to English, the expression means, “Please, come in!” when Filipinos let someone enter their home or other spaces. Therefore, besides being a Filipino heritage site, my arch simultaneously serves as an invitation for everyone to explore our place and cultural heritage. Furthermore, the Filipino word ‘Tuloy’ has another meaning:  ‘Continue.’ Thus, my arch also becomes a significant emblem or blueprint for BVM’s continued support to Filipinos and the BIPOC community.

During my research through the online archives and during the tour, I found a lacking of representation of the Filipino diaspora and experiences. So, rather than finding elements from the collection directly related to Filipinos, I constructed a new architecture to be added to the existing collection in the Burnaby Village Museum.

To create the work, I reconfigured the Filipino method of building a ‘barong-barong (shanty) house.’ Contrary to the Kubo, the barong-barong house is an inadequately constructed temporary shelter using scavenged materials. Nevertheless, the Filipinos’ ingenuity, resourcefulness, and resilience are remarkable and worthy of sharing in this narrative. Furthermore, while emulating the barong-barong method, I collaged archival images (Blueprints) from the BVM’s permanent collection. Ultimately, my goal is to weave Filipino stories and values into Canada to enrich the stories from the perspective of the Asian diaspora.

*Currently viewable at the Burnaby Village Museum.


ECU: GRADUATION PROJECT

“Sawali: Blueprint of Reclamation,” 2022. Acrylic and Woven Archival Print on Tyvek. 100 X 40 inches.
Knee Gallery, ECU.
“Sawali: Blueprint of Reclamation,” 2022. Detail Photo. Acrylic and Woven Archival Print on Tyvek.
100 X 40 inches. Knee Gallery, ECU.

Artist Statement

The mixed media weaving develops from closely investigating the ‘Bahay Kubo’ or nipa hut as a starting place and a holder of layered meanings. To create the artwork, I used two photos: The first image — the weft—is the San Agustin Bell Tower from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) archives. The second photo—the warp—is of an Indigenous Tree House from the National Geography. Then, using Photoshop, I reconstructed the two images to create a blueprint-like effect. 

Interweaving the two archive photographs, I made them into a Sawali or Amakan, a prevalent building construction material used in Bahay Kubo found in the rural Philippines. However, due to the legacy of colonialism, this structure is associated with notions of deprivation and antipathy. So, I want to subvert those mentalities by highlighting, celebrating, and appreciating their value and beauty.

Moreover, I ask myself—a colonized immigrant settler—what it means to weave colonial and native architecture through the work. Letting go and allowing the weaving process to take the lead, what will the result look like? Does the final work reveal a visual interpretation of what an answer could be?


BURRARD ARTS FOUNDATION: THE GARAGE 2022

“Tagpi-tagpi,” 2022. Acrylic Painting and India Ink on Manila Paper. Assemblage. Dimensions Variable.
Burrard Arts Foundation.

Artist Statement

“Tagpi-tagpi” translates to the English language as patchy. It came from the root word Tagpi meaning patch. The installation abstractly and figuratively visualizes my knowledge with the elements presented, particularly the Baybayin. The art installation aims to gradually rebuild the Filipino’s broken identities by patching the lost and loose pages of history by reintroducing the Filipino language, the Baybayin script, and reconstructing traditional architectures such as the Bahay Kubo. Through the art installation, ‘The Garage’ at the Burrard Arts Foundation turns into a virtual space of demonstration, an act of decolonization and an education.

*Currently viewable at the Burrard Arts Foundation until June 12, 2022.

“Tagpi-tagpi,” 2022. Acrylic Painting and India Ink on Manila Paper. Assemblage. Dimensions Variable.
Detail Photography by Burrard Arts Foundation.
“Muling Pagtatayo” (Reconstruction), 2021. Acrylic, gouache, flashe, and Archival Inkjet Print on Canvas.
60 X 72 inches, Diptych.

“Untitled,” (Baybayin Series), 2019. Acrylic on BFK Rives Paper. Serigraphy. Varied edition of 2. 22 x 30 inches.
“Untitled,” (Baybayin Series), 2019. Acrylic on Stonehenge Paper. Serigraphy. Varied edition of 2. 22 x 30 inches.
“Kalayaan,” (Freedom), 2019. India ink on Accent Opaque Vellum and Serigraph on Stonehenge Paper. Collage. 22 x 30 inches.
“Ama, Ina, Anak,” (Father, Mother, Child), 2019. India ink on Accent Opaque Vellum and Serigraph on Stonehenge Paper. Collage. 22 x 30 inches.

CENTRE A: Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

Centre A, Holiday Art Market. Installation Photography by Khim Hipol
“Ginintuang Amakan 01,” (Golden Amakan), 2021. Woven Archival Inkjet Print on Rag Paper and Metallic Paper. 6 X 7 inches. Centre A, Holiday Art Market.
“Amakan 01,” 2021. Woven Archival Inkjet Print on Rag Paper and Metallic Paper. 6 X 7 inches.
Centre A, Holiday Art Market.
“Ginintuang Amakan 02,” (Golden Amakan), 2021. Woven Archival Inkjet Print on Rag Paper and Metallic Paper. 6 X 7 inches. Centre A, Holiday Art Market.

ECU X PATIO PRESS FELLOWSHIP

“Weaving Offcuts,” 2021. Collagraph. Varied edition of 4. 6 X 8 inches.
“Amakan,” 2021. Linocut. Limited edition of 15. 11 X 11 inches.

Fall 2021 Emily Carr University X PATIO PRESS Fellowship recipient.

Printed in November 2021 by Kail Liu and Yuan Wen

Photography by: Patio Press


OTHER EXHIBITIONS


CURATORIAL PROJECTS

“BEYOND THE HORIZON,” Gordon Smith Gallery

Beyond the Horizon is an expression that encourages us to consider what is “farther than the possible limit, beyond what we can foresee, know or anticipate”.1 It is both visual – what we see – and conceptual – what we know. The horizon as a metaphor provides an opportunity to challenge and evaluate our own ways ok knowing. The artists in this exhibition expand conventional uses of materials and explore modes of making through collaboration with other artists and the land.

1 thefreedictionary.com

Installation Photography by Khim Hipol

“ANG PAGLALAKBAY,” FKA the Faculty Gallery

Ang Paglalakbay (The Journey) is a re-installation and a survey of my paintings from 2019 to 2021. Here, I am taking the initiative and direction to bring my personal touch and interpretation to my artworks.

My “Abstract Blueprint Paintings” significantly reflect my lived experiences as a Filipino immigrant and student-artist residing in Canada, exploring history, process, and immigration as the themes. I create multi-layered, dimensional paintings that draw viewers to reflect, visualize, and explore. As a result, I produce images that I have not seen before. These new pictures evolve through enigmatic blends: flat but dimensional, chaotic but organized, noisy but calm—a juxtaposition of unlikely combinations, belonging amongst categories that may be complementary and contrary.

Installation Photography by Khim Hipol


Karl Mata Hipol

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