Thursday, January 23, 2014

An interview conducted by Raymond Ang/The Philippine STAR.

Young artists Tof Zapanta and Mano Gonzales — two illustrators who’ve individually cultivated strong online followings — are collaborating on an exhibit titled ‘I Practice Detachment.’

YOUNG STAR: How did you guys meet? Tell me about how you decided to work together.

TOF ZAPANTA: We met at Bloom Arts Festival 2013. I was looking for artists to invite to participate in the show, and, honestly, hadn’t heard of Mano, until (artist) Tokwa (Penaflorida) suggested him and showed me his work. I instantly saw, I guess, a certain similarity with my style, with my pencil drawings, that is, and actually inspired me to start doing more pencil works again, as during that time I was practically doing everything digital. So when the opportunity came and I was offered a space to exhibit, I immediately thought of Mano and how our styles would complement one another — this has yet to be seen, though, as we haven’t seen each other’s work, and will just see them during set-up, so yes, part of that makes this exciting even for us.

From what I’ve seen so far, it looks like the exhibit deals with parallelisms. How different and how similar are your styles?

MANO GONZALES: Since this is a two-man show I think it’s very difficult not to think about parallelism. We actually just thought of a concept we’re very familiar with and let each other explore the concept on our own. It would be very interesting to see what themes will emanate from the exhibit.

TOF: I am actually just discovering Mano’s works, I mean I am still in the process of understanding how he thinks, as before we started talking about the show we were basically strangers, only exchanging “Hi”s and “Hello”s. The similarities, though, are very evident, not in terms of physical style (medium, yes, but execution, not so much), but more of mood and composition, and tension. Very similar, in fact, that when we discussed what we wanted to work on and why, we were already basically aligned, so the initial meeting didn’t take more than an hour. Plus we’re both left-handed. (Laughs)

What is this exhibit about? What influences you?

TOF: The show is about our current personal situation. When I talked to Mano about what he wanted to exhibit, he mentioned something about strangers, something about being with people, but being alone. And I instantly related to it, in a way that I wanted an exhibit about detachment, about how I enjoy solitude once in a while, doing things alone — eating, watching a movie, going to an event, and how this is a recurring thing in my life, like a part of a cycle.

MANO: I am personally influenced by strangers and being in very unfamiliar places, seeing things alien to me. I think there is something so fascinating about that. The show is about detachment and all the things we can associate with it. Detachment from the environment, the people around us, even from ourselves. We live in a world where everything seems to be intertwined but at the same time there is a huge disconnect between things. When Tof and I first talked, we noticed that it’s something that we both understand and it’s something that we are very drawn to. We wanted to explore that and show that through this exhibit. Also, we are practically strangers so we thought it would be a nice idea to incorporate that into the show.

Cheesy question: What does Tof/Mano do well that you want to be better at in your own work/practice?

MANO: Tof is one of the artists I really look up to and respect. It’s so rare to see an artist who uses different types of medium and does each one very well. His works strike you mentally and emotionally. I hope that’s something I can also accomplish in the future. I also want to be able to inspire young artists the way he inspires young artists like me.

TOF: Mano can do a “flag” (with his body), even when I was part of the track team of DLSU and weighed just a little over a hundred pounds I couldn’t do that. And every article of clothing fits him perfectly, it’s unfair! (Laughs)

The exhibit “I Practice Detachment” is a two-man show featuring works on paper by Tof Zapanta and Mano Gonzales happening this Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, at 6 p.m., Altro Mondo at the Picasso in Makati.

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