Art provides a unique means of coping in times of crisis. It allows artists to express themselves and for viewers to find common ground through the experiences of others. To try and deal with the effects of the pandemic, Filipino artist Epjey Pacheco has produced a large body of work exploring the psychological challenges of life during cascading lockdowns and his experiences with death. “Art has always been a way for me to express things I can’t put into words, feelings that I can’t comprehend,” he explains. “My work is a reflection of my state of mind, like a timestamp of whatever I was feeling or thinking at that moment.”
Pacheco’s Into The Haze series is a mixed-medium collection of greyscale works that wander into the foggy depths of isolation, anxiety, and pain. Even prior to this, his artwork was angsty and abrasive, touching on themes of mortality and despair. This new series, which is grounded in his first-hand experiences, is perhaps the bleakest to date. “The lockdowns have weighed on me hard,” he says. “Not seeing friends or loved ones. My father got sick with COVID. I had to camp out in the hospital for four days to secure a private room for him. I saw the emergency ward overwhelmed with patients and crying relatives in the lobby. I witnessed a person dying who couldn’t get admitted. It really fucked me up.”
即便在人类的危难时刻，艺术也可以为人们提供一种特别的应对方式，艺术家可藉此表达自我，而观众则能从他人的经历中获得共鸣，获得内心的疗愈。面对疫情带来的影响，菲律宾艺术家 Epjey Pacheco 创作了大量作品，探索接二连三的封锁所带来的心理挑战以及与死亡相关的亲身经历。他解释说：“艺术一直是我的一种表达方式，帮助我表达无法言喻的事物，以及难以理清的情感。我的作品折射出我的内心世界，就像一个个时间戳，记录下我在当下那一刻的感受或思考。”
Epjey 的《Into The Haze》(深入雾霭) 是一系列采用混合媒介创作的灰色调作品，带领观众走入孤立、焦虑和痛苦的迷雾深处。其实在此之前，他的作品也常常充满着焦虑和不快的氛围，探讨死亡和绝望这类主题，但从风格来说，这个基于他亲身经历而创作的系列可能是迄今为止最黯淡的。他说：“封锁给我带来了沉重的打击。我见不到朋友或亲人。我父亲也感染上了新冠肺炎，我在医院搭帐篷露宿了四天，只是为了让他能够排上床位。我看到急诊室里挤满了病人，大厅里都是哭泣的亲人，还亲眼目睹无法入院的人离世。这一切对我的打击很大。”
In the series, airbrush-stenciled fog and silhouetted mountains float mysteriously in the background. A wild creature, painted with ink, watercolor, and acrylic, roams the monochromatic landscape. “This is the damuho character I formulated specifically for the series,” Pacheco says, explaining that it’s a Tagalog derogatory term roughly translating to “savage” or “ignorant.”
“When things get out of hand and human instinct kicks in, survival and savagery ensue,” Pacheco says. “I distinctly remember that feeling in a local grocery store while looking for alcohol and masks as people went on panic buying sprees just before the start of the first lockdown.”
To portray these primitive instincts, Pacheco’s damuho is drawn like a primate or neanderthal, with unkempt hair, a muscular physique, and exposed nerves and tendons. In one illustration, he’s riding atop a rocket, and in another, he’s curled up drunk at the base of a goblet. “War and religion are some of the most common preoccupations of men,” he explains of these two drawings.
A mash-up of animal parts, other Catholic symbols, and confusing limbs are common motifs in other scenes. In several images, the damuho is seen unraveling as he stares into the mirror, a visualization of its rapidly declining mental state.
在其他作品中，动物部位、天主教符号和交缠的四肢也是常见的元素。在其中几幅作品中，镜子中的 Damuho 已处于几近崩溃的精神状态。
There’s an immediacy to Pacheco’s work, the feeling that he’s rushing to get his feelings down on paper while they’re still vivid in his mind and soul. Although the series was planned and based on a pile of sketches drawn beforehand, that directness is a result of his temperament and inspirations. “I’m very impatient, so I don’t like to wait around for oil paints to dry. I also like the fact that there’s no erasing once I make a mark with ink on paper—there are no do overs.” This is also true of tattoo art, which he draws direct reference from, particularly traditional tattoos with their angular shapes, bold lines, and condensed imagery.
Alongside Into The Haze, Pacheco created a diptych in baroque style, titled Fragility and Torment. These works are similarly done in black and white, but the scenes are much more complicated, with skeletal body parts and unsettling eyeballs throughout the composition.
Then there is his Safe Haven series, which revolves around the theme of searching for peace in a tempestuous world. In wanting to convey a sense of calm, he abandoned the blacks-and-whites of his previous series for soothing blues. “I wanted a serene feel to the series, as the name implies, hence the colors and softer textures,” he says. “I think I was trying to reassure myself that everything will be fine eventually, while in reality, I was really scared.”
除了《Into The Haze》(深入雾霭) ，Epjey 还创作了巴洛克风格的双联画，取名《Fragility》(脆弱) 和《Torment》(折磨) 。这些作品同样为黑白色，但有着更强烈的情绪，整个画面充斥着露骨与痛苦。
此外，他还创作了《Safe Haven》(安稳天堂) 系列，以柔和的蓝色调和严肃的气氛，来表达在动荡世界中寻求和平的主题。他说：“顾名思义，我想创作一个风格相对缓和的系列，颜色和纹理会和之前不大一样。我大概是想努力让自己相信，一切都会好起来的，但现实中的我其实充满恐惧。”
Through these turbulent months, his artwork has been a much-needed relief valve. In fact, he’s been more productive than ever during the pandemic. But that in itself is a manifestation of some problems. “The energy that fuels my work these days can be a bit toxic,” Pacheco notes. “It’s a product of inner turmoil. So I don’t know if I need to cut down a bit or what.”
Overall, he counts himself lucky. “I’m acutely aware of how much luckier I am than most. Being able to continue drawing and practicing my art in times like this has made me appreciate it all so much more.”
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Contributor: Mike Steyels
Chinese Translation: Olivia Li
供稿人: Mike Steyels
英译中: Olivia Li