Happiness comes in many forms. In art, it may be visualized as pops of vivid colors or as warmly lit scenes conjured from an artist’s fondest memories. But in Gian Miroe’s work, none of that exists. In one painting, a three-eyed alligator is shown devouring the head of a topless man; he lies motionless on tiled floors, while a barely visible knife lays next to him. Titled Monsters Bleeding Society, this single painting encompasses the body of work the Filipino painter dabbles in: the flip side of happiness.
幸福的形式是多样的，它可以是鲜艳明快的颜色，或是唤醒美好记忆的温暖画面。但在菲律宾画家 Gian Miroe 的作品中，突如其来的却是幸福的对立面，甚至令人惶恐不安。在他的一幅作品中，人形三眼短吻鳄正在吞食一名男子的头部，男子上身赤裸，平躺在瓷砖地板上，一把匕首横在旁边。这幅名为《Monsters Bleeding Society（流血恶魔团）》的作品，足以映证 Gian 作品主题：幸福的背面。
Growing up, Miroe has always had a penchant for art. During university, he majored in advertising at Technological University of the Philippines, but in his junior year, he decided he wanted to pursue art as a career instead and joined an art club, leaving advertising as a back-up plan. When his art club hosted an open-theme competition for students, he was encouraged by other club members to join. Miroe was convinced to sign up, and his painting featuring a woman with ram horns won him a cash prize and painting supplies.
He also caught the attention of Filipino artist Lynyrd Paras, who attended the competition as an audience member. They talked after the competition, finding they had a lot in common, and Paras took in Miroe as an apprentice from 2013 to 2017. During his apprenticeship, Miroe began to transition from brighter tones to darker, subdued shades, which he saw as more fitting to capture the sinful pleasures of mankind—a topic he was fascinated by.
从小到大，Gian 一直钟情于艺术。虽然他曾在菲律宾科技大学主修广告专业，但他毅然坚持追求艺术事业，并在大三时加入了学校的艺术社团，后来广告则成为了他的备选课程。他所在的艺术社团举办了一场面向学生的开放主题比赛，在社团成员的鼓励下，Gian 报名参加了这场比赛。他的参赛作品是一个长着羊角的女人，这幅绘画作品为他赢得了奖金和一些美术用品。
那一次，他还引起了菲律宾艺术家 Lynyrd Paras 的注意。比赛结束后，两人在聊天中发现彼此有很多共同点，后来 2013年到 2017 年期间，Lynyrd 还把 Gian 收为门徒。在这段学徒生涯中，Gian 的创作开始从明亮色调转为灰暗、阴郁的色调。他认为这种色调更适合呈现人类罪恶的快感 —— 这是他作品中一直探讨的主题。
With these moody palettes, the themes that Miroe painted also began to shift as he began examining the dark side of humanity. In So Many Teeth Made for Lies Work, mouths bearing gritted teeth or with stuck-out tongues have entirely replaced the facial features of a female figure. Instead of eyes, a nose, ears, or collar bones, everything is just teeth and tongues. “It’s about people who preach and teach, but don’t walk the talk and just spew out lies,” he explains. “Every time they open their mouth, you can expect that they’ll speak ill of something or someone. People like this exist and what’s worse is that we’re surrounded by them.”
Apart from scathing commentary, Miroe also touches on difficult emotions, such as is the case with Sentimental Value. A woman in frame is chewing on a skeletal arm while kneeling on the tiled floor. As she looks up to the viewer, blood drips from her mouth and onto her body. Her almond eyes glisten from unshed tears and eye bags make her look exhausted. “We know people who have lost a valuable thing, person, or event in their life, but here, it depicts how we cling to that loss, so much that we try to imagine as if they were still here,” he explains. “Even if they came back, we would never receive its entirety, but just a part of it: perhaps a memory, a longing, or a quarter of what it had been.”
随后，Gian 的作品随色调发生了扭转，他开始更多地去审视人性的黑暗面。在《So Many Teeth Made for Lies Work（满齿谎言）》中，女性的面部特征完全被牙齿和舌头代替。他解释说：“这是在指那些一味说教的人，他们的言行不一，满口谎言。每次他们一张嘴，你就能知道他们又要说某人或某件事的坏话。这样的人不仅存在，更糟糕的是，他们就在我们身边。”
除了表达尖锐的论调，Gian 试着通过作品探讨复杂的情感问题，譬如他的《Sentimental Value（情深难却）》。一名女子跪在瓷砖地板上，啃着骨瘦如柴的手臂。她抬头凝视着观众，四周鲜血四溅。女子双眼中泛着泪光，一脸憔悴。对于作品，Gian 解释说：“有些人曾在生活中失去重要的人或事物，但这幅画所描述的是人们对于这种失去的执着，以至于试图想象它／他们尚在身边。即使失而复得，我们也不可能得到完整的全部，顶多是其中的一部分：可能是一段回忆、一种渴望，或者是曾经的残肢断臂。”
In Feel Me, Fill Me, neatly arranged polka dots painted in colorful pastels fill a white background; in the foreground, a woman with desaturated skin gazes at the viewer with fatigue. The bottom half of her face is unpainted, replaced with uneven smudges of red, orange, pink, white, cream, brown, blue, black, yellow, and green. It’s almost as if the lower part of the canvas itself was used as the palette on which he mixed his colors. “It’s a depiction of how people are never content,” Miroe says. “In this painting, the woman keeps looking for something more, even though she already has everything she wished for, to the point that she has become so worn out and neglects other things in her life.”
在《Feel Me, Fill Me（感受我，填满我）》中，罕见的浅彩色圆点图案铺成画面的背景；一个面色惨淡的女人空洞地望向前方，她的下半张脸没有上色，取而代之的是混乱的十种色彩，像是画家的调色板。Gian 解释说：“这幅画要表达的是人性的贪得无厌。画中的女人一直在寻找更多的东西，即使她早已拥有了想要的一切，直至她变得疲惫不堪，也因此忽略了生活中更丰富的色彩。”
First impressions and outer appearances are a core theme throughout Miroe’s art. “Most of the time, people base their judgment not on personality, but on people’s looks. It’s only when we get to know these people that we can conclude whether our first impressions are spot on or they just distort our perception. Whatever the situation may be, everyone has their ugly side. While in some people you can see it right off the bat, others may take a while before they reveal that side of them and you can see who they are.”
His paintings are often titled as questions, such as Is That a Safe Place to Hide? and What’s Your Purpose? These titles allude to the underlying themes of each piece, which are based on his observations of a reality that’s far from rosy. As such, negativity runs rampant in his work. All seven cardinal sins have also appeared within his work, though this isn’t a theme that he’s consciously looking to broach. It just so happens that these different forms of immortality all shape his understanding of the world, a drastic change from his younger years when he held a happy-go-lucky outlook.
强烈的第一印象和外表是贯穿 Gian 作品的特点。“大多时候，人们总以外貌而不是个性来评判他人。只有当我们了解了对方，才能确定自己的第一印象是不是对的，还是说我们被第一印象影响了自己的看法。无论哪种情况，每个人都有自己丑陋的一面。只不过有的人你一眼就能看出来，而有的人可能需要一段时间才会展现出自己的另一面，这时你才能看清他们真实的面貌。”
As he got older, he began paying attention to what was happening right before his eyes: crime, poverty, and one’s disillusion over what happiness means. “My paintings aim to expose the pain behind happiness, which is a never-ending process. This is why I’ve told myself that art is dangerous,” he says. For Miroe, it seems impossible to feel and be happy at all times. Through his body of work, he shows how happiness can be a form of escapism, but this can also disconnect people from reality, which may cause more harm than help. On the other hand, when art isn’t afraid of pointing out the wounds and hurts of reality, it can help viewers reflect and pluck up the courage to overcome the pain and disappointments they may encounter in life.
年纪越大，Gian 越开始关注自己眼前的一切：犯罪、贫穷和幻灭。“我的作品旨在揭示幸福背后的痛苦，那是一个永无止境的过程。这也是为什么我总跟自己讲，艺术很危险，”他说道。对于 Gian 来说，无时无刻的快乐是不切实际的。他通过自己的作品，证明了快乐可能是一种逃避现实的方式，这也会导致人们脱离现实，最后不但帮不了人们，甚至会适得其反。另一方面，当艺术不再害怕揭露现实的伤疤，反而可以帮助观众反思并鼓起勇气克服生活中的痛苦与失望。
Like our stories? Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
Contributor: Matthew Burgos
Chinese Translation: Olivia Li
供稿人: Matthew Burgos
英译中: Olivia Li