Artist Mark Andy Garcia chronicles his life experiences not with a pen and paper, but with a paintbrush and canvas. He is the first to admit that his paintings are autobiographical, using expressionist images that recall close personal relationships. His fifth solo exhibit, Acquainted with the Night, follows that tradition.
This time, however, he wants to focus more on the light that comes after the dark periods of his life. “You can see that I’ve added more colors,” says Garcia, as he looks up to the older generation for nuggets of wisdom and inspiration, leaving behind the high emotion of youth. It is through them that he explores the viability of human relationships, particularly marriage and family life. It is no surprise that his parents play a significant role here. One work features them happily reunited in the next life. Another zooms in on the stability of the marriage of an older couple. He adds that he purposely restricted himself to one self-portrait, as he wanted to concentrate on representing other people, especially those he highly respected for their broader perspective on life.
In referencing deeply personal subjects, Garcia says he largely draws from memory. The works thus become a visual investigation into both past and present circumstances. The process, though, may take months. This is because he spends so much time just thinking about what to paint. Only when the concept is fully formed does he begin to spontaneously execute it on the canvas. Each work then becomes a study of man’s resilience over life’s many trials. Garcia finds inspiration in a quote from Van Gogh: “…that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.” This explains why he veered away from using totally dark backgrounds, using splashes and blotches of color here and there to hint at the brightness of the moon and the stars. “There is indeed a more positive perspective,” notes Garcia, gradually introducing lighter hues to initially plain black backgrounds.
Garcia, an advertising graduate at Technological University of the Philippines and finalist at the 2011 Philippine Art Awards, knows he still has a lot to learn, and must continue exploring – both as an artist and as a person. In fact, he sees little difference between the two. As he strives to work on improving on both fronts, Garcia says painting has taught him extensively, not just on developing formal techniques and styles, but a thing or two on life as well.