Survival. That is, perhaps, the theme of 2020 for most of us. The year that was and the year that people would rather forget. But part of survival is facing what has been and turning it into what could be—and this is a key difference between those who made the most of the past year and those who didn’t.
For young artist Herminio Tan, it was more of the former. While on lockdown, he managed to find his focus and reinvent his art. He tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle his story, and how his art made a 180-degree turn.
How much have the lockdowns, especially the early months, affected you as an artist?
The early months of the lockdowns were nerve-wracking. All of my exhibits were cancelled because of the pandemic, for example. The stores where I usually buy my art materials were all closed… So, during the lockdown I had to get by with what I already had on hand.
But this pandemic gave me that epiphany to appreciate life more. So it made me take that leap of faith to quit my day job and become a full time artist.
As an artist, how have you been spending your quarantine days?
I spent my days developing my craft and myself.
You have a new aesthetic for your sculptures. What has inspired this?
Oh there are several inspirations. The pandemic. Climate Change. False intelligence. Recessions. Polarized beliefs. Divisions… The list goes on.
Fiction is tamer than what we have now. I’m sure even Voldemort or Sauron will flinch if they see the news today. President Snow would look like an intern. Reality has become darker than fantasy.
So as an artist, I changed direction from dark horror art to nostalgic fantasy art.
I think it wouldn’t hurt a bit to make artworks that will make someone’s day better. A little push to the realm of beautiful fantasy, perhaps. An itsy bitsy ray of sunshine for the tired dreamer, a speckle of hope for someone who’s losing his grip.
Do you believe the arts have a role in helping humankind through this pandemic?
Yes. Art is a bookmark of history. Self expression and people’s projection through art, I think, helped a lot of people scream out what they have been feeling in this pandemic.
Where do you draw inspiration for this kind of art now? Has it been easier for you these days or tougher?
I draw my new inspirations from mythologies, folklores, children’s stories, sea creatures, anything that shows life. Surprisingly, for me, after planning things through, I’m getting used to this ‘new normal’ in the art industry—from doing exhibits to meeting new clients, all done virtually.
Is there something you think artists should be doing these days that they haven’t been doing?
Any message to your fellow artists? Or a message to Pinoys, in general?
Follow your heart by using your brain.
Check out more of his new works below.
Follow Herminio Tan on IG: @herminiotanarts