Mightier with a pen, more expressive with ink

Published June 1, 2021, 1:44 PM

by Rom Mallick

Duane Lucas Pascua explains his art

People often say that watercolor is the most difficult medium to paint with. It dries easily and can be quite tedious when it comes to combining colors. On the opposite end, some say that the easiest is pen and ink. After all, who has not tried to doodle a few figures here and there when they were bored, right?

Still, this does not mean that pen and ink are easy mediums—and not everyone who can scribble shapes can make art. This makes self-taught visual artist Duane Lucas Pascua an artist worth his salt.

Duane Lucas Pascua

Born and raised in the slums of QC, Duane says that he has never gotten any formal education in the arts. “I started drawing things around me when I was seven and I’ve never stopped,” he tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. Like other artists who learned their craft on their own, he did and continues to do a lot of observing.

“I learned a lot from different artists that have become my friends over the years,” he says. “I was basically learning by observing how they work and trying their techniques on my own.”

Here we chat with Duane to get to know the 33-year-old artist a bit more.

Can you tell us how you’ve managed to build your career in art?

I’ve pursued quite a few odd jobs while maintaining my career as an artist. I’ve been a waiter, call center agent, advertising copywriter, film critic, freelance writer, actor, physical trainer, English teacher, dance instructor, and even professional fighter. All throughout, however, I’ve never lost my grip on making drawings. It’s like an anchor that keeps me from drifting away from myself. If there’s anything that can single-handedly define me as a person, it’s my love and passion for making art.

How would you describe your art and yourself as an artist?

My work is of pen and ink drawings. It’s my medium of choice. I chose this because I used to scribble a lot of drawings on my notebooks when I was in school, and because I couldn’t afford oil paint or other expensive art materials when I was younger.

‘Face The Wall’

To describe my style and me as an artist, I feel it’s best to break it down into several aspects:

1. Human anatomy. I’ve always been drawn to the human form. It’s the foundation of the development of my visual style. I enjoy exploring different body types and the infinite visual intricacies each can bring to the table.

2. Minimalism. I never crowd my works with too many elements as I feel they would distract people from what I want them to see. I never put anything in the artwork more than I need to. I tell the complete story with just one (or two) character(s).

3. People and their stories. I like people—a lot! I love listening to their stories and developing relationships with them. And, sometimes, I tell their stories through my artworks. By what they wear or what they’re doing or how they are posed, you’ll get an idea of who they are and what they’re about. No words needed.

4. Sexuality and desire. As most of my works feature bare human bodies, sometimes the themes would touch on sexuality. I never shied away from this subject. I’ve always found how people treat the subject of sexuality and desire to be fascinating, especially in this mostly Christian country. I also want to expound on sex positivity and overcoming the guilt and shame surrounding the idea of sex.

5. Film noir. I’ve been a fan of film noir ever since I was a kid and I was drawn to the striking beauty of how shadows give depth and drama to black and white characters.

‘In the Stars I Find You’

Where do you draw inspiration for your works?

People. I find inspiration in the people I meet. Some of them I admire, some I befriended, some I love—but all of them fascinate me.

Also, I’m inspired by the works of great artists. Some of the ones I follow today are Shohei Otomo, Juan Francisco Casas, Apollonia Saint Claire, Soey Milk, Kiko Capile, and Kerby Rosanes. I also find inspiration from classic ones like Rembrandt, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Michaelangelo.

Do you have a particularly favorite piece that you’ve done? Which is it, and why?

There was this artwork I’ve made of a friend of mine who has sadly passed away recently. Her name was Karen. The title of the artwork is “Right Through Me.”

‘Right Through Me’

Karen was a burlesque performer, among many things. I’ve seen her perform on stage and, despite her endomorphic physique, Karen has this inexplicable energy of confidence that emanates from her every move. Her size never impeded her powerful zest to perform in front of an audience without fear of judgment or ridicule, and further express her love for her skin. By doing so, she has inspired many people to accept and love their bodies in whichever shape, size, or color they may be.

Karen is shown bare naked—folds, cellulite, and all—with her back slightly turned toward the audience. It’s not necessarily a proud stance, and yet her face tells a different story. She stares right through you with eyes that show defiance over fear. Acceptance over doubt. Bravery despite uncertainty.

Within a single compelling stare, Karen showed the world what tremendous courage is all about. The artwork was well received and was sold during the exhibit opening. People kept pointing out the expression on her face. How it intrigued and inspired them at the same time. If I could make people forget about the body and instead look into the eyes of the person and see the life that floods through the windows of her soul, then I’ve truly done my job as an artist.


What do you think about young people who are interested in pursuing art?

I think artists or anyone pursuing the arts (regardless of age) are essential in any culture. Artists enable humanity to explore and uncover truths previously unknown or unseen, bringing out ideas and elements that may haven’t yet arisen in the general public consciousness. In a way, they expand the landscape of thought, help us understand ourselves better, and move cultures forward. They are dreamers who see beyond the norm and make us feel the range of emotions that make us human.

Any message you want to give to aspiring artists?

Keep working on your art and share it with the world. Honor your gift by working on it and sharing it.

[email protected] | IG: @duanelucas.pascua | FB: @duanelucaspascuaart