‘Tabi-tabi,’ an act we can no longer do due to the pandemic
For years, Filipino artist Julius Redillas has stood out with his signature red-hued thread lines in his artworks overwhelming with facial expressions and eerily unreal feelings. Each subject tells a different story, focused on inviting the viewer to take a closer look.
“I have always used the same style ever since. They are the usual signature red-hued thread lines that are visceral and flesh-like. I use these lines like a gestural brush stroke to depict each feature on my subject,” says Redillas.
At the Manila Bang Show Art Fest International, Redillas took his moments of reflection on this ongoing pandemic to create his works for “Tabi-tabi.”
“My exhibit ‘Tabi-tabi’ is a series of large acrylic paintings on canvas. Like my previous works, the subjects I presented for the show were portraitures and figures. This time, however, I made them hardly distinguishable and almost abstract by attempting to combine figuration and abstraction. The word ‘tabi-tabi’ is a Filipino word that means closer together or side by side—an act which we can no longer do due to the pandemic. It is also a phrase someone utters to make sure we don’t offend or disturb an unseen creature. These two definitions of the word reflect our current situation during this time of pandemic,” he says.
Redillas’ work is also characterized by the familiarity and relatability of his characters. “I want my works to be relatable. Like a character from a novel you’d be interested to know. The stories behind each work I made is always my favorite. Identity has always been one of the central themes of my works. Usually, I strip my subject to reveal something that is familiar to the viewer. I find it interesting that by making my subjects obscure, the viewer can see what they want to see in my work,” he notes.
In order to create his well-known characters, Redillas’ inspiration and creativity start from reading his favorite books. For him, reading before painting helps him keep his focus and keeps his brain from wandering too much, plus it prevents him from overthinking.
“I paid more importance to my mental health. I noticed that during pandemic, people easily get anxious and lonely. It is very necessary to reach out to friends and loved ones to at least compensate for the lack of physical or face-to-face interaction. It is challenging because you don’t get to be physically present with other artists and creatives during exhibitions, especially since I live outside Manila. On the other hand, the pandemic gave me more time to produce works because I am stuck in my studio,” he says.
Through it all, art is what has kept Redillas sane all this time.
I think art answers the questions that don’t have answers yet. While scientists, mathematicians, and other experts are trying to find the answer, art is there to fill in so we don’t get bored or insane.
“I think art answers the questions that don’t have answers yet. While scientists, mathematicians, and other experts are trying to find the answer, art is there to fill in so we don’t get bored or insane,” he ends.
The Manila Bang: Art Fest International 2021 showcased works of contemporary artists from the Philippines and other countries. It was organized by Galerie Roberto. www.galerieroberto.com