Artist Mikiboy Pama creates portraits of devastation and reminds us that the artist and his or her artwork should be active parts of change
‘We can’t deny the reality. The main issue today is climate change. This is what’s happening.’
For contemporary artist Mikiboy Pama, art without substance is a waste of craft. A painting should not just demonstrate beauty or the artist’s skills, but must stop people, make them look beyond the image, and urge action. Since early in his career, it has been Pama’s mission to make his viewers see the world through his art. If the headlines aren’t enough to make people notice, trust that his portraits are constant reminders of what’s happening now and what’s ahead.
Pama started his career in the arts in 2004 at La Consolacion College–Bacolod, where he took up Fine Arts. Fresh out of rehab due to depression, he used art to steer his life into the right path. What started out as a hobby unfolded into a much more meaningful journey.
“For me, it was an awakening. Tough experiences and sometimes being caught up in a ‘series of unfortunate events’ taught me a great deal about coping through art,” he says. “For me it was therapy, it was healing, it was something more than what I could comprehend. Anxieties and depression come and go but I’ve learned to dim those intrusive thoughts and channel them through distorted shapes and colored forms.”
If being ‘woke’ is a unique trait of the Gen Zs, could we consider Pama a Gen Z artist? His works are inspired by local and global current events, even politics depicted through social realism and other experimental concepts. The latest concern he is trying to convey through his canvas is climate change.
“I believe this is a vast and critical subject to tackle since this is where global politics and capitalism get involved,” Pama says. “We can’t deny the reality. The main issue today is climate change. This is what’s happening.”
Imagine a post-apocalyptic world where days feel like endless nights as the ash-filled sky covers the earth. Pama paints a world suffering from climate change and at the forefront of his canvases are its first casualties—the animals.
Barren lands with coliseums and pyramids can be seen in his Babylonian Conspiracy and Hybridization Frenzy paintings with beasts roaring and coming together as if anticipating the arrival of Noah’s Ark.
Drifting in a Damned Wonderland is a metaphorical view of what the world is today with people at the center, just watching or waiting to be saved.
A testament to his mixed-media aesthetic is the Calamity Diary and Decaying Time, which showcases his flair for unusual forms matched with unconventional materials, such as medicine wrappers, cigarette butts, torn newspapers, tree bark, and bones.
Call it premonition or the idea of life imitating art, but some of his works antedate the recent devastation caused by Typhoon Odette in the Visayas and Mindanao. Right before the world greeted 2022, Pama has been busy working on the “Art Heals” initiative to send help to the areas that were perished by the typhoon together with the Orange Project, a group of artists in Bacolod. He believes that artists should play a more active role in change and making it happen.
“Art is everything, art is a community. Without the community, art is nothing. Community is a key substance in art,” he says. “ to include the community and to have it involved in the process. Art must be interactive and, at the same time, collective. One of the things I must accomplish as an artist is not to be neutral but to be loud yet visually creative in imposing a positive outlook.”
Visit @missingmikiboy on Instagram and ArtHeals Fundraising to know more about how you can participate in the cause.