Psychedelic Warfare with Artu Nepomuceno
Photos by Ramon Ruiz
At the loft of the newly launched Julian Ongpin Young Artists (JOYA) Gallery hung the works of young commercial photographer Artu Nepomuceno. Entitled “Psychedelic Warfare,” the series, curated by gallery owner Julian Ongpin, was Artu’s initial abstract offering – a “chronicled exploration of the phases of life lost and gained in a single process,” as he puts it.
Creating the pieces took a while, says the 25-year-old AB Photography major from the College of St. Benilde, admitting that more than the process of photographing, what took him a long time was getting his subjects ready. “I probably went through a thousand images and more often than not I (would) get an image of nothing – completely blank. It was a hard process, and at times I felt like a sniper hunting for something until I eventually found it,” he narrates.
“The first stage was creating the mixtures and that was frustrating by itself because the colors are not always achievable,” he continues. Looking at the pieces, one is hit by the sensation that the colors are undulating, and that anytime the dots and lines would start moving away from the (pearl) photo paper from which they are printed and head straight for you.
“That’s exactly what I want from my audience – to think deep and feel intensely, to have their own comprehension of the art and let it be a guiding hand to whatever implications they are going through at the moment,” he states. After all, Artu’s objective in creating the series is for the pieces to read like an open book where people can look at them, try to get their own understanding of the work and interpret it in their own way.
“The reason why I call the series ‘Psychedelic Warfare’ was that for me, coming up with the pieces was like going on a journey of self discovery and self exploration as an artist, while the psychedelic part was born from what came of it – the burst of colors, the movement, the swirls. And immediately when I saw it all together in my computer, it hit me: ‘This is so psychedelic’!”
Donning a baseball cap, sporting a necklace with the hippie peace symbol as a pendant, and wearing a wide smile on his face as he posed in front of one of his pieces, it’s easy to see why he was one of the two artists whose works were featured at the launch of JOYA – a new contemporary art gallery that is set on showcasing emerging international artists alongside a select stable of the country’s emerging and most inspired artistic talent.
And artistic talent, indeed, runs through the veins of Artu – considering that his great grandfather was Jose Nepomuceno, acknowledged as the “Father of Philippine movies” having produced the first Filipino silent film entitled Dalagang Bukid – and grandfather Luis Nepomuceno who is also a well-respected director of famous Filipino movies such as Igorota and Dahil sa Isang Bulaklak (the first Filipino film to be shot in color by De Luxe). An uncle, Cobo Nepomuceno, is a hyperrealist painter, and he was also one of the reasons why the young man grew up appreciating art.
“Both my grandfather and great grandfather started out as photographers,” Artu reveals, adding that he learned to love the industry of movie making without him even knowing it as he imbibed the stories about his great grandfather – helping him realize the kind of calling he had as a photographer. “After doing a year and a half as an events photographer, I realized that it was not something that I truly loved to do.” And so he took a gamble and invested his savings into an ice cream sandwich business called Louie-Luis, which served as a cash cow that helped him explore his craft and find his true love in the art of photography – taking portraits and fashion, getting help from several people that made him become popular with commercial and private clients.
“Fine art photography has always been something I daydreamed of getting into, but never felt ready for. In reflection to that, I believe my art is still confused but rich nonetheless in the passion and curiosity of it. I believe that my work is still an open book, and I enjoy observing my audience categorize it themselves. Like my journey as an artist, I leave the future very open to change and spontaneity, and I believe this translates into my work. So in simplest terms, I think my art is a journey through the confusion of purpose,” the young artist avers.