Second solo exhibition of Isko Andrade
Text by Prim Paypon courtesy of Ysobel Art Gallery; Photos by Ysobel Art Gallery.
Since the day he learned how to hold a brush on a canvas, artist Isko Andrade always knew he only wanted to paint the most personal of stories. What he could not articulate in words due to shyness, he strongly felt he could express in passionate strokes. When he finally decided to stage his first solo exhibition a few years ago, he found himself in an almost uncomfortable chair, in front of his canvas, painting the most familiar story that he was part of as an actor and as a co-writer alongside the people he grew up with.
For his first solo show, he mustered enough courage and strength to relive the dark and sorrowful moments of his young life that started in the most unusual of places, a slaughterhouse. Uncomfortable and gritty, he painted the scenes he grew up with that enabled him and his family to have food on their table and a roof over their heads. Aware that he was not living in a fairy tale, his innocence slowly witnessed the unraveling of unprecedented circumstances that tragically ended with their father abandoning them, leaving them to continue his family obligations as a broken family. To mark each canvas as a visual representation of life chapters he still considers altering and stirring, he painted red drapery or ribbon on figures that either held or choked his family.
Living with his mother and two sisters, he saw the unbelievable strength, survival, and acceptance of women in his life. Recognizing that he lives in a patriarchal society, he often wonders why women, especially single mothers, are never given the fair glory for rebuilding a home and recreating a future for their children all by themselves. Compelled to amplify what is good in women, he returns to his canvas and continues to weave together his personal narrative as a visual storyteller. For his second solo exhibition, he focuses on the very clothes the inspiring women in his life wore that beautifully juxtapose their strength in character and fragility in being.
Adorned with symbolism and laced with personal histories, he carefully selects the clothing items of the women in his life, from his grandmother to his mother, to his sisters and their daughters. For him, each of the garments, including the gathered dress of his mother, the office attire of his older sister, the school uniform of his younger sister, and the Sunday’s best of his nieces, is a solitary object that holds and defines not just their deep memories of struggles and triumphs, tears and joys, and lost and love, but also the truths behind his artistic motivation and pursuit as a grandson, a son, a brother, and an uncle—to be a young but providing second father to them.
Each canvas is a painful but triumphant chapter of their lives as a family. A product of a deliberate process that is, without a doubt, emotionally charged, each is a carefully orchestrated reality that draws and invites us in and immerses us with an eloquent quietness that whispers to us his innermost reflections and contemplations, with every painted thread ingrained with deep melancholy.
Using his incredible hyperrealism technique that commands attention, he carefully manipulates layers of paint to create a work of art as equivalent as possible to the complexity of its real life. Even if the intense realism leaves nothing to the imagination, he heightens the curiosity behind each selected dress which takes the centerstage by elaborating on their mechanical construction in order to highlight the labor that each woman in his life has to toil. Using strong chiaroscuro to illuminate and bathe each subject in nostalgia, he is able to reveal every ounce of anger, bitterness, and sadness that were buried deep inside without hurting anyone. For him, each stroke rendered is a cathartic peeling of truth to hopefully find forgiveness and solace.
For Andrade, the most beautiful dress is the one worn, and even worn out, by women who have been through more than most but come out empowered and wiser, and continue to conquer each day with graceful strength. In this special exhibition, each dress was worn by a remarkable woman in his life who channeled patience and positivity to keep moving forward by letting go of resentment and anger. Because in the end, it is kindness, compassion, and love that make the most basic unit of a society which he calls his Pamilya.
“PAMILYA,” an Isko Andrade solo exhibition, will be on view at the Dragon Gallery of the Yuchengco Musuem, Makati City from February 22 to March 10, 2021. Viewing is by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, please contact 09228834396 or email email@example.com.