Growing up is a strange and sometimes exhausting experience that often involves getting lost within the unfamiliar paths the world has urged humanity to follow. For some, the process became even more chaotic with the hand of the pandemic putting a stop to the world. In the event that one is overwhelmed by adulthood’s chaos, it’s important to stop, discern, and if necessary, return to the past self unsullied by the world’s many contemporary opinions and thoughts. But how does one come back to the past self for a chance to regain sanity and a moment of peace? For Patrick De Veyra, this means reconnecting with one’s inner child–the past self whose feelings and mentality are puppeteered by the wonders of the world, may they be big or small.
Last May 6 to 27 at the Art Cube Gallery in Chino Roces, Makati, visual artist Patrick De Veyra’s fifth solo show titled “The Bitter Sea Is Boundless, But If You Turn Around There Is The Shore” expressed this longing to come back home to oneself in a collection of heavily layered psychedelic and colorful art pieces that ranged from acrylic and glitter paintings to 3D animations and sculptures that portrayed ecstasy, spontaneity, and wonder. In this collection, Patrick De Veyra’s intuitive art portrays the feelings brought by coming back home to oneself after being thrown into a whirlpool of troubling times where chaos, loss, and uncertainty dominated the mind and twisted the heart.
Portraying the thought: “There Will be Order within Chaos”
“For this show, I decided to include two works that I did in 2005 and 2006. A few months after graduating from the University of the Philippines-Diliman College of Fine Arts in 2005, my father finally succumbed to his nine-year bout with cirrhosis of the liver. It was in 2005 that I painted a 6’x3′ painting entitled ‘Glitter and Strife’.”
Glitter and Strife is a heavily layered acrylic collage work symbolizing the different types of duality–ones of joy and suffering, pleasure and pain, and beauty and chaos.
A year after his father’s death, De Veyra’s grandfather and patriarch of the clan died of old age. With death following death, ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ was created. A painting that is stylistically inspired by 80s video game iconography and bearing a title borrowed from one of Queen’s hit songs, “Another One Bites The Dust”, this painting symbolized the process of life’s inevitable progression toward death that, to De Veyra, feels much like the ending of every Pac-Man game.
In both works, death and loss are portrayed through psychedelic colors and child-like iconography. By finding one’s safe space, rediscovering one’s inner child, and making amends with one’s past, the soul is further able to gain a fresh perspective that can easily navigate the world’s senseless turbulence before making the empowered choice of flowing against that chaos.
“As a fresh university graduate who lost both his father and grandfather within months, I found myself confronting the brevity of life.” De Veyra states, “Fast forward to the three-year pandemic of the 2020s, the sense of loss and uncertainty that I felt in 2005 and 2006 was amplified exponentially. I felt the need to create works that are visual representations of my desire for a safe space, a joyful place, a visual universe of child-like imagery.”
The pursuit of portraying the comfort of coming home to oneself and being bathed in joy, peace, healing, courage, wisdom, and love was a successful pursuit that managed to touch the souls of many who needed to hear De Veyra’s message.
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“Perhaps the best responses were ones I received were from several individuals who told me that seeing the works and hearing the message behind the works were exactly what they needed at that very moment.” De Veyra says, “I guess being reminded of the value of childlikeness and being able to come home to oneself have resonated with viewers regardless of age and gender. I have received similar responses to my solo show from GenZs to collectors in their late 60s.”
What does it mean to ‘Come Home to Oneself’?
After being hit by something as chaotic as a global pandemic, it’s only expected that people are still in a state of confusion and flux, trying to recover from the mental health problems the pandemic has yanked fully to the mind’s surface. For Patrick De Veyra, the lockdown phase became a trigger for creating art that allows people to regain their bearings and once again understand who they once were.
“Being a millennial, ever-shifting contemporary attitudes and trends have directly and indirectly influenced my way of thinking and perceiving.” Patrick says, “The world feels like it’s in a state of flux. It’s rather easy to get lost in all the noise and all the shifting tides. The covid-19 pandemic and the mental health crisis have taken a toll on our well-being. All these made me want to create works that give the viewers the permission to find their bearing again, their sense of home again. Being able to come home to oneself is perhaps the best gift we can give ourselves.”
De Veyra’s collection presents a child-like iconography set against a pictorial field of psychedelic gestural abstraction and heavy layering that symbolizes the paradox he feels as an adult.
“As I had traversed my personal “bitter sea” when my father and grandfather died months apart, I realized that what preserved me and protected me was my connection with my inner child. The more senseless and complex the situation was at that time, the more I acknowledged the importance of leaning on my inner child. For me, what makes life beautiful are its placid seas as well as its turbulent waves; its psychedelic sunsets as well as its overcast skies.”
The Balance Between Passion and Practicality
Within unfamiliar chaos, the mind and soul are able to learn a plethora of lessons–good and bad. In the time of the pandemic, choosing between practicality and passion could’ve been a point of challenge to some people. Does one focus solely on making money to keep the family afloat? Or is there a way to let passion shine through the mental exhaustion the pandemic has caused?
For De Veyra who grew up in a Chinese school and was raised by a clan that places hard work, innovation, and discipline as the pillars to achieving success, there is no dichotomy between passion and practicality.
“There are infinite ways that a person can find balance between pursuing that which gives the person a sense of creative fulfillment and that which gives a person financial resources to pay the bills.” De Veyra says, “Perhaps one of the more important things that the pandemic taught us is the wisdom of having multiple streams of income. You can be a studio artist and a business owner. You can be a contemporary artist and be a graphic designer. You can be a fine art photographer and a content creator. You can be an artist and a teacher. The 21st century is a multidisciplinary century. We are lucky to live at this time as artists and creatives. What I will perhaps tell people is to have some skin in the game. Don’t start something half-heartedly. Don’t expect financial rewards from the get-go. Don’t be easily disheartened.”
The world is a chaotic place and always has been. But the human ability to rationalize thoughts and say no to the modern brand of craziness is one embedded in us even as children. With a little tap on the inner child’s shoulder, one could rediscover the equally chaotic but familiar path directed toward home.
Patrick De Veyra has several more exhibitions planned for 2023. One of these is an exhibit happening this October at White Walls Gallery with Eugenia Alcaide and Alab Pagarigan among other participating artists. This show will pay homage to the works made by the historical masters of art.
“Conceptually, it’s thematically challenging but I think it would be a fun show. Mark calendars!”
Additional information about the artist:
Patrick de Veyra (b. 1982, Philippines) is a visual artist, art educator, writer, and former Philippine youth ambassador selected by the Office of the President of the Philippines-National Youth Commission to the 33rd Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP). He is an alumnus of the Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA) and recipient of the Outstanding Artist Award for Visual Arts and the Makiling Academe and Research Institute for the Arts (MARIA) Scholarship Award, an honorific scholarship awarded by the Cultural Center of the Philippines to PHSA’s top five graduates. He graduated at the University of the Philippines-Diliman College of Fine Arts with a degree in Painting (magna cum laude) and was inducted as a member of the International Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi upon graduating from university in 2005.
In 2004, he won the grand prize for mixed media in the University of the Philippines-Diliman College of Fine Arts’ 1st Studio Arts Annual Student Competition. In 2006 and 2007, he was invited by Sunshine School (Sekolah Sinar Matahari) in Brunei Darussalam to revitalize the school’s visual arts program and, in both years, was featured in the Borneo Bulletin, an independent newspaper in Brunei, Sabah, and Sarawak. In 2007, he produced, curated, and exhibited the ‘The Best Ideas Come From The Storage Room’, an ad campaign that featured robot assemblages by his Filipino primary school students, at the ASEAN Plus China and Korea Youth Creativity Expo in Jakarta, Indonesia.
As a Philippine youth ambassador to the Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Program, he visited Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Japan to participate in roundtable discussions with leaders of national and local governments, and to take part in grassroots programs for cross-cultural understanding.
He has shown his work in institutions including the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Ayala Museum, GSIS Museum, the University of the Philippines-Diliman Faculty Center, Pintô Art Museum, and the Philippine National Bank Financial Center.
Patrick de Veyra lives and works in Metro Manila.
Photos courtesy of Patrick De Veyra