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Jinggoy Buensuceso on embracing discomfort and blurring the line between art and design

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By Hannah Jo Uy
Images by Pinggot Zulueta

Jinggoy Buensuceso has captured the universe. Through his hypnotic use of black, textured, and littered with shimmering specks, he offers a startling perspective of the cosmos. Within the confines of the canvas, we are granted a window into the infinite galaxies that surround us and in his modern representations of nature we are made in awe of the mysteries and the vast incomprehensible nature of our solar system. Through his arresting creations, we see the universe, not as distant and cold, but rather pulsating with life and energy as in this dark void, life was born. As Sagan once said, “Through us the universe knows itself.”

Jinggoy’s latest show “Unfamiliar Landscape,” showcased at Gallery Duemila, serves as a follow up to his previous show, “Rebellion.” Though his previous collection focused on the death and rebirth of ideas within consciousness, this latest show presents the aftermath of such a journey: “‘Unfamiliar Landscapes’ is a continuous journey of that person who is going back to his origin—the stardust—and on the way discovering new terrains and a realization of the imprint you’ve made along the way.”

Jinggoy Buensuceso

Jinggoy Buensuceso

A master at manipulating innovative and unexpected materials, Jinggoy utilizes the very substance of his creations to further drive in the ideas that he is bringing into reality. The substance in itself plays a crucial role in the visual and conceptual experience. Adopting an elegant treatment of black volcanic sand, metal, cement, wood, and molten aluminum, he opted for these elements, “to be as close as possible to the look and texture of the universe.”

This has given birth to a collection that displays his impeccable aesthetic delineation and remarkable skill in metal and welding techniques. The diverse nature of the sculpture and paintings that Jinggoy shares in his exhibition is reminiscent of the pioneering spirit espoused by the age of space exploration, but through a philosophical lens and a personal application that takes into account our own questions as humankind and our place in this world. They are almost akin to museum pieces documenting the deepening connection with the cosmos.

The thoughtful execution of such a profound idea is not only a result of Jinggoy’s exceptional skills, but also of his deep and profound love and respect for nature and people, which has continuously breathed life and inspiration to his diverse creations throughout his career as a young artist.

Binocular Artwork 1, black sand, charcoal, resin, brass on plywood

Binocular Artwork 1, black sand, charcoal, resin, brass on plywood

“I’m a student of nature and life,” Jinggoy says, “As an artist you have to unplug and go back to your core.  Influences from Internet and social media can be confusing and sometimes detrimental to an artist because you may lose your identity. I encourage artists to travel or a do a simple nature walk—to taste, smell, touch, and experience their surroundings, feel the ground with their feet because it makes a difference when they are connected to the ground.”

His deep affinity for the natural world began when he was a child surrounded by the picturesque and idyllic landscapes of Bataan. It was there that he established a deep respect for nature, which is something he carried into his art. It was also during this time that he realized his compulsion to create.

“When I was young I always enjoyed creating pieces with my hands,” muses Jinggoy. “I turned my GI Joes into a diorama of the crucifixion of Christ and, at nine years old, I made my first ever sculpture after having been commissioned by a fraternity member to make them a knuckle duster. I knew then that I was going to be an artist.”

He completed a Fine Arts degree in Visual Communication at University of the Philippines. Adventurous and restless, Jinggoy traveled to Singapore and New York and continued to expand his visual repertoire, consuming various genres and movements and his own personal experience in the development of his style.

“Growing up in the province molded my aesthetic to become organic and be inspired by nature,” he says, “Singapore exposed me to modern architecture against nature, while New York exposed me to modern art and design and influences of different cultures. This highly influenced my style of art, which is linear and organic.”

He thoroughly studied, deeply inspired by the likes of Louise Bourgeois, Picasso, Rothko, Tadao Ando, Frank Gehry, Arturo Luz, Lao Lian Ben, Gus Albor, Junyee, and Rico Lascano. This time in his career further solidified his portfolio, which had expanded to include pioneering work in the design of functional art and furniture he was duly recognized for.

“I am a hybrid visual artist,” he says. “I’m blurring the line between art and design. Art is the foundation of everything I do—it’s my language, it’s how I connect, design, and support the story I want to tell through the choice of material and techniques. I have high affinity for furniture design because I started my career as a designer and I learned a lot in material manipulation and techniques that really differentiate my work for both art and functional art.”

Each and every piece of Jinggoy is a product of everyday experiences from my surroundings,” he continues. “My creative process takes as long as days, sometimes years. It depends on the concept and complexity in executing the piece. The same applies for my design process.”

His creative philosophy has made him a frontrunner in the modern design movement, being recognized in the Philippines and internationally for his unique, sustainable, and dynamic concepts. Jinggoy recently won the Outstanding Designer of the Year Award by Wallpaper Magazine in Thailand where he highlighted local culture in his designs of lighting concepts, containers, and baskets and shelves under the name Constellations and Topography. In addition, Asia Talents 2016, organized by the Department of International Trade Promotion, lauded Jinggoy as an emerging creative mover.

He continues to champion the same work ethic in his sculptures, which he uses as a platform to discuss themes closest to his art of a person’s life journey, imprint, culture, and challenging the status quo, all of which he presents using unorthodox materials and techniques, often in the color that continues to seduce him: black.

“I believe that black gives me infinite inspiration and black is my canvas,” says the multi-dimensional artist. “It is the most beautiful color I know. It is, for me, both relaxed and intense. I feel I’m in my element when I’m surrounded by it. It gives me the freedom to create.”

Jinggoy remains resilient, an unstoppable creative force constantly driven by his commitment to ensure his artwork is “a bold statement of identity, beliefs, and a continuous process that evolves.”

“As I grow as an artist, my perspective, techniques, materials, and collaborations with nature and people are part of my process and therefore lead to the organic evolution of my work,” he says. “There needs to be continuous movement and I do not want to put myself in a box.”

Jinggoy’s hunger to create is complemented by his desire to push his own boundaries, embracing the mystery of what lies beyond the familiar, “I don’t want to be a stagnant artist that keeps to his comfort zone,” he says. “I want to be uncomfortable, break the rules, and provoke thoughts. And this is the only way I feel I’m doing my purpose as an artist.”

“Unfamiliar Landscape” is on display at the Gallery Duemila until Nov. 7.

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