Each one of us is a storyteller, and we all have experiences to share. For Paul John Galagar, a 26-year-old artist and civil engineering graduate, stories are cornerstones of his artistic expression.
Like many self-taught artists, Paul started painting as a hobby that delighted his younger self. “It was just a hobby back in high school. Wala naman talaga sa dugo namin ang sining,” he tells My Pope Philippines.
“Naengganyo lang ako magpraktis kasi gusto ko lang sumasali sa iba’t ibang kompetisyon sa loob at labas ng paaralan. Hanggang sa hinanap-hanap ko na yung kilig, kumbaga, sa bawat panalo.” (Read: Ian Garcia, 29, Takes Pride in Pinoy Heritage Through Painting)
Paul went on to pursue a degree in civil engineering from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). On-campus, the deductive, stringent nature of engineering was balanced by the freedom of artistic expression. He found kindred spirits with the UPLB Painters’ Club, a student organization for aspiring artists in the university.
“That was the first time I was able to have a lot of passionate artist friends. This was the point where I could call myself an artist— the validation I was looking for,” he says.
“Mula rito, sineryoso ko na yung pag-aaral ng iba’t ibang aspeto sa sining. Dito na ako namulat sa napakalawak na mundo nito. Dito na rin ako nain-love, kumbaga, sa pagpipinta.” (Read: This Artist Paints Romantic Pictures of the Past Using Coffee)
For Paul, paintings have become opportunities to dive into one’s consciousness. “Repleksyon ng sining ko ang pagkamulat sa paligid ko. Niyakap ko ang mga karanasan ko, lalo na simula ng pagtuntong ko sa UPLB, at sinusubukan ilapat sa bawat canvas na pipintahan ko.”
Through oils and acrylics, Paul’s canvasses reflect his enjoyment of conceptual realism and surrealism yet he insists that stories are still its most imperative element. “Mas mahalaga ang narrative ng isang obra kaysa sa istilo ng gumawa nito,” he says.
What started out as a hobby is now Paul’s vehicle to immerse the audience in his and other people’s stories. His pieces tackle the individual and the society with themes such as poverty and inequality. (Read: PWD Painter Shares His Daily Hustle Amid the Pandemic)
His work has made rounds in several competitions and exhibits— the latest of which is the 52nd Shell National Students Art Competition in which his piece “Pira-Paraiso” won the 3rd Place for the Watercolor Category.
When asked about this winning artwork, Paul was hopeful. “Every revolution started with one thought, one idea, one puzzle piece that could possibly lift a nation from the ashes making it worthy of generations to come,” he says.