It is said that our collective memory is fragile, and art is a way for us to remember. Ian Garcia, a 29-year-old artist from Lemery, Batangas, paints to remember— and he has made it his mission to preserve the Filipino heritage.
As more Filipinos grow accustomed to modern architecture, Ian draws attention to the historical and cultural significance of century-old Filipino structures in his paintings. Since his younger years, he has been entranced by old-world charm— antique furniture, churches, and Filipino ancestral houses, especially the intricate parts of its windows such as the capiz shells, columnillas, conchas, espejos, persianas, and ventanillas.
“For me, old houses and their windows can tell us a lot about our history,” Ian tells My Pope Philippines. “These represent our arts, our own architecture. Through my paintings, I get to preserve all of these.” (Read: This Artist Paints Romantic Pictures of the Past Using Coffee)
True enough, the Filipino ancestral house or bahay na bato reflects the influences of Austronesian, Spanish, and Chinese architecture in the Philippines and the ingenuity of Filipinos in combining aesthetics with the practical need for ventilation.
Filipino Art and Culture
Ian’s upbringing is central to the direction of his art pieces. “I am a devout Catholic,” he says. This is why Catholic icons such as the Mater Dolorosa, the Holy Family, and the Holy Eucharist are incorporated in his paintings. Nuns, friars, and old church doors are also among his subjects. (Read: A Look Into the Pope’s Most Favorite Painting)
Expectedly, Philippine history is another recurring theme in Ian’s works. One of his personal favorites is based on the “Meztiza Sangley-Filipina” by Dutch photographer Francisco van Camp in 1875. And recently, his collection for a COVID-19 fundraiser focuses on our colonial past.
But more than showcasing Philippine history and culture, Ian is using oil, acrylic, and mixed media to chronicle the Filipinos’ simple day-to-day living. An example of this was his sold-out exhibit for Art Show Philippines in 2020 that shows cats and birds dwelling by the bahay na bato windows.
“These animals are what we normally see around us,” Ian says. It might be cliché, but art imitates life, after all. (Read: 3 Pinoy Komiks That Are Worth Checking Out on penlab.ink)
A Distinguished Painter
Through the support of Grupo Sining Batangueño (a group of local artists in Batangas), Ian gets to participate in exhibits around the country. (Read: PWD Painter Shares His Daily Hustle Amid the Pandemic)
His unique works have earned him accolades from prestigious competitions such as the Lakbay Sining and International Training Center for Philippine Husbandry Painting Competition, the Metrobank Art and Design Excellence Recognition Program, and the Art Show Philippines’s Tanawin Juried Online Exhibition.
In the future, Ian seeks to create more art and share it with a larger audience. Like others before him, he wants to make Filipino art and culture known worldwide, and to do this, he says he’ll continue doing his craft with fortitude, “just try and try.”