Kawayan de Guia's art is a fresh take on the country’s changing urban cultural mores; he is the consummate Urban Art Warrior.
Kawayan de Guia has discovered a new visual language that allows him to depict people and objects through an assortment of objects and irrationally arranged icons and texts to compose each painting.
The series of seemingly disconnected images operate as Kawayan de Guia’s poetics, and each painting rests as a metaphor for his whole world inhabited by these strange stimuli.
His use of stimulating details adds to the pathos and surreal nature of the scene. These niches of memories that evoke a mood of amity are constructed within pocket universes. We also see the wryness of de Guia’s humor and his sense of irony.
Perhaps the reason these two-dimensional assemblages do not remain alien to us is because in one way or another they are housed in familiar places. Kawayan de Guia packs many stories into one painting, here divided by rulers.
It is clear that Kawayan de Guia is fascinated by the complexity of the situations he shows us, both in the complex narrative of the everyday and the understated intricacies of relationships.
Despite their references to popular culture and mass media, these are far from the makings of a consumer paradise — Places upon places, pictures upon pictures, signs upon signs; the tumult of the crowded sum of objects is cancelled out by the immobility of these elements. The hubris of existence is settled into a review of the miscellaneous.
De Guia at once manages, with him gently staying true to the basic forms of things and places, to strike the frantic elements of industry with a calming, meditative ambience.
For him, painting and the three-dimensional provide different platforms through which to express his ideas on “urban culture” and his views on both the role of art and the part it plays in life. Achieving a spiritual limbo within the jolt of the city, his art helps not only himself to make sense of the world, it also helps his audiences, for we are all in transition. Growing up in Baguio City — a place where being in touch with nature and spirituality is like a second skin — is perhaps that which fuels the artist’s capacity to stay centered.
The paintings come close to freewheeling methodology with their use of unexpected juxtapositions. Despite of a lack of premeditated composition, the result is an irrevocable symbiosis.
De Guia also does small but no less striking sculptures. The sculpture of a woman in office wear standing above the hubris of everyday shows how de Guia merges the simple and the curious into unusual relationships that suggest myriad patterns of life.
He has taken tutelage under numerous artists and craftsmen and sojourned to places like Thailand, Nepal, and Japan. Aside from painting he also does installation art and performances, as well as curates the Victor Oteyza Community Art Space in Baguio.