Interview The Kanto Team
Images Benj Pore and Tubô Cebu Art Fair
Editor’s Note: This interview with Ormoc-based artist Benj Pore was made possible by Tubô Cebu Art Fair 2023. Pore is among the fair’s featured artists, specializing in mixed media works.
Hello, Benj! Do tell us about your upcoming solo show at Tubô Cebu Art Fair 2023, titled “OXYMORON”?
For this event, I am creating a brand-new collection exclusive to it. The theme for this year’s fair is “Juxtapose,” and it requires the contrast of different elements to create a striking effect. With this in mind, I decided to base my collection on the concept of oxymorons, which involves using apparently contradictory words juxtaposed together to provoke thought and convey a poetic essence.
Embracing the concept of oxymorons not only aligns with the fair’s theme but also allows me to add deeper meaning to each piece. The contradictions in each artwork offer viewers the chance to find their own interpretations. I have named each piece using oxymorons to add further significance. I cannot wait to see how visitors to the show will respond. Audience response is a vital aspect of any artwork, especially for a series that dwells on contradictions!
As a mixed-media visual artist, how do the different media you work with influence your creative process?
My artistic practice is inherently multi-disciplinary, encompassing a diverse range of mediums, from sculpting with epoxy to creating assemblages, and, notably, the fusion of acrylic and collage in my “OXYMORON” exhibition. These varied media serve as wellsprings of inspiration, each offering its own unique textures, forms, and creative opportunities.
The chosen medium or approach for an artwork or series naturally plays a pivotal role in shaping my creative process. For instance, working with acrylic paints introduces a rich dimension of texture and depth to my compositions. The tactile experience of sculpting with epoxy allows me to enter a state of meditative focus, adding a unique layer of contemplation to my work. When it comes to collage, it’s all about weaving together visual elements to create a cohesive narrative.
In essence, these diverse mediums serve as conduits through which my creativity flows freely, enabling me to tell stories in distinct and compelling ways.
How do you approach storytelling through your artwork, and what themes or narratives do you often explore?
Storytelling is an integral facet of my artistry. It’s a process that often extends beyond the visual realm, finding expression in accompanying essays, captions, or artist statements. My sources of inspiration are eclectic, ranging from the ordinary scenes of daily life to interactions with friends or moments of introspective contemplation.
I’m deeply drawn to the belief that every entity, whether animate or inanimate, possesses a story waiting to be unveiled. Sometimes, all it takes is a closer look. My thematic explorations frequently delve into the realm of childhood imagination, a space of profound vulnerability and boundless creativity.
You serve as the Ormoc City island coordinator for VIVA ExCon, one of the longest-running art biennales in Asia. Could you shed light on your role and its connection to the broader Southeast Asian art community?
My role as the Ormoc City island coordinator for VIVA ExCon is a relatively recent undertaking, commencing in 2020 during the event’s 16th iteration in Bacolod. Hailing from a city with an emerging art scene, this role offers a unique opportunity to participate in the broader Visayan art ecosystem and engage with diverse art communities.
Representation carries immense significance in this context. It’s about representing not just our local community but also becoming an integral part of a larger artistic tapestry, one that spans the Southeast Asian art community. It’s a journey of discovery, where we learn about various art practices, the unique challenges each community faces, and the rich tapestry of differences and commonalities that bind us all.
You’ve regularly participated in various group shows across different regions. Could you share some of your experiences and how exposure to different art scenes and artists have shaped your artistic perspective?
Participating in group shows is always a learning experience, extending far beyond the mere creation of art. It involves navigating deadlines, collaborating with fellow artists who share the same passion and intensity, and gaining insights into personal preferences when it comes to artistic collaboration and art appreciation.
The journey of an artist transcends mere talent; it encompasses personal growth and an ever-expanding understanding of the world. Immersing oneself in diverse art communities and engaging in a multitude of art activities serves as a crucible for growth. It comes with its share of challenges, demanding time, dedication, and financial investment, but the rewards I feel, are immeasurable.
I’d like to think of Art as a conduit for self-discovery, allowing us to explore not only the world within the frame but also the world that surrounds it. It’s akin to experiencing the sensation of rain on bare skin – something that can only be truly understood by stepping out and embracing it. This philosophy underlines my commitment to continuous exploration and immersion in different art scenes, each offering a unique perspective on the boundless world of creativity. •
Jesus Benjamin “Benj” Pore, a visual artist from Ormoc, holds a degree in Business Administration with a Marketing Management specialization from the University of San Carlos. His artistry is diverse, with a multi-disciplinary approach encompassing various mediums. Benj infuses his personal reflections and poetic storytelling into his works, which serve as a canvas for his thoughts and emotions. He co-founded the Ormoc City Visual Artists Association in 2017, where he was president (2018-2023) and currently serves as an adviser. Benj actively contributes to Ormoc’s cultural scene as a member of the Ormoc City Culture and Arts Council and the Ormoc Festival and Cultural Foundation. His art has been featured in group exhibitions across Luzon, Mindanao, and the region. Benj’s significant role as Ormoc City’s island coordinator for VIVA ExCon, Southeast Asia’s Art Biennale, underscores his commitment to the arts. In recognition of his contributions, he received the Garbo sa Ormoc Award for Visual Arts in Painting and Sculpture in 2021.
The best of Visayan creativity awaits at Tubô Cebu Art Fair at the Ayala Center Cebu, from September 15-17. Kanto.com.ph is a proud media partner of the Tubô Cebu Art Fair 2023.