- #Material Practice
Karl Mata Hipol
Kablaaw! Kumusta! Hello!
My journey to painting started when I entered Emily Carr University of Art + Design to achieve a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. As a student painter, I have only been exposed and taught to Western artists, philosophies, and histories. As a result, undeniably, my paintings significantly echo the Western visual elements, techniques, and interpretations. As I advanced my practice, my studio professors brought up to me the concept of ‘Parallax,’—meaning the change in the observer’s point of view due to an apparent displacement of an object. In my case, myself—as a way to perceive my works from a new perspective.
“Ang hindi lumingon sa pinangalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan’ or ‘a person who does not look back at where they came from will not get to their destination,” a famous Filipino saying helps as a motivation for my new exploration. This time, I am embarking on a journey that looks back at Filipino History from the 16th to 18th century, before and during the Spanish colonization. In this process, my objective is to relearn Philippine art and architecture history, looking closely at the significant changes or developments. Ultimately, my goal is to reclaim, highlight, and celebrate Filipino identity and cultural heritage. Additionally, to comprehend my positionality, weave our stories, and disturb the ‘Filipino invisibility’ in the Canadian landscape. Finally, artist and author Ernesto Pujol’s ‘Decolonizing Walk’ also serves as my inspiration. In my case, I am using my body as the site of decolonization.
The title for my Graduation Exhibition page Balik-Tanaw is a Filipino word for retrospection. Here, I want to take you back and present my most recent explorations!
Burnaby Village Museum: 50th Anniversary Commemorative Arches 2022
Tuloy po kayo! The title of my arch is a phrase commonly observed and used in the Philippines. When translated to English, the expression means, “Please, come in!” when Filipinos let someone enter their home or other spaces. Therefore, besides being a Filipino heritage site, my arch simultaneously serves as an invitation for everyone to explore our place and cultural heritage. Furthermore, the Filipino word ‘Tuloy’ has another meaning: ‘Continue.’ Thus, my arch also becomes a significant emblem or blueprint for BVM’s continued support to Filipinos and the BIPOC community.
During my research through the online archives and during the tour, I found a lacking of representation of the Filipino diaspora and experiences. So, rather than finding elements from the collection directly related to Filipinos, I constructed a new architecture to be added to the existing collection in the Burnaby Village Museum.
To create the work, I reconfigured the Filipino method of building a ‘barong-barong (shanty) house.’ Contrary to the Kubo, the barong-barong house is an inadequately constructed temporary shelter using scavenged materials. Nevertheless, the Filipinos’ ingenuity, resourcefulness, and resilience are remarkable and worthy of sharing in this narrative. Furthermore, while emulating the barong-barong method, I collaged archival images (Blueprints) from the BVM’s permanent collection. Ultimately, my goal is to weave Filipino stories and values into Canada to enrich the stories from the perspective of the Asian diaspora.
*Currently viewable at the Burnaby Village Museum.
THE SHOW 2022: GRADUATION PROJECT
I was inspired to pursue this project due to the rise of current social movements such as Black Lives Matter, Indigenous Peoples Movement, and Stop Asian Hate, and my desire to join the conversations actively and productively. The need to identify my positionalities in response to these social issues pointed me toward my colonized history. As such, my mixed media work “Sawali: Blueprint of Reclamation” (2022), was a personal process of decolonization of comprehending my position here in so-called Canada as a Filipino immigrant settler.
The woven archival inkjet prints on Tyvek, measuring 100 inches tall and 40 inches wide, developed from closely investigating the “Bahay Kubo or nipa hut as a starting place and holder of layered meanings. The artwork is comprised of two photographs: The first image (weft) is the Saint Augustin Bell Tower in Manila from the UNESCO Archives. The second image (warp) is of a Gaddang treehouse in the province of Nueva Vizcaya from the National Geography Archives. Then, using Photoshop, I reconstructed the two images to create a blueprint-like effect. By weaving the images or blueprints, they transform into a ‘Sawali’—a traditional woven pattern for walls and mats found in Bahay Kubo. However, due to the legacy of colonialism, Sawali is often associated with deprivation. It is my intention to subvert those negative associations by highlighting and appreciating their value. Ultimately, my work serves to reclaim and celebrate the history of traditional Philippine art and architecture.
BURRARD ARTS FOUNDATION: THE GARAGE 2022
“Tagpi-tagpi” translates to the English language as patchy. It came from the root word Tagpi meaning patch. The installation abstractly and figuratively visualizes my knowledge with the elements presented, particularly the Baybayin. The art installation aims to gradually rebuild the Filipino’s broken identities by patching the lost and loose pages of history by reintroducing the Filipino language, the Baybayin script, and reconstructing traditional architectures such as the Bahay Kubo. Through the art installation, ‘The Garage’ at the Burrard Arts Foundation turns into a virtual space of demonstration, an act of decolonization and an education.
*Currently viewable at the Burrard Arts Foundation until June 12, 2022.
HERSCHEL SUPPLY CO. X ECU: INFINITY ROOM 2022
CENTRE A: Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art
Fall 2021 Emily Carr University X PATIO PRESS Fellowship recipient.
Printed in November 2021 by Kail Liu and Yuan Wen
Photography by: Patio Press
“BEYOND THE HORIZON,” Gordon Smith Gallery
Beyond the Horizon is an expression that encourages us to consider what is “farther than the possible limit, beyond what we can foresee, know or anticipate”.1 It is both visual – what we see – and conceptual – what we know. The horizon as a metaphor provides an opportunity to challenge and evaluate our own ways ok knowing. The artists in this exhibition expand conventional uses of materials and explore modes of making through collaboration with other artists and the land.
Installation Photography by Khim Hipol
“ANG PAGLALAKBAY,” FKA the Faculty Gallery
Ang Paglalakbay (The Journey) is a re-installation and a survey of my paintings from 2019 to 2021. Here, I am taking the initiative and direction to bring my personal touch and interpretation to my artworks.
My “Abstract Blueprint Paintings” significantly reflect my lived experiences as a Filipino immigrant and student-artist residing in Canada, exploring history, process, and immigration as the themes. I create multi-layered, dimensional paintings that draw viewers to reflect, visualize, and explore. As a result, I produce images that I have not seen before. These new pictures evolve through enigmatic blends: flat but dimensional, chaotic but organized, noisy but calm—a juxtaposition of unlikely combinations, belonging amongst categories that may be complementary and contrary.
Installation Photography by Khim Hipol