The immortalized Chinese symbol of the yin-yang presents itself as the supreme icon of harmony. The circle imprisoning the yin and yang represents everything, or that which is in the world. The yin, represented by the black shape, signifies an energy interacting and yet opposite to the yang, which is the white shape. Their interaction as two separate entities becoming one is emphasized by the white and block dots on both color, proving that in any interaction one is left with a indelible mark. The yin-yang presents harmony as a beautiful thing, giving rise to the duality that creates a balance, the play between male and female, dark and light, cold and hot, water and fire, most importantly life and death. The yin-yang is the emblem of individual characters becoming an identity without losing their own self. Indeed, the yin-yang is embodied in the artistic partnership of up-and-coming artists Neil Cruz and Irish Salibio.
It takes a lot for an artist to show his or her work to the public. It takes courage to reveal your most intimate musings, your most passionate discoveries and its aesthetic product. Artists are protective of their work because it is an extension of their soul. Imagine, how much harder such sharing would be if the sharing would take place on a canvas?
Neil and Irish has spun the meaning of ‘two-man show’ on its head, by forging a partnership on the canvas that many other artists have not done. Their latest exhibit entitled, “Leave No Glitch Behind,” which was recently exhibited at Altro Mondo, features nine works that reveal collaboration at its finest. The works, comprised of eight diptych works and one tile mosaic is the product of a partnership of two very different people with their own unique opinions, begging us to ask the question, ‘What am I as a modern man or woman doing to the natural world?’ According to them, “It attempts to harmonize nature with technology, exploring the ways in which new media creates a disruption on the image of the natural world.”
Each work in the collection was created, equally and with the unanimous decision of the two of them. Each stage from the brainstorming, to the conceptualization to the actual painting of the work was done together, spending long hours jointly perfecting the pieces. The difficulty that this must have given rise to is understandable, not even mentioning the fact that Neil lives in Manila, and Irish hails from Cainta. The idea of sharing a canvas with a fellow artist, while idealistic, certainly raises a few eyebrows. Regarding the curiosity on the travails of such an undertaking, Neil humorously says, “Mahirap talaga. Parang ikaw gumagawa ka ng interview mo tapos dalawa kayo nagtatanong, ‘di ba mahirap?” However, he adds that, “Pero kailangan magtiis kahit mahirap. Tulad ng concept ng show, ang harmony mahirap talaga makuha. You really have to adjust yourself, babasagin mo talaga sarili mo, para mag-fit doon sa kasama mo.”
Such deformation adds more character in the event of reformation and integration, a reformation that leads to something more fascinating, interesting, and colorful. This breaking of self for the other has yielded, in this case, not only beautiful works, but also a lesson to those privy to their creative process. It is a constant reminder that cooperation, while challenging, is not impossible. A mindset we can apply to the union of our own natural resources in relation to our innovations.
A project taking almost four months to complete, the idea for the exhibit was born out of their own personal debates and discussion on the state of our natural world in light of our technological revolution. “Napapansin naming ang environment, at ang tao na consume lang ng consume,” says Irish. “Hindi tayo gumagawa ng ways to preserve o conserve ang isang bagay. Pero, nauuso na ngayon ang solar panel and sustainable techonology. Gusto din naming i-share yung idea na ‘yun sa ibang tao through painting.”
On what made them decide to move their debate on the canvas to present their ideas through their art Neil says,” Lagi kami naguusap, naisip namin na gawin na lang sa isang show para mas makakatulong pa kami.”
“Hitting two birds with one stone,” Irish adds.
Despite coming together to promote their message, individually their artistic styles could not be farther from one another. Both full time artists are alumni of Far Eastern University; the two friends met in their very own campus.
Neil graduated with a degree in Fine Arts, Major in Advertising in 2007. Since then he has worked as a graphic artist for ABS-CBN, Star Cinema and Suyen Bench Clothing. However, his work with graphic design proved to be unsatisfactory; painting remains to be his greatest passion. “Naisip ko na masarap talaga magpinta. Graphic design focused on the commercial side ng art, functional siya. In my paintings, ginamit ko yung paraan ng advertising, pero hindi para magbenta ng bagay, pero para ibenta yung idea through the style ng graphic design.” He has had multiple group shows since 2005 and was a finalist in Metrobank Art Competition in 2007 and 2009 and the Maningning Miclat Art Competition in 2006. His works exhibit the modern sensibilities of hip young visual artists, using multimedia tools at their disposal, raising painting to a new level.
Irish is a fresh graduate and abudding artist, proving to the industry that talent overrides youth any day. Originally poised to take Architecture, she was encouraged by her mother to try her hand at Painting, which eventually became her passion. Now holding a degree in Fine Arts, Major in Painting she has thrown herself onto her craft wholeheartedly. A throwback to the traditional art identities, her style is reminiscent of the classic artists, as she is particularly inclined to make studies of outdoor scenes, landscape and spaces. “Bigla lang ako na naging mahilig sa nature; before that I tried other subjects.” For now Irish feels most joy doing her outdoor paintings and live paintings.
While we can hardly call Neil and Irish two peas in a pod, we can call them friends. Friends defined by two separate and uniquely talented individuals, walking together toward a common goal, setting aside their own differences, and opinions, compromising, sharing, growing and, most importantly, creating.