Phantasms and fairytales: Michelline Syjuco's 'Revelations'

As one of the country’s illustrious talents, Michelline Syjuco is known for her multifaceted approach to art.

Born to artists Cesare and Jean Marie Syjuco, her path to creativity has long been carved into her destiny. At age 4, she participated in the Annual Exhibition of the Art Association in the Philippines, making her one of the country’s youngest painters. She is known primarily for her contemporary jewelry and accessory designs, and her unique pieces have garnered international acclaim at the London Fashion Week 2015, Vogue Italia’s Talent Awards, and Paris Design Week. A leading figure of the Manila Art Vanguard, she is best known for her radical work incorporating torched and rusted hand beaten metal, hand carved wood, and industrial hardware. The gothic approach of her fashion pieces and sculptures have always stood out, creating a distinct aesthetic that spectators can easily identify.

Ever evolving, Michelline ushers the New Year with a new endeavor. On display at 8 Rockwell through Galerie Joaquin from January 16 to 31, 2018 is “Revelation,” her first solo painting exhibition. All 20 paintings reveal a rarely seen aspect of her art. 

A welcome change from her strikingly bold approach, the works exhibit flow and elegance. Still, they signify the cruel stories that transpire before the happy endings in fairytales. There are subtle and soft floral interpretations, interspersed with streams of foreboding darkness. Surreal environments depict the symbiotic existence of morbidity and beauty as not only mutual, but inseparable.

Talking to the artist, she unravels details about her latest undertaking.

You have delved into different facets of art. Does this series signify a change or a new milestone?

I’ve painted ever since I was little. In fact, many of my sculptural bags and accessories are hand painted by me, and even my larger scale sculptures have painted elements. In the past however, I did not have the opportunity to produce an entire body of paintings to showcase [in] a solo exhibition. This is such a milestone in my career since, for the first time, I will be unveiling a side of me that not many people are familiar with. 

From jewelry, sculptures, and accessories, to paintings – how different is the creative process?

As an artist, the creative process is pretty much the same. I use my hands and my imagination to create something very personal that I can share with the world. When I do wearable art pieces, I work with semi precious stones, brass, and silver. When I do sculptures, I work primarily with wood and high gauge metals. When it comes to painting, I work with paints, canvas and boards. The medium may be different, but the execution is the same. 

Why do a painting exhibition now?

I’ve been painting since I can remember. I was actually the youngest screened participant of the Art Association of The Philippines at age 4. I’ve joined many group shows in the past, but this is the first time that I’ll be showcasing an entire body of work that is purely my own. I had to set aside time in 2017 to completely focus on just painting. I had to cancel a show in Paris and another one in Japan just to be able to finally see this dream come to fruition. 

With all that you do, what helps you find solace when you think of creating something new?

When I do something new or embark on an overwhelming venture, I find solace in the thought that what I create brings beauty into the world. I find peace and serenity in knowing that what I manifest into reality is something that is truly unique and original. It is my personal contribution to humanity.

The works display harmonious intertwining flowing shapes, somewhat bounded by roses. What is the idea being revealed with these works?

I have always been inspired by fantasy, sword and sorcery, phantasmagoria, and fairytales. All of these have both dark and light sides. What is beautiful can be grotesque, and vise versa. Even a rose has its delicate petals intertwined with its dangerous thorns. Some if my wearable art pieces have been described as gothic in the sense that they depict the darker side of fantasy. My paintings on the other hand, which are characterized as abstract landscapes and avant-garde floral motifs, represent a lighter more ethereal and mystical side. 

The exhibition is titled "Revelation." Is there one particular revelation in all these paintings?

The exhibition is an exploration of yet another facet of my creative being. It is another snapshot of my soul, taken from a totally new and unexpected perspective. – Rappler.com