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The Bitter Sea Is Boundless, but if You Turn Around There Is The Shore
Patrick De Veyra
May 6-27, 2023
Of Truncated Trips and Intentional U-turns
In Patrick de Veyra's recent solo exhibition, The Bitter Sea Is Boundless, But If You Turn Around There Is
The Shore, the artist showcases a stunning collection of vibrantly colored paintings, each piece featuring
intricate layers and surfaces added or subtracted with well-thought out intent. With each painstakingly laid
veneer, he builds on his pigments and glazes, a number of them in volatile neons, each shade having its
own visual character and curing time. The artworks exude a playful yet sophisticated aesthetic that
perfectly captures the artist's creative vision and his specific brand of conveying emotion without
overreaching sentimentality or saccharine nostalgia.
Though halted temporarily by the recent coronavirus pandemic, our lives as we know them have slowly
come back to normal, with us more clearly seeing unfinished business for what they are— tasks to either
resolve at last or finally let go according to our capacity and state of mind. Here enters the courage and
maturity of the artist as he digs deep into his personal history, combining Eastern philosophy with Western
sensibilities directly translated into his art-making process. Projects from decades earlier, punctuated by
losses, are laid asunder in the context of yet greater mishaps on a global scale. De Veyra takes advantage
of the world standing still to recalibrate his bearings, giving a fresh take on his past while giving himself a
chance to redirect his narrative for the future.
Glitter and Strife, first painted in 2005 and revisited this year, is a wonder of bright acrylics and sparkles.
Enveloping his figure in drops, which may be either tears or a fresh wash of rain, plus a smattering of glitter
on canvas, he employs collage and de-collage to create a sense of depth, with texts underscoring the
duality of ecstasy and sorrow. Another One Bites the Dust was first painted in 2006. Though identified with
a pop/rock song, it sports an alien-like creature with its own retinue of video game characters. These
intriguing figures captivate viewers, drawing them into the complex layers of the painting as well as the
gamut of emotions contained therein.
There Is No New Wave, Only the Sea features a hypnotic mix of pinks, blues, greens, and oranges that
convey the calming yet powerful nature of the sea. It also appears planet-like, like a piece of the ocean
viewed from a cruise ship’s porthole. It harkens back to De Veyra’s stint as SSEAYP (Ship for Southeast
Asian Youth Program) Youth Ambassador, when he traveled by sea to various Asian countries to
participate in cross-cultural grassroots programs and discussions with government leaders. As he looks
back with fondness on days spent on international waters, he also relates them to realizations brought
about by the ebb and flow of life: all waves belong to one sea, just as all energies swirl within this universe
that he exists in. It comes with an accompanying video installation created by Hamill Buyco, an animator
who finished his BFA in Media Arts and Animation at The Illinois Institute of Art - Schaumburg.
Perhaps all the Dragons in Our Lives Are Princesses Who Are Only Waiting to See Us Act, Just Once, with
Beauty and Courage showcases a beautiful mix of oranges, blues, greens, and yellows. The title is inspired
by a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke, which speaks to the transformative power of taking action with beauty
and courage. Picturing a creature with its mouth agape while wearing either armor or dragon scales, it
seems the artist catches it frozen in the process of metamorphosis, awed by the power of change.
Who Knows if the Moon's a Balloon?, inspired by a line from a poem by E. E. Cummings, depicts a face
filled with rounded moon craters with eyes on top of each other. Repetitive patterns of dots and spheres
add to the lightness of the piece, representing the moon floating in the sky, buoyed by mysterious
gravitational forces. From the Chinese saying celebrating the mutability of constant change, Flowing Water
Never Gets Dirty (1-10), De Veyra showcases his versatility as an artist in a series of framed mixed media
works on acid-free paper. Measuring 12.5 inches in diameter, each features a merry mix of pigments and
shapes, seemingly interpreting faces that explode into forms that create fascinating juxtapositions. In the
Thick of It boasts an iconographic object covered in a profusion of riotous paint drips, a symbol of
innocence immersed in exuberant goo. It is youth made tangible and frozen in glee, reveling in the
adventures it’s gotten itself into and looking for more exciting exploits ahead.
Overall, De Veyra's works fully embody not only the Chinese proverb expressed in the title but also remind
us of the whole spectrum of emotions that match the full scope of life’s colors: all of its lights and darks,
jubilation and mourning, and even the combination of races in the artist’s very blood. As a Filipino mestizo
with strong Chinese and Spanish roots, he himself is a product of journeys and detours by land and sea,
and perhaps it is this amalgamation of ancestry and cultures that gives him deep understanding, taking into
account each detail with loving detachment and release. As De Veyra draws on his technical mastery of
composition and material brought about by decades of practice, he injects each stroke, line, and drip with
the experience and wisdom he has gathered through the years simply by braving the waters, reminding us
that wherever life leads us, we have command of the wheel.
Patrick de Veyra
Patrick de Veyra (b. 1982) is a visual artist, art educator, writer, and former Philippine youth ambassador selected by the Office of the President of the Philippines-National Youth Commission to the 33rd Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP). He is an alumnus of the Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA) and recipient of the Outstanding Artist Award for Visual Arts and the Makiling Academe and Research Institute for the Arts (MARIA) Scholarship Award, an honorific scholarship awarded by the Cultural Center of the Philippines to PHSA’s top five graduates. He graduated from the University of the Philippines-Diliman College of Fine Arts with a degree in Painting (magna cum laude) and was inducted as a member of the International Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi upon graduating from the university in 2005. In 2004, he won the grand prize for mixed media in the University of the Philippines-Diliman College of Fine Arts’ 1st Studio Arts Annual Student Competition. In 2006 and 2007, he was invited by Sunshine School (Sekolah Sinar Matahari) in Brunei Darussalam to revitalize the school’s visual arts program and, in both years, was featured in the Borneo Bulletin, an independent newspaper in Brunei, Sabah, and Sarawak. In 2007, he produced, curated, and exhibited the ‘The Best Ideas Come From The Storage Room’, an ad campaign that featured robot assemblages by his Filipino primary school students, at the ASEAN Plus China and Korea Youth Creativity Expo in Jakarta, Indonesia. As a Philippine youth ambassador to the Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Program, he visited Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Japan to participate in roundtable discussions with leaders of national and local governments, and to take part in grassroots programs for cross-cultural understanding.
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