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THE TEXTURE of copper, and how light can bounce off of it and draw out luminous colors, is visual artist Katrina Cuenca’s latest fascination.
This play of light and dichroic colors (meaning colors that seemingly change when viewed from different angles) lets her bring out a sort of celestial quality from the medium. “It can be very glossy, but I experimented with reflective pigments so that it can turn into a rainbow in some areas even though it just looks black and a little silvery in some parts,” she told BusinessWorld.
Most intriguing is how it evolves at different times of day, or even just by looking at it from different angles, she added.
At Galleria Nicolas in Glorietta 4 in Makati, her recent exhibit “Celestia” showcased many of these sublime pieces, some displaying contrasting matte and glossy sides, some stretching out sidewards like the twinkling night sky. Inspired by the skies outside of the city where Ms. Cuenca and her family now live, these celestial sculptures appear to be floating, frozen in a perfect moment in time. Pictures do them no justice, as their pearlescent glow only shows when illuminated by the light in front of one’s very own eyes.
Making them is a tedious process, however.
“It’s essential for me to keep experimenting with new materials and new ideas. It costs a lot to buy paints and primers because some work and some don’t,” Ms. Cuenca said in an interview during her exhibit. This suited her very well though, as she had always loved tinkering even as a child — her playful imagination would lead to destroyed grandfather clocks or VCR players, to the chagrin of her family.
Now a painter and sculptor, having an art studio as a sort of laboratory where she can play with all the colors and textures that she wants is an absolute joy.
“When you figure it out, it really feels great,” said Ms. Cuenca. “Especially with sculptures where there’s a more tactile nature.” She specified that paintings allow her to plan things out and be thoughtful about every element involved, whereas sculptures take a life of their own. “You really have to listen to the medium that you’re using,” she said.
This is why touching the “Celestia” pieces are allowed; in fact, encouraged, as Ms. Cuenca wants people to appreciate the textures.
“The thing about textures and different finishes is that they let the light become an external medium,” she explained.
“How light bounces off the texture, the glossiness of the paint, all of it really comes together.”
“Celestia” was on view at Galleria Nicolas in Makati in October. “Glow On: A Collection of Genre Works,” an online exhibit on life’s diversity and the shared human experience, is showcasing some of Ms. Cuenca’s paintings at galeriejoaquin.shop until Nov. 11. — Brontë H. Lacsamana