Arts Lifestyle

PRIMER: CARLO ONGCHANGCO

Carlo Ongchangco’s art is whimsical but not frivolous. His works borrow from the visual language of children’s book illustration, graphic design, cartoon and Japanese pop art. He uses subdued colours that create a wistful, nostalgic mood for the caricature subjects that populate his works. His characters are almost always children with rounded faces, with eyes that are uneven – one is often inconspicuously small while the other is grotesquely big. The emphasis made with the big eye hint at a mystery, and a discovery waiting to be made.

These subjects are often engaged in an introspective journey, whether they are on the road in some sort of quest, or with one or both eyes shut, in a state of dreaming. His works often rely on the fantasy created by an imaginary scene that lends humour and lightness to his works, but at the same time, like fairy tales and other stories from our collective past, have ontological depth and engage the viewer in a narrative wanting to be unravelled, a memory on the verge of being remembered or an insight silently springing. With titles like “Blessings Come to Those Who Give” and “Come Rest in Me” Carlo’s seemingly simple works are coloured by his faith and draw observers to thought and reflection. Carlo’s art straddles High and Low art, with the same ease as it recognizes the sacred in the most unassuming circumstances.

Educated in the University of Santo Tomas, Philippines with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interior Design, this multifaceted artist consistently defies being boxed into a specific category. Carlo is currently the Creative Director of Red Fish, an art apparel label he established early this year that creates its own graphic shirts, an active photographer, and a designer. From 2007 to 2010, Carlo was also co-owner and Creative Director of White Box Studio, a gallery that catered to upstarts, which made its reputation for presenting edgy art. Despite being actively engaged in all these, Carlo manages to consistently present beautiful works as a professional painter.

With over twenty group exhibits and seven solo exhibits, the first of which was in Macau, and the latest of which was here in Singapore, this cosmopolitan artist maintains the loyal following from a particular niche of collectors. Carlo is a member of the prestigious Saturday Group of the Philippine Artists Guild, the oldest art collective in the the Philippines that has produced several National Artists for the Visual Arts including HR Ocampo, Cesar Legaspi and BenCab, who have been given recognition for their contribution to the trajectory of the Philippine visual arts. In the Saturday Group, Carlo has found a venue for expression and the collegial atmosphere to explore his craft. It was also through the Saturday group that Carlo found the friendship of four other artists who, together with Carlo, comprise the art collective Quinta.

What inspired you to become an artist?
It’s because of my dad; seeing him making watercolor landscapes when I was still young.

What was your first exhibit like?
My 1st show “A Arte de Adorar “ means praise God for art. It’s my way of thanksgiving… for blessing me with this talent.


What are you currently working on?
I’m currently doing “casa” series. For me a house is just a stone structure , bare and cold… Without people in it, it will never be called a home… Just enjoying the juxtaposition of house and the people or the community around it and a solo show hopefully in 2021.

What was the most valuable thing you learned doing your art?
Passion… passion… you have to have that behavior all the time.. Innovate; you have to push your art forward, always create innovate your design.

What is your favorite piece you created?
I never have a fave piece. I treat my art as my little minions hehe no favorites…

What is your favorite piece by another artist?
69 Arhats beneath the bodhi tree 2013 – takashi murakami. So massive so full of stories and rich in culture

Why do you work in the medium that you do?
Acrylic because its much faster to dry and mixed media sometimes like the texture and how colors reacts on different layers of surface on canvas.

What is your favorite place to create in?
My new studio because it’s much bigger now and I always do my art with music every time.

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