Arts Lifestyle

PRIMER: RICHARD BUXANI

Buxani is a graduate of B.S. Architecture from the Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, in Manila, Philippines. His discipline reflects heavily on his works. The sense of balance in his sculptures and the scarcity of elements, all depict a story that is hard to miss. It is not exactly difficult to see the sense of aesthetics in his art, though sometimes anachronistic, but nevertheless as stunning as it is old-fashionably relevant.

Born of a mixed-racial marriage, growing up in Manila, he is able to transcend his domesticity and regionalism to a more dynamic and contemporary universal approach to his works- integrating pop art, religious beliefs, popular icons and architectural sensibilities to achieve his style.

The samurai warrior started out in 2009, about the same time he started tinkering with sculpture outside of his work in architecture, and the ideas had been simmering until 2017 when the series had been started out. It has since evolved into even more sophisticated works that “depict movement capturing the essence of the life of a samurai” that started numerous series of sculptures. This captured the eyes of art lovers and collectors alike.

In 2018, he became a finalist in the GSIS (a Philippine national government agency) nationwide competition for sculpture with his entry,” re-imagining St. George and the dragon”. It was a take on St. George as battle tactician rather than a holy man.

He’s done numerous group exhibits, a two-man show and 8 solo exhibitions to his credit. He has also participated in exhibits in the U.S., Hongkong and South Korea, and slated for exhibits in Malaysia and Indonesia.

What inspired you to be an artist?

I have incredible artist friends like Emmanuel Garibay, Jojo Lofranco, Clairelynn Uy and Alfredo Esquillo whose works I admire and continually inspire me. My entry into the world of sculpture was accidental. I used to ask my friend Ronald Castrillo, a brass sculptor, to make artworks for my architectural/interior projects. One day, he offered to mentor me since I am always in his studio anyway. He got me a spotter while I started to learn and work on my own pieces using his equipment and studio. This was in 2009. I finally got the courage to build my own studio in 2016 and embark on a full-time exploration of art welding.

What was your first exhibit like?

My first exhibition was for a group exhibit in Museo De La Salle titled Pamana. It was very exciting as I did an art installation piece at the center museum courtyard overlooking a pond. It was titled Fragility, a series of metal crosses with stone mills at its very center that represents the Eucharist. A sand depiction of the cross was also outlined on the grass, unknowingly being stepped upon by the viewers, thereby distorting its shape. It was meant to reflect the fragile nature of Christian faith in our day to day lives.

What are you currently working on?

 I am currently working on female sculptures of different body types and shapes. It is meant to comment on the perception of beauty in imperfection. I used polished brass as a medium to create elegance when spotlights reflect from its surface.

What is your process like?

My process is the cut, bend and weld method. I do not do casting s for my work. Each piece is hand wrought and no 2 pieces will ever be exactly alike.  i focus on movements for representational pieces, with a little exaggeration and anachronism. When I was still starting, the process was slow, but as I started making them, I got faster and faster in my creations. I learned that making mistakes are part of the artists’ growth as well, and that sometimes, accidental mistakes can also look good. Nowadays, I explore my ideas by directly sculpting them, whatever the outcome maybe. I do art welding 7 days a week, from 7 AM to 4 PM, except when I need to go out. If the process produces an outstanding piece, well and good. If not, there is always tomorrow to start all over again.

What was the most valuable thing you learned doing your art?

That there will be good days, and there will be bad days. Not every work is a masterpiece. It’s just another step towards achieving a better, greater piece. There is no way to ascertain the success of what I do until I do it. It may be received well today, but it can just as easily be rejected tomorrow. The only way to keep on progressing is to continue moving forward.

What is your favorite piece you’ve created?

My favorite piece will have to be my depiction of Odin riding his eight-legged horse Sleipnir. It shows Odin, the Allfather wielding Mjolnir, the hammer of Thor, said to be forged from the heart of a dying star; and his spear, Gungnir, said to be forged by dwarves from sunlight. The amount of detailing I achieved on this piece have shown technical maturity in my choice of material.

What is your favorite piece by another artist?

My favorite piece from another artist would have to be the Tikbalang sculpture of Solomon Saprid. It used to occupy a space in Quad park in Makati up until the place was torn down, and is now at the garden of the Ayala Museum.

Why do you work in the medium that you do?

 I am by heart a metal sculptor. I may try to dabble on woodcarving, clay, paper or maybe even polymers or resins, but my heart is set on steel and brass. There is no greater feeling in being able to mold like putty a hard material like steel and brass.

What is your favorite place to create in?

I get my big ideas during my work breaks, mostly while multi-tasking around the house. But a sculptor will always need his workshop or studio to create, so this is where I can mostly be found during the day.

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