Primer: Fitz Herrera
Fitz Herrera, a dedicated abstract artist was born in Caloocan, and raised in Nueva Vizcaya until highschool and then relocated again to Manila for his college education. It can be said that his initiation and exposure to partly rural and then city life provided a good contrast which nurtured his creativity. Growing up and maturing in these immersive and disparately distinct environments and their textures mixed with his experiences profoundly shaped his thinking and aesthetic character; the province being quiet and then later Caloocan being more squalid replete with the harsh realities of urban life and economic struggles. Also, he was raised in a strictly conservative Catholic tradition which provided him the sensibilities and contradictions in his later life that would sharpen his instincts, thinking and emotional acuity.
From 1996 to 2000, he was formally trained at the University of the East- College Fine Arts where he majored in Advertising and learned the canons of the art world here and abroad. At first, he started producing figurative works and even won some accolades including Metrobank Art Awards where he landed at third place in 2004 among others. In hindsight, he considered this phase to be his amateur experience in art.
Eventually, Herrera found more freedom in abstraction and it is also where he gained some critical attention and traction to his career. His abstraction was at first felt very spare, measured, a bit minimal and restrained until it later eventually turned more lively and evoked freedom, which he aspired for and developed over time. Historically and also an artistic tact, his titles don’t show in the surface of his work but the ideas, feelings and attitudes are certainly revealed in the way they are painted and executed involve intensity at times even quiet confrontations between pigment and surface.
His first solo show, “Divisions” which was inspired by his realization of his first taste of a professional environment that was filled with so much segregation and cliques. Always, his art would be products of personal circumstances and reflections experiences at a certain time. Effectively, his work is a private language, grammar or narrative is known only to him.
To Herrera, the personal will always be the key themes, context and wisdom of his art always capturing moments of candor and sincerity. Naming exhibition titles and even works after his personal situations, they are bent on life reflections, his triumphs, his pains, his damages and interests. Although he believes that artists and the creative individuals should have some kind of faith as a stimulus to live and act, he believes that experience is sole driver of his creativity. They are imprints of his journey as an artist and as a person. They are not triggered by his social surroundings but more so the weigh and the effects of his own experiences that he amplifies on canvas.
Music, as both ritual and experience, also plays part of his creative life and his sustained process in artmaking. In fact, he initially opted to be trained in the Conservatory of Music at the University of Santo Tomas (UST). But he would live a musical life playing as drummer to various bands. Later his musical inclinations would have a special attention in his third solo exhibition which was inspired his inclination being musician along with his favorite songs.
In terms of artmaking process, he is inclined to mix and develop his own paint with the use of modeling paste + pigment. This DIY approach to him is already an inherent and early part of his creative choices which to him verily defines the textures and colors of his work.
Herrera as an artist committedly seeks freedom in his expressions and nowhere else does this become available to him than his abstraction as a visual language and style. Hence, this has been decidedly his already fixed frame and style of artistic production.
His influences include Bernardo Pacquing because of the palpable sense of freedom which is gleaned from his work as well as Cy Twombly, Bernardo Paqcuing and national artist, Jose Joya.
What inspired you to be an artist?
I always enjoyed making drawings since I was a kid. I think I was born as an artist, I have an attraction to all kinds of art and that drives me to be inspired.
What was your 1st exhibit like?
It was surreal the first time I had my first ever solo exhibit in a gallery in SM Megamall. It’s like a new beginning in life.
What are you currently working on?
Right now I’m working on my Art Toy “Drumhead”. This toy basically represents me as an Artist & a Musician (Drummer).
What is your process like?
My process starts always with a good mood in the morning, usually I listen to my favorite songs to set my right mood. I don’t do themes in my paintings regarding on politics & religion. I just free my mind and be like a kid when I make my paintings.
What was the most valuable thing you learned doing your art?
Be true to your art and love each painting you create, and in return art collectors will love your art too.
What is your favorite piece you’ve created?
I love all the paintings that I have created from the past 16 years.
What is your favorite piece by other artist?
All the works of Jose Joya.
Why do you work in the medium that you do?
I love to work with acrylics. It’s odorless, quick to dry and I can create my own acrylic paint through mixing of colors.
What is your favorite place to work?
To simply state the complexion and obvious touchstone of my work, it is markedly bolder, vibrant and illuminates that sense of freedom. It is because my works are stirred only by pleasant feelings, like a cosmic force so powerfully sublime to which one can’t help but bow down to its might. And to understand my work is to understand my present predisposition, which is more tranquil yet vibrant, buoyant and open where things seem to flow naturally and seamlessly like good music we all want plea wouldn’t stop.
I stirred by these imposing feelings and flummoxed emotions, which can only be dealt with my skillful exercise of art in order to inventively reveal in colors and motions while exploiting all the improvisational and tentative ways of abstraction. With much delight, I express pleasurable urgency to go back each time to my canvas to relay the visceral hold of spontaneous overflow of excitement and unrestrained inner spark. For me, all the positive vibes and accommodatingly unimpeded personal and creative space afforded me the fulfillment as an artist to pare things down in my visual language which I know how to use and communicate with.
My works are the direct transmittal of my overwhelming emotions at this given time, which yearns to see and understand possibilities that are perhaps more desirable. I fill the surfaces of my canvas with contents, colors, lines, gestures, and smears, and splotches, all of which constitute my assuredly formal and matured sensibilities in my medium. What permeates in my works is the presence of unrestrained freedom. Yet with all the aesthetic expectations of formality such as texture, materiality and process, my work resonates and abounds the qualities and the sense of effortlessness. All the while, I retain to purify and perfect my techniques as I persistently interact with my canvas, and my tools also ever paying close attention to the physical qualities of my paintings in the end. Expectedly, I continue to set aside logic as lens to realities. As an abstract artist, I have always been devoted to feelings and this is evident in how I allow myself to play with psyche and unconsciousness and speak earnestly and straight forwardly from my heart to share my inner views of existence.