(SPOT.ph) For Genavee Lazaro, the memory of place and the great outdoors serve as fodder for her porcelain sculptures and paintings. With three ongoing projects and shows, including her painted stoneware pieces at the Modern and Contemporary Art Festival from July 29 to 31 at Fairmont Makati, we catch up with the visual artist. She recently relocated to La Union from Los Baños, Laguna.
Lazaro confesses that her peripatetic lifestyle possibly feeds her art. “Kaya siguro palipat-lipat ako ng lugar, para iba-iba ang ipe-paint ko,” she says with a laugh. “I really draw inspiration from where I live, who I see, and who I talk to every day; and also, my deep connection with nature.”
She mainly uses the medium of porcelain and ceramics for her works, alternating with painting acrylic on canvas. Still, it is with the tactility of clay that she has the most affinity. “I like pottery because it’s great to feel and hold the actual material,” she says.
The artist, a graduate of Studio Arts from the University of the Philippines Diliman, started sculpting early on, during her student days at the Philippine High School for the Arts. “I used to play with wire sculptures, and then eventually iba-iba na ang medium: naging metal, resin, epoxy, until I had to stop because [the fumes] were bad for my health.”
She eventually focused on the safer medium of pottery, since she was so fond of growing and nurturing plants that she needed more vessels for them. Lazaro began to make her pottery creations and fire them on her own. It came to a point wherein her collection of plants had grown so large, that she had to sell them.
Genavee Lazaro’s “Cactus Friends” PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE ARTIST179SHARESPOST A COMMENT
Genavee Lazaro’s “Cactus Friends” and More
At this stage, she started creating her “Cactus Friends,” whimsical creatures which became part of her art; miniature cacti brought to life with tiny legs and arms that she either illustrated or sculpted in clay. The figures were portrayed alone or with other “Cactus Friends,” doing what humans do—cradling baby cacti, dancing, exercising, and lounging with fellow succulents.
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“The ‘Cactus Friends’ started in 2016, noong nasa Manila ako,” Lazaro shares. “Where I was living, kung anu-ano ang naririnig ko sa bahay, parang may multo; may noises
But more than being a source of comfort, the “Cactus Friends” became regular characters in her art, appearing as miniature ceramic sculptures and in her ethereal paintings at Galerie Stephanie for Art Fair Philippines 2022 and as energetic figures in acrylic on canvas for Art in the Park. Their most recent appearance is on a t-shirt collaboration with local apparel brand Curated X.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE ARTIST179SHARESPOST A COMMENT
Another theme that frequently appears in Lazaro’s art is her quiet domestic scenes, which feature in Pursuit of Less, her ongoing group exhibit with fellow La Union artists at Eskinita Art Gallery in Makati City. Most of her paintings of this theme show little vignettes within her home that display mundane domestic scenes, but hint at isolation and contentment.
“Kasi, homebody talaga ako,” she explains. “‘Yong paintings, if not tungkol sa bahay ko sa Los Baños, sa bahay ko naman at studio ko sa La Union.”
Her latest collection Landscapes at La Union, which will be shown at Galerie Stephanie during the Modern and Contemporary Art Festival, combines her two mediums of painting and pottery. It is also an homage of sorts to her new hometown. The works, which she says combine the conceptual techniques she learned from a workshop at Fundacion Sansó, depict La Union beach scenes and seascapes delicately applied to stoneware pieces lit from within. The “Cactus Friends” are also present, cavorting on the sands.
“It’s a nice day. People surfing, hanging out on the beach, swimming, having picnics by the shore,” Lazaro says of the pieces. “I think of the people I want to share this wonderful scene and serenity with. I wish my closest family and friends are here, but they are far away. So, I imagine them on the scene by painting my ‘Cactus Friends’.”
When asked how it is to live and create art in the country’s favorite surfing spot, Lazaro says that there are pros and cons to settling in La Union. “Those from Manila think that once to go to La Union, stress-free dito, pero actually, stressful din siya!” she exclaims. “Marami tayong mgaconveniences na nakasanayan natin sa Manila, pero dito, wala. Also, minsan na-iistress ka, so maglalakad ka na lang. Pero, kapag naglalakad ka na, nakaka-clear siya talaga ng headspace.”
Lazaro says that despite this, the pros still outweigh the cons. She finally has her quiet studio, she brought her pottery kiln, the beaches are just nearby, and she has found new friends in the community of creatives in the area. “I think that’s why you can really create art here, kasi dito, maki-clear ang head mo,” she says.
Modern and Contemporary Art Festival runs from July 29 to 31, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Fairmont Makati, 1 Raffles Drive, Makati Avenue, Makati City. Pursuit of Less runs from July 30 to August 23 at Eskinita Art Gallery, 59-C Paseo de Roxas, Makati City.
All photos courtesy of Genavee Lazaro.