By S.C. Fojas

As Katrina Cuenca put one last finishing touch on her painting, the background music also came to an end, and after a few hours, she once again created a masterpiece. 

Katrina Cuenca

“Music is very important in my artistic process. I always have music blasting while I am working. In fact, I name most of my paintings after the songs I listen to while painting them. After I finish a painting, I make sure to look at it, listen to the song it’s named after, and imagine it moving to the music,” says Katrina. “In my style, I am very mindful of the movement of my figures. I like to keep the movement graceful and soft. They are expressionist artworks in a way because my hands follow that movement while I am painting. It feels like a dance or meditation sometimes and it can be seen in the brushstrokes of the paintings.”

When in the zone, her brush in sync with her favorite song, she created a dancing masterpiece, still on canvas yet moving in your mind. It formed part of a series that focuses on the representation of the feminine form, her expression of the internal states of the female being, “The Divine Feminine.” 

Equable Bubble

“The Divine Feminine” at Galerie Raphael for ManilArt 2020 explored the aspects of Katrina Cuenca and Marge Morano’s identity as expressed through their art, as well as each unique culture and narrative informed by their personal experiences as women of the arts. Whether the work is referencing the self and body, sexuality, and gender, or conflict and healing within, each artist brings their distinctive perspective through unexpected visuals and contemporary techniques. 

Abstract Dream

“My exhibit features paintings from both my old series and new series. In my new series, I used a matte black paint that absorbs 99.9 percent of light and I composed that alongside the gloss of the oil paint and the shine of gold leaf,” says Katrina. “I’ve always intended for light to be an external medium of my paintings because different lighting conditions dramatically change the way my paintings look, so my paintings look different during different times of day. With my new series, the contrast of that effect is even more prominent because of the black paint that I use.”

Her personal favorite is the 48” x 48” Beacon in the Night. “I love the flow of the figure and how it has an ethereal stance. The figures of my paintings move in a graceful way, which I hope gives its viewers a sense of calm and tranquility. I also hope that my use of gold leaf for the background gives a sense of happiness and brightness for the viewers.”

Everlasting Fall

Katrina’s expressionist art came from her long journey as an artist. Being surrounded by paintings while growing up sparked her interest in art. Behind her was her supportive mother who encouraged her to join workshops and elective art classes in school.

“My work has changed quite a lot from when I started actively pursuing a career as a painter. Like most artists, I went through that journey of discovering who I was as an artist. I noticed my paintings evolved based on my life experiences. I did a lot of surrealist paintings some years ago, and I did enjoy doing that a lot but it felt more like my younger self,” she intimates. “After my mother passed away, that series of paintings didn’t feel like myself anymore so I knew I had to find something that felt more appropriate to what I was experiencing at that time. That’s when my series depicting objects like fabric, petals, and fins and tails of fish moving under water began. I painted that because I needed to find peace in my life again.”

Because of all the chaos happening around the world, we are all faced with this existential crisis and it makes me think of how we perceive things and the world in general. It is a depiction of my need to change my mindset.

Katrina’s life changed after her mother died and that also brought change to her style. When the pandemic came, through all the struggles and challenges, she started another series with figures that seemed suspended in mid-air.

“As an artist, I also love to experiment with my materials. I used to prefer acrylic as my medium until I experimented with oil paints and loved them. I also love Gustav Klimt’s work, which made me want to use gold leaf. And once I got my hands on some and learned how to use it, I never stopped. I think the evolution of my work will involve the use of different materials that I experiment with. I believe it is important especially as an abstract artist to continue to experiment with different materials and techniques.”

Majestic Release

Each of Katrina’s artworks represents her inner thoughts and the brush on her hand becomes an avenue to express her thoughts. 

“As for my new series, I came up with that during the start of the pandemic. Because of all the chaos happening around the world, we are all faced with this existential crisis and it makes me think of how we perceive things and the world in general,” she ends. “It is a depiction of my need to change my mindset. It is a reminder that there is always a different way—better, I hope—to look at things. With it, I hope to spark a sense of wonder and curiosity as well. The figures are a result of completely reimagining how one would understand or perceive certain objects.”

Call Galerie Raphael at Shangri-La at +63 (2) 8 941-6194 or Galerie Raphael Serendra at +63 (2) 8 856-3034.

Source: Manila Bulletin (