ARTIST AT WORK: Gather, cut, and paste

Arturo Sanchez and his ‘Desire Of Immortality 2,’ acrylic and collage on clear cast resin, 2020

Angono, Rizal-based multimedia artist Arturo Sanchez Jr. graduated from the Technological Institute of the Philippines with a degree in architecture, which he never really practiced. After finishing college, he went straight to being a fulltime visual artist, bringing with him the design skills and knowledge he acquired in his classes, minus the technical stuff. But similar to how an architect works on construction projects, alterations, and renovations, Sanchez’s art-making process also necessitates precision and outlines, albeit freer and more spontaneous.

Sanchez dabbles in a multitude of artistic forms, making use of different materials, but he calls most of his works as collages, which he considers his signature medium and the foundation of his artistic practice, something that sets him apart from his artist peers. This distinctive aspect of his work, according to him, started in 2009, in a solo show where he first used the medium.

TROUBLED SOUL, acrylic and collage on clear cast resin, 2021; and BEFORE DARKNESS COMES I, acrylic and collage on clear cast resin, 2021

“I think what makes my collage different from other collages is the way I present it,” he said. In his 2009 show, Sanchez used a mirror as one of his collage’s protective barrier and had its silver-coated back scratched. The result is a preview of two images at the same time: the collage itself and another image produced by the reflection from the mirror.

Experimentations like these are what separates him from those who also employ the collage as their primary art form. “From the 2009 show, my works evolved abruptly,” he said. “I did a collage with cut out canvas, collage in convex mirror, collage in shattered mirror, and then, recently, collage and acrylic in clear cast resin. I think this is the product of a continuous search for possibilities with regards to medium or experimenting within the medium itself.”

INTROSPECTION, acrylic and collage on clear cast resin, 2021; and TO FALL ON DEAD EARS, acrylic and collage on clear cast resin, 2020

One of the things that Sanchez enjoys most in doing a collage is the freedom it gives him as a storyteller. The collage is, for him, the most liberating medium he has ever used. According to Sanchez, there are lots of ways you can tell a story using the form. “Layers of shifting narrative,” he calls it, where you would see details and elements within the collage possessing their own unique tales. Sanchez conjures a narrative from various narratives or tell “stories within stories” using just the source material, such as magazines, brochures, and pamphlets. His artistic process of “hunting and gathering” already begins the moment he browses any book.

“In my art practice I just search for ways and means to channel my ideas into a final work. There are times I just read books of artists that I admire. I study the principles that are vital in making myself a better artist,” he said. “I like the idea of my art affecting other people’s lives or even impacting my own life. I want art to be as simple as possible. Just create and inspire.”

In one of his interviews, Sanchez said that his art was basically him telling stories about himself and his experiences. His feelings, sentiments, and passions are almost automatically reflected in his collages. Right now, while he does not let the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic impact his work, he noticed a darker and more depressed vibe in his latest works.

DESIRE OF IMMORTALTY 3, acrylic and collage on clear cast resin, 2020; and DESIRE OF IMMORTALTY, acrylic and collage on clear cast resin, 2020

This is evident in one recent work, another collage titled A Troubled Soul, which was part of the group show “Beginnings and Endings” that Sanchez organized at the Galerie Roberto. In the work, he presented an image of a figure in anguish overlaid against shadowy patches of cutouts, an assemblage of figures, splashed with acrylic and layered with dark and gloomy details.

Like in most of his works, he used different repurposed cutouts, which are meticulously gathered and thoroughly selected, as his building blocks. His current emotional state acted like a cement that combined everything together as well as dictated tone and color. In A Troubled Soul, Sanchez, an architect of visual narratives, demolished himself, picked up the debris, and built a skyscraper of desolation.

“Beginnings and Endings” ran from June 27 to July 12, 2021 at Galerie Roberto. |

Source: Manila Bulletin (