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FOCUS / Philippines
Hot Prospector Filipino artist Nasser Lubay is a creative opportunist, seizing any chance to try new challenges.
When a door closed, self-taught artist Nasser Lubay opened a window. Having missed the deadline for submissions for a nationally recognised art competition, Nasser turned to technology in search of alternatives. “I Googled ‘international art prize’,” says the artist with a smile. His fortuitous search eventually led him to the Celeste Prize, an international art competition held in Berlin, where his watercolour work Rebirth earned him second honours and the distinction of being the only Filipino to have ever won the prize. Rebirth represents much of Lubay’s blossoming artistic style: rooted in tattoo and graphic art, impossibly detailed and outlandishly coloured. It is Salvador Dali on acid. “Most of my works are all about moments,” says Lubay, “It’s an emotion that I try to capture on canvas.” There is no distinguishable object in his paintings, but only a miasma of half-remembered dreams. Since then, his work has been included in the 2009-2010 Animamix Biennial, curated by Victoria Lu, creative director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai, and has been shown at Kuala Lumpur Design Week. Last July, Lubay took in the beautiful
124 Surface Asia
colour and rich culture of the Mayan Riviera as a recipient of the Ondarte International Artist Residency. Though better known for his painting, Lubay also finds himself pulled into the future by his fascination for live media, a movement he was exposed to while in Berlin. Late last year, he got a chance to try his hand at it re-creating and iterating on the media projections he saw in Berlin. He collaborated with multi-awarded composer Jesse Lucas to transform a classic Filipino tale into a rock musical. By combining a live video feed, stock animation and a little ingenuity, Lubay made it possible for dancers to interact with projected art. The feat was difficult to accomplish, he says: “You really need a whole team to work with you.” Though he has not given up his quest to push the boundaries of art and technology, he’s now taking a break from live art to concentrate on his first solo exhibition this year. “I have a really ambitious personal goal. For that to become reality, I need to make my work as good as possible, even if it takes all of my time.” nasserlubay.com
Portrait Jojit Lorenzo
WORDS CARREN JAO
Surface Asia- Feb 2012 Philippine focus issue. Selected writings by Carren Jao.