“Whimsically captivating” and “out of this realm” are just some of the words that will come to mind when one sees the artworks of Filipino pop surrealist Buhay Mendoza whose painting career literally started like a walk in a park. Buhay talks about his humble beginnings, artistic influences, and gives tips to aspiring visual artists.
PCI: How did your love affair with painting start?
Buhay: In 2008, I was enjoying a picnic with my friends at Parks & Wild Life and we saw a group of artists doing a plein air session. I got really interested so I asked one of them if I could join their group so I can learn how to paint. And that was it. At first, I thought it’s just going to be a fun hobby, but it’s definitely more than I could’ve imagined. In the same year, we had an exhibit, which was monumental for me. The first artwork I ever sold was bought by a maid and was paid in installments. Everything else is history.
PCI: What made you decide to paint full-time?
Buhay: I always pray before making major decisions. By that time, I was working at a call center in Manila so I asked for a sign: if I ever made a sale on my first solo exhibit, I’ll dedicate my time to painting. That night, I sold 9 out of the 25 artworks I displayed.
PCI: Who are your artistic inspirations and influences?
Buhay: Mark Ryden greatly influenced me. Of course I’m also inspired by the greats: Picasso, Monet, Warhol, Rembrandt. There are also some contemporary artists.
PCI: Do you have a favorite piece among your creations?
Buhay: I treat them as if they’re my kids, I love them all. But my favorite is called “Love Knot” and Cielo en la Tierra (Heaven on Earth).
PCI: What were the obstacles you encountered as an artist in the Philippines?
Buhay: I’d say it’s the general public’s awareness and appreciation of art. It’s so different from the way art is valued in other countries.
PCI: How did you overcome that setback?
Buhay: I simply love what I do. But I do hope that one day we can get some support from the government, like school art programs that focus on the importance of music and art in our culture.
PCI: Do you have any tips for aspiring artists?
Buhay: If they want to be a visual artist like me, it will be difficult. They should be ready to starve and struggle at first. They need to be honest with themselves as well. This profession is driven by passion. We don’t it to chase fame, but mainly (for self expression) to promote our culture.
You can see more of Buhay’s artwork on his two-week solo exhibit at Gallery Nine, SM Megamall entitled “Biologo.” It will run from August 13 – 25, 2013.
All photos courtesy of Buhay Mendoza.