Unbothered by leaving a legacy, Mark Nicdao, the country’s most notable lensman explores the depths of creative freedom. Read an excerpt below.
We start our talk as everyone does these days, about the pandemic. I ask him if he found the quarantine a creative time—or, like many artists, felt paralyzed by the changing circumstances and anxieties. “We’re all in a limbo, but I’m a type of person who can’t just think about all the worst things that could happen. Thank god, I’m much more of a romanticist, so I can actually think of other things to get me out of ridiculous thoughts. It helped me a lot in terms of making me more productive and dedicated in so many ways,” he shares.
Rather than capturing the glamourous life of a celebrity or being engrossed with high-intensity fashion shoots, painting is what’s preoccupying him right now he says, “with the pandemic, I thought to myself ‘when am I ever going to paint again?’ So, during that time I found the courage and a sort of discipline with my art.” This isn’t fresh news about the veteran photographer, having joined several group shows in the past in the past and being dubbed as the “Juan Luna of Philippine photographers” when he successfully sold his mural-sized artwork titled Wormhole On My Cognitive Estrangement at the Leon Gallery last 2019.
Nicdao’s prominent status was a double-edged sword when he first transitioned mediums, but it eventually turned into his greatest weapon.
I was able to talk to him just a few days before his art show, The Imaginings of a Disinhibiting Manic Neurotransmitter, which coincides with his 43rd birthday and will be held at the most trusted auction house in the Philippines, Leon Gallery. “I’m not trying to be intellectual or highfaluting with the title of show and titles of the pieces, but these are all just words that I can put to describe everything I made. It’s all contradicting,” he expounds after letting out a big laugh as I repeated to him the title of the show all in one breath.
It’s his first-ever solo exhibit and if there’s one thing that you can expect from both his images and art is that it always tells a story.
The abstract paintings in the sold-out show are intense and hypnotic, with each stroke on the canvas shifting depending on the light.
“They’re ethereal with the most beautiful colors, but at the same time, there are some pieces like the one where you can almost see a face of a person that’s skinned alive.” He’s referring to his painting called A Very Alarming Version Of A Pinch Of Reality.
“I was going through a lot. I can’t say I was in the best mental state doing it. But the only thing I know is that it was how I felt.” Although he refuses to go any deeper about the collection, he describes it as psychedelic with a hint of darkness and melancholy. And it gravitates the viewers for the same reason that Nicdao created it: a visual depiction of our human nature to have contradicting thoughts.
Photography VILLIE JAMES BAUTISTA
Photography Assistants ARSAN SULSER HOFILEÑA, CRIS SOCO, and PHIL NICDAO
Styling GEOFFROY DE BOISSIEU
Shoot Coordination KZ FRANCISCO and MJ ALMERO
Shot on location SIREN STUDIOS