Cover Gabby Prado

This dancer and visual artist believes the hurdles in life are no match to our faith in ourselves.

For Gabby Prado, abstract painting may also be executed like a dance performance on stage. Transforming movement into large-scale art, she draws out of her life experiences like a visual memory narrated through an endearing aesthetic journey. Prado finished a degree in fine arts, major in painting from the University of the Philippines. She has been a ballet dancer since she was young.

How did your passion for the arts come about?

It started in my childhood. I drew and painted a lot, using crayons and markers and I felt very attached to colours and elements. Vincent Van Gogh’s piece The Starry Night really caught my attention and it inspired me to paint in his style. I realised that art made me feel alive… I was very drawn to it because of the freedom it gave me. Apart from painting, I also took classes in ballet and contemporary dance. Soon I have learnt how dance and visual art are very connected. There were two professors from my thesis that helped me become the artist that I am today: Katti Sta Ana and Bob Feleo. They inspired me to strive to work hard. Without them, I don’t think I would have been able to paint and do exhibitions.

Name other artists who inspire you and tell us what you love about their work.

Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky and Filipino artist Geraldine Javier. Both created a relationship of colour and form throughout an aesthetic experience. In their work, each element conveys a strong stroke of lines, intense colour, geometry, a form of non-objective art and a sense of spirituality. They have so many beautiful works!

What does “art” mean to you?

One of my favourite things about art is its language. I am not very good at writing, but I love colour. Art lets me share my many ideas without having to speak. It is like my personal diary.

Tell us about abstract art. How did your passion for this movement come about and how is your background in dance a big part in your artistic journey?

I danced ballet for almost 15 years and did contemporary dance for two to three years at the Halili Cruz School of Ballet. There have been times where I was very frustrated with my paintings. But when I learnt about the Serbian artist Marina Abramovic, known as “the grandmother of performance art”, I was inspired. She was a pioneer in the use of performance art as a visual art medium. I thought, why not be like her and perform with my body to express with canvas? Like visual art, dance lets me tell a story without using my mouth. Abstract Expressionists inspired me to express myself without feeling limited by my condition. I have severe hearing loss in my right ear and profound hearing loss in my left ear. Since Abstract Expressionism is characterised by spontaneity, it gave me freedom to express my story.

Tell us more about some of your pieces.

I have a form of synaesthesia called “Chromesthesia”, where colour responds to a particular sound and movement. Through the years, I have wanted to explore making visual art and producing sound to go with it. I also draw inspiration from re-evaluating my memories. Most of the time I would pick up an idea or topic and form a visual diary. My life experiences, interactions, passions, interests, reflection— all manifest in my artwork and have changed over time. They have become more challenging and more intuitive. My work has also always been about being a Filipino female artist, about the experience and about how I feel about being in that space.

What would you like to say to budding Filipino artists?

I know it is tough to keep the career going. Keep striving for your idea of the big picture, to go beyond and outside the box. In the beginning, I was afraid of what other people might say about my work. Eventually, I realised that I have created an identity for myself as an artist without my knowing. I have another advice for artists with disabilities: Don’t say “can’t”. Let your passion keep you going.

This story was originally published in the 27th volume of Tatler Homes Philippines. Download it on your digital device via Zinio, Magzter, or Pressreader.

  • ImagesGabby Prado and Galerie Stephanie
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