Spotlight #16: Mek Yambao on her technique and inspiration

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Since there are only three spots on Bleaq every week an a lot of talented artists I keep a list of talented people I’d like to feature in the future. One thing I love is when an artist on that list contacts me first: it feels like an instant match! ;) This recently happened with Philippine artist Mek Yambao. I found her work though Pinterest, and am fascinated by how she combines different techniques. I asked her if she’d be interested sharing some insights on those techniques and I’m sharing those with you today in this 16th installment of the ‘Spotlight’-series. Enjoy!

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Bleaq: Can you introduce yourself and your work in a few sentences?
Mek: My name is Mek Yambao and I’m from Manila, Philippines. My work explores dreams, psyche and the multiverse through my creative process and visual output as introspection made through painting media with intersecting surreal automatic drawings on wood. Different interpretations allow me to explore what could have been my personal intrinsic thoughts in creating the piece and also having a moment of connection with the viewer and get a glimpse of how they think. I’m fascinated with this process of thinking and mental relations with an aid of a visual manifestation, an artwork, and that’s how I see art being a powerful catalyst to ignite thoughts, develop ideas, and create ripples in the ocean of the collective consciousness.

Also, I will for the next color to be discovered outside the visual spectrum named after me.

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Your earlier works shows mainly ink drawings, your recent work is more mixed media based. How did you start combining your ink-drawn elements with classic styled oil paintings? When did you start using wood as a medium?
Mek: I fell in love with traditional oil paintings; the mastery required to create them and how they stood the test of time really fascinated me. I enjoyed working with oils the most and also found myself drawing nonchalantly in between. Perhaps it’s safe to say that they’re both my favorite mediums so I decided to combine them. Around the same time, using wood as base is something I picked up from working in an art restoration lab. It stands as a more stable ground for paint and it also reinforces the natural element in the piece.

Nature and the female body seem to be a big influence in your work. Can you tell a bit more about your fascination for those elements? Does the nature of your country, The Philippines, play a role in your work?
Mek: Nature is everywhere and creates tremendous effects on people. It can be both calming and chaotic. With the female anatomy, I think it best represents beauty as a form. It’s complex and divine. Converged with nature, I find it to be mesmerizing.

My themes include arbitrary ideas and stories of which I gather from traveling around the country to outside my window. Elements from these have been incorporated to me, thus also my work.

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On your website you mention you participated in quite a lot of group shows and are now working on your first solo exhibition. Can you tell a bit more about the exhibition and the work you’re going to display? For instance: will there be a theme?
Mek: The exhibition is in its’ early stages of conceptualizing at the moment. I plan to create new series of works in accordance to a singular theme that leans toward storytelling. I want the show to resonate with people on a personal level. A bit vague at this point but I’m looking forward to it.

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Who are your favorite artists? How do they inspire your work?
Mek: Oh boy, where do I start? I have so much! They vary in art styles and movements too. It seems undecided but I guess I’m influenced and inspired by all of them as a collective. Primarily, there’s Salvador Dali and James Jean. I really admire the artists who are classically trained before diverging into their own style. I think its a huge part of the mastery to know the rules before breaking them. Their works inspire me to see things differently and not just as it is.

It’s probably like asking parents which of their kids they like best, but do you have a piece or pieces from your work that you like best? If so, why that one?
Mek: This is probably such a cliché thing to say but my favorite would always be the most recent piece. They’re visual diaries; they contain whatever I am in that certain point in my life that’s always interesting to explore and learn about: the present.

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With many social networking websites it’s almost hard to keep track of everything! How important is the internet for you as an artist?
Mek: That’s true. The internet is like the deepest seas in the world! You can either utilize it or drown in it. I find it to be such an easy outlet for artists, or basically anyone, to get their material to a wider, international audience. Most especially to those who don’t have the means to since it barely costs anything. I get to use it to contribute to permeate creativity and even more-so, be influenced by the world.

Last but not least: can you recommend a book, movie or artist you’ve enjoyed lately?
Mek: I highly recommend Jorodowsky’s Dune (2013). It’s a documentary about the Jorodowsky’s vision in creating what could’ve been the greatest sci-fi film, Dune. Bittersweet yet inspiring, definitely a must-watch.

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That’s it for today! Thank you for reading! A big thanks goes out to Mek for being so kind to answer my questions, I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I did :) You can find more about Mek and her work on her website. Hope you have a lovely weekend, see you monday!

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