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As the very well received ‘Ever Changing’ exhibition by K Pagador at RB12 space in London is coming to an end, we take the opportunity to interview her to get further insight on her life and practice. Ever changing is the artistic output of five years of work as well as the result of a ten day silence retreat that K attended, where the idea of this show emanated.
We met K in 2017 when she took part in Chrom.art‘s Tribe17 International Art Festival in London, and we were captivated by the presence of what we started to define as her ‘vertical sculptures’: with the use of found objects and combining different mediums such as oil, inks and acrylic paint but also common materials such as soil, she builds layers and textures that result on organic, uniquely ethereal and tactile tectonic landscapes which evoke feelings that one can hardly put into words.
Kathlyn’s work is inspired in nature, the little details, and impermanence. Thus, Ever Changing.
Please tell us about your journey of becoming an artist, since your early childhood memories until recent times.
Everyone is born an artist. The parents that wanted to be parents are artists, that chef that cares about your food is an artist. You are an artist. Find your own medium.
Being an observer in a world of flying thoughts most days I see beauty in everything. Imagine being in love everyday. That’s how I feel about art. Forever happening.
Early memories involves everything being in slow motion. There were other times where time stopped; the times when I was in love with women, the times I was high on LSD and the time I was put in isolation after being diagnosed with tuberculosis. As my friend Andre would say “You are filled with life!” and I said “Yes. Yes I am.” Am filled with death too and I love it.
I was brought up in the province Camalaniugan, Cagayan, Philippines. As kids we would visit each other’s houses and hang out in the forest -we were liberated. Filipino’s tend to have a very caring background specially for children. I am lucky. Though we did not have much, we made the most of what we had. Resourcefulness is something that I have carried with me throughout my practice as a creative.
Recently I used ‘earth’ to create a piece that I was commissioned for. I used fire too and other forms to give depth to the painting. Another one was sand from Palawan, Philippines whilst I was travelling there in 2015. In the summer of 2018 my partner took me hiking in Eastbourne so it made sense that I took one of the chalk rocks and utilised it for a painting too. What can I say I love nature.
Inspiration comes from everywhere. Some days it could be during conversations with a friend and some days I could just be walking around and something comes up. I guess I don’t go looking for it when I know that it is available and we can make it all happen.
One of the paintings I have taken on recently is a commission from a friend of mine from California. The idea was about raw, organic and the natural state. Freedom played a big part too. So with this in mind, internal as well as external reflection is a must, constantly merging and separating the two at the same time.
Our conversation was of personal experiences and an addition to conversing upon reality – I managed to start having initial ideas as to what the painting would be.
Recently I revealed the painting to my friend and his wife and loved the feedback as I gave them three paintings in the end that is ‘an evolution of life’, ‘the suns’ and the ‘lightness of being’.
The concept to the execution is an ongoing process. This is how I work whereas others have orders. The best way my mind works is that it is not in any type of order. Sometimes A + B = C, Other times A + B = Z. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. It always comes back to ‘play’ and going through the motion of it. That’s life in itself.
My style would be best described as an evolution, a constant change. The message is an ongoing experiment. To allow things to come and go. To embrace impermanence. Let’s face it, we live and we die, everyday. Environment and mindset, like anything, effects each other. It’s a constant dance.
I do find that I paint mainly when am in the state of ‘happiness’. Or I suppose the happiness comes hand in hand when I am in alignment with myself. The act of ‘creating’ in itself helps me overcome whatever state I may be in, so I guess I am feeling everything and nothing at the same time.
I have tried painting when I am sad but this tends to pull me even deeper in that state, where at times I feel more constrained and unable to move at all. So my poetry side comes in handy when I am in this state of sadness; when I was heartbroken, I had written some poetry. Painting and generally being creative (though I always go back to painting) brings me back to life and I fall in love all over again.
Clouds (by Kathlyn Pagador)
We were hanging out in the clouds, floating along with its ethereal scenes.
Through wind, rain and the storms we rode and rode.
Both embraced the darkness and light.
Well that’s what I thought.
To which I found out, I rode alone.
Embraced the darkness.
Embraced the lightness.
And you, gone.
Like the clouds, changed, vanished, back into the salt of the earth.
It was beautiful nonetheless.
Texture is very important in your work. Your paintings are almost vertical sculptures. What are the key techniques you use to achieve a three dimensional effect in your work?
I love that! ‘Vertical sculptures’. Thank you. Indeed texture is dominant in my work, the recipe is combining available objects; be resourceful and identify what kind of element it is: Is it hard or soft, how much depth does it have? Understanding mediums such as the behaviour of watercolour vs oil paints is incredible. As you know, we have been told that water and oil don’t mix, therefore I thought break the rules and the most beautiful things happen.
The easiest example would be if the sun rises in a certain direction, the reflection of its rays would then bounce off in different directions thus creating tones and shadows. The thing is the more we observe this natural state and the more we look, we then see the multiple layers of tones on earth, we notice the perfection of imperfections on the ground. If we look at trees and its leaves, it’s not just brown and green. It’s multiple layers of green. This is how I see my paintings in terms of creating a dimensional effect.
So the key pointers: Understand the natural state of oneself and of others, understand the chosen medium, oh and lots of play.
Natural state can be a memory. For example when I did a painting that merges all of my lovers together and how they made me feel. The essence of those times and shared moments particularly in affection and the comfort of our beds hence the use of bedsheet, light tones of blues and reds to highlight the passion and beauty in freedom.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on myself, perhaps that’s a never ending process. Philosophy aside am working on a new body of work in terms of combining simplification, subtlety and contrast for the upcoming show with RB12 this year. With my signature ‘Vertical sculpture’ paintings.
Have also started applying for residencies in Iceland that involves silence and meditation for 3 months. There is also one that I have applied to which is in Berlin for 6 months that does not require proposal but is rather more interested in seeing ones developing practice.
Really am just going out of my comfort zone as much as possible and explore new places and cultures too. There is so much in the world might as well live it the best way we can and right now am very attracted to combining travel and art together.
There’s one artwork that I have done recently which are sketches of places that I find fascinating such as Richmond Park*. I have lived in London for seven years and stumbled upon the beautiful park a week ago. It was so beautiful, peaceful and tranquil. It’s good to know that people still care about nature. Inspired me to one day buy a land and let it do its thing much like what Sebastiao Salgado (my hero) has done.
I am also exploring the possibility of writing, films and digital creation. In between juggling things such as helping others and building relationships, remember why we do what we do. Am constantly learning and unlearning.
How do people usually react to your art? What are the most common comments you receive?
People tend to get drawn and be lost in my vertical sculpture paintings. There’s a connection of something that is not defined or constrained by anything. It is like being in your own world. You are one with everything
“I don’t know what it is but I feel something”.
Of course in psychoanalysis one would probably be able to identify such cases. If you were to describe the sun rising, you are no longer in one with the sunrise, instead you are focused on ‘describing’ something else that is not of what it is thus these moments are of indescribable feelings.
What is your all-time favourite piece of art?
I feel like I have not seen enough to name favourites exactly. But from what I have seen so far…
My all time favourites of art are those who breaks the conformity or those that bring ‘life’ in this world through other means. I can say that I love Marina Abramovic “512 hours”. I remember attending at the Serpentine and it was something I was looking for.
Anselm Keifer and this piece of art with diamond dust overlooking a desert sort of piece that I saw at the Royal Academy of Arts few years ago – this is before I knew anyone else is working on texture – I try not to be influenced by other people’s work but his one definitely blew me away.
Bjork. Just her beingness; music and videos. Just speaks to me in all sorts of shapes and forms.
Nature, just the way it is. People would be like “???” If I need to further explain myself, one has therefore not experienced life, go inward to start with and perhaps you’ll see a glimpse of it.
Sebastião Salgado and the evolution of his work. His life itself is an art.
What is your relationship with colour?
Colour. There’s just so many layers of colour. Black is not just black. There’s all sorts of shades. Safe to say I love it. Colour is a language on its own. It is a form of realm in conversing to one another or with oneself. Try and imagine everything being just white, it will somehow make us feel lighter.
Some darker shades makes us feel smaller. It’s amazing isn’t it? Am grateful to see colour and share this medium in a way that enables us to connect one way or another.
How has your style developed?
I have worked with realism, illustration, graphics, architecture and so on and now abstract, writing, film and photography. Am constantly changing and I feel like it is vital to cover as much of other abilities other than painting. Though I always do go back to painting.
My brother and I used to watch ‘Naruto’, ‘Bleach’ and Ghost In The Shell’. I was fascinated by the story and the style of drawing. So much so that my work had changed from realism into a combination of illustration and anime. I wanted to break the rules by stepping away from the romantic era that I was brought up in – perhaps that is also the evolution that reflects one’s life.
When I attended City College of Brighton and Hove, one of my colleagues was obsessed with anime. One day our tutor mentioned that in order to to fully develop anime, one needs to understand real life first. This really influenced the way I work with abstracts. I still paint still life like grapes or draw bamboo. It’s like dance, sometimes it’s fluid and other times it can be very fast and messy.
PROJECT X (2008 – Present)
Largely influenced by Klimt in terms of Symbolism, Art Nouveau, and Romanticism. Project X was the start of painting portraits/figures away from realism. This was made by stripping away the tones of layers that is often used in traditional fine art. A statement that less is more.
PROJECT : FLAW – FLOW (2011)
Minimalism, in-action (no plans were made) and primary subject was of the female body are the key factor for this project. Less is more principle is further developed – now drawing more towards abstraction.
PROJECT : UNTITLED : PLANS AND CHANCES 0000 (2014 to Present)
Texture signature and the fluidity of united mediums is prominent.
The title “Untitled : Plans and Chances 0000” is both a play on word and technique. It is also followed by a number to indicate the time when the artwork is finished. The title is deliberate so that one’s attention is on the painting rather than the title.
I wanted to bring forth the attention to subjects that are often forgotten; the little details of raw reality – just like the painting– and just be.
What are the inspirations behind your work? What are your major influences?
Am inspired by life and influenced by eternal curiosity.
I usually cycle but a few months ago decided to take the Transport for London (TFL) underground, it reminded me why I would rather cycle. Then again I created something out of that journey which I’m very happy about.
Another memorable source of inspiration is the one from my travels in the Philippines with friends during typhoon season. Oh the stories!