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Metro Artist Profiles: Yvonne Quisumbing

The artist talks about her participation on this year’s Art In The Park, as well as her journey in both art and fashion.

Cebu-based multimedia artist Yvonne Quisumbing graces this year’s edition of Art In The Park, one of the most anticipated art fairs in the country.

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Artist Yvonne Quisumbing

Her featured works include ‘The Great Health Puzzle" and ‘The Wrappings of the Mind", exhibited by Silverlens galleries for the event. “The pieces are about healing: the gift of remedy through plants made available by nature, and vices as seeds of illness in humans, a society or a country. Through images of flora and fauna juxtaposed with human figures, these paintings explore the struggles and obstacles in the path towards healing and attaining a sense of wellbeing,” she tells Metro.Style.


But before delving into exhibitions, Yvonne first made waves in the international fashion scene. She represented the Philippines at the Concours de Jeunes Créateur de Monde in Paris in 2001 and 2005, as well as the Japan Airlines Award for the Makuhari Asian Fashion Competition in Osaka in 1999. In the early 2000s, the artist also took home the Grand Prize in the Philippine Fashion and Design Competition for Apparel and Accessories.


The artist mounted her first solo presentation, the Infernal Desire Machines, in 2005, where she explored the breadth of her skills with a dynamic fusion of fashion, sculpture, and painting to create wearable and interactive art. And from there on, she carried all these elements into her present work, as evident in pieces she now creates.

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The Great Health Puzzle

She shares how art inspired her fashion, and vice versa. “Clothing, when manipulated on a human canvas, can send invisible ripples that affect its surroundings. I’m curious about masking as a basis for fashion. Painting, on the other hand, helps me further dissect this recurring theme of masks. And for me, fashion or painting inspires the other because I believe I’m dealing with the same subject matter,” Yvonne explains.


Apart from Art In The Park, the artist is currently documenting local medicinal plants that are being used as remedy in some places in Cebu. “I’m hoping that I can apply this knowledge in my work,” Yvonne shares.


Get to know more about Yvonne Quisumbing as an artist, her style evolution, and her realizations during the ongoing lockdown in a special interview below.


Can you tell us about the specific story when the inkling for art started?

“My parents built a furniture business in 1983, wherein they hired artisans specializing in metalwork, painting, woodwork and stone craft. I think my love for the arts was first sparked by that environment which presented numerous potential mediums for art.”

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Green Eyes, oil acrylic on canvas

What is it about art that pulls you in and that you absolutely love about it? How has it made you who you are today?

“I’m fascinated with the concept that a complex and abstract idea can be interpreted into something visual or tangible, like a painting or a sculpture, which then communicates a range of sensations to a viewer. The process of painting gives me the chance to explore ideas, and thus makes me more aware of the subject matters I’m trying to convey.”


Would you have a favorite piece or series that you worked on in your career?

“I believe that my current work is a progression from my previous ones. They’re all part of a continuum, wherein every stage is as important as the next. And for me, they’re all necessary as a foundation for future projects.” 


How has your style evolved through the years? 

“I’m intrigued by the idea of masks, both literal and figurative, and the psychology behind the concept of persona. I believe the reason why I worked as a fashion designer for several years is because I thought of fashion as sort of a mask that affects and alters perception, and changes your attitude towards yourself and the behavior of others towards you. Inevitably, this theme carried on with my paintings wherein I could further delve into this motif.”

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Art in the Park 2021 - Merch by Yvonne Quisumbing

With the ongoing lockdown, what are the realizations you've taken from being in quarantine? How has it affected your art?

“During the lockdown and most of 2020, I was working on a series on Philippine medicinal plants for women’s ailments particularly from conception to the postnatal stage. Part of the series is the piece 'The Great Health Puzzle' which highlights the value of each human life, as a piece of the puzzle, vital to complete the healing of a motherland, and at the same time the work reflects the existential struggles mothers are faced with in a pandemic. Furthermore, the health crisis somehow unraveled the intentions of some people in power, and revealed the role of vices like greed, envy and pride in undermining their integrity; these vices are introduced in the series The Wrappings of the Mind.”


You can view more of Yvonne Quisumbing’s works on her website yvonnequisumbing.com. You may also follow her on Instagram @yvonnequisumbing. Explore Art in the Park in its virtual space at https://shop.artinthepark.ph/ until February 28, and follow the fair on Instagram @artintheparkph.