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This Seven-Time Degree Holder’s Artworks Are Becoming an Aesthetic Home Décor Favorite

Filipino artist and pop art painter Sean Go swapped his finance field success for a shot at the art scene, and his dynamic works are now emerging as a collectors' favorite

It was a new true north for Sean Go as his inner compass points him to a crossroad. What initially started as a childhood pastime has erupted to a passion project that he just had to pursue to satiate his calling, spinning his priorities southward. In the midst of a metamorphosis after a life-altering event that broadened his eyeshot, this seven-time degree holder and dream chaser converted from finance to fine arts and tailed the artist track. 

“After my close friend passed away unexpectedly at 28, I basically had a quarter-life crisis, because I saw how someone so perfect could easily be taken away in a moment,” Sean harks back. “As someone who often prioritized achievements and a workaholic mentality, I believe this event took a toll on me because it forced me to revaluate my priorities. A habitual asker and seeker of sense and sensibility, he adds:

“My art seeks to remember my friends, our collective experiences, our societal sentiments, and serves to document the emotions and beliefs we have.” As someone who is “Socratic” in nature, Sean’s visual narratives equate to personal expression. “My art is a diary of sorts of my ideas, and my thoughts—which can be both playful and dark. Through color, allusions, and references to pop culture and mythical legends, this shared vocabulary helps make my art accessible.”

Never the short-sighted one, Sean would often necessitate a purpose behind his pursuits, thinking long-term and future-proofing the functionality of his works. “Fifty years from now, I hope to have inspired other people to follow their passions despite prevailing hegemony telling them that they cannot succeed. The interesting shift in mindset as an artist is that my goal is to stir emotions in others, whereas previously in finance, it was largely to maximize profits.”

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With three Bachelor’s under his belt, four Master’s as a follow-up, and a firm grasp of the foundations of telling stories that stir emotions, discoveries, and eventual realizations, Sean’s artworks are a rendition of the past, present, and possible tomorrows. Backed by his training and education at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the pop culture parody expressionist aims to activate the past and preserve its memory via visual memoirs.

“I think in history,” Sean reflects, “we see that ever since ancient Greece and Rome and to the renaissance and present-day art, art is a form of self and societal preservation. We document our culture through ideas that hopefully spark conversations on why things might be the way they are, and how to improve our society. Art has a way of preserving the past while looking towards the future, and that is one of the main attributes that pulled me to pursue art full-time.”

Keep reading to know more about the artist and his masterpieces:

Metro.Style: When did you start as an artist? What steered you into this direction and what vision did you have in mind when you ventured into this industry?

Sean: While I often drew and painted recreationally when I was growing up in Manila, I only became a full-time artist in 2021. Prior to art, I worked in finance in the Philippines, Singapore, and the USA. My greatest passion is to create something memorable out of nothing. In my artistic process, I love to ask thought-provoking questions, to honor people who have significant impacts on us, and to immortalize these stories in a relatable but nuanced way.

One of my visions is to help inspire others, to play with ideas that hopefully enable us to understand the paradoxes, ironies, and conflicting experiences in our lived experiences. The vision I had was to follow in the footsteps of some of my favorite international and local Filipino artists like Jeff Koons, Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, Ang Kiukok, and Federico Aguilar Alcuaz in combining colorful techniques with historical narratives that bring about nostalgia, socio-economic critique, and a reverence to the old masters from the past. At the same time, I think it is my duty to insert Filipino character to my works, and to take ownership of my roots in Manila, Philippines.

Metro.Style: What is the overall concept behind your collections? What objective do your creations carry?

Sean: The goal of my collections is to tell stories that are a “snapshot in time” of our culture and the circumstances that we find ourselves in. I think it is important to capture our current sentiments, ethics, attitudes, and prevailing narratives so that future generations, family members, friends, and historians can learn about the collective human mindset, with all its nuances in the future. I strongly believe that art can retroactively be used as a lens for the future generations to learn about us. Just as we study historical annals of Roman consuls fleshed out by oral tradition, I hope my art serve a similar function in the future.

My favorite collection is my Filipino Heritage collection, which reimagines pop art if the originators of the movement including Warhol and Lichtenstein were Filipino. I am told that pieces like the Frozen Kalesa is heartwarming for mothers who grew up with fond memories of the kalesa while their daughters grew up with Elsa the princess, and combining these hits a sweet spot in emotionally stirring their hearts. Pumba Tocino eats at nostalgia in a different and more hilarious way that helps Filipinos own their sentimental memories of a rather unhealthy breakfast.

Metro.Style: Can you give us a brief backgrounder on how you gravitated to this creative path? What propelled you to pursue the arts? Has it always been a passion of yours?

Sean: Art has always been a passion of mine—and my childhood friends know that I offer solid drawing lessons, especially for Dragon Ball Z hair, buff male bodies, and predators like sharks and dragons. My friends know me as an idea machine and creating art that is inspired in part by them, and the conditioning of our environment, is incredibly fun. In grade one, I was offered a “commission” by my friend to draw a picture of a tank even! Today, I have done commission for both people and companies, though I limit commissions as they typically are not as creatively-inducing.

Because I really take my art practice seriously and I needed a historical training to be conversant in fine art, I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) to pursue a Master of Arts. I think New York City is the place with the most historic modern and contemporary art, even beating European capitals. Just the MoMA has La Danse by [Henri] Matisse, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by [Pablo] Picasso, and The Starry Night by [Vincent] Van Gogh. My professors at FIT have been curators and notable art dealers and it is a privilege to be able to learn from them, and see how they go about selecting art.

Metro.Style: Name some notable recognitions that you have received throughout your career track.

Sean: I’ve been on shows in three countries in my first year, in the Philippines, multiple states in the USA, and in Jakarta. My work was sold in the first MoCAF Art Fair, credits to my awesome dealer Derek Flores of DF Art Agency. I also made my first appearance on national TV at CNN, talking about my art and the lens through which these pieces showcase the Filipino experience, both the positive, and the areas for improvement. The CNN interview with Paolo Abrera was probably my highlight of the year as far as art milestones is concerned. 

Metro.Style: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Sean: My inspiration is from folklore, parables, legends, myths, the Bible, TV, and ethereal songs. A lot of my style infuses childhood memories—there is something magnetic about retelling the stories that I have loved listening to as a child, but this time reimagined as a visual piece that can be satirical at times. People in my life like my parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends also inspire me. Some of my works are secretly about them.

Metro.Style: What iconic art do you applaud the most? What makes it special?

Sean: One of my favorite pieces is Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Picasso—one of the most iconic artworks that marks the beginning of Picasso’s critically acclaimed cubism. I love the peachy colors, the use of African face masks as inspiration, and the bold defiance he had against the Parisian academic school of painting at the time, which was focused on methodological realist paintings, not abstract forms and more creative expressions of ideas.

Browse through his body of wonder-proving works:

Metro.Style: What does your art bring afresh to spaces?

Sean: Intellectually, my art brings fresh conversations and is great as an icebreaker. When you look at my art, it starts simple, but can easily turn into deep questions on the capitalist industrial complex, perceptions of beauty, and the celebration of your own stories. I hope my art can bring people together and remind them to rethink their past preconceptions or at the very least, smile when they see one of my pieces in their living room. I really enjoy viewing my friends’ and collectors’ stories on IG, because I never know when my art pieces will make a cameo appearance in the background.

Aesthetically, my art is often colored with the palettes of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, so they have this neon pop aesthetic that adds childish curiosity and color to the walls that they are hung on.

Metro.Style: What are your top decorating tips?

Sean: Decorate your room with art, ornaments, or objects that have sentimental value. If you watch Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon, the Sea Snake essentially has a castle of his various treasures from his sea explorations. That is what I would recommend—buy cool trinkets from your trips and have them as small remembrances of your journeys across the Earth.

Metro.Style: Who are the design heroes that you draw influence or inspiration from?

Sean: James Von Klemperer, my former professor at Columbia’s School of Architecture, sparks creativity in the most novel ways. His company, KPF, developed many landmarks globally including 1 Vanderbilt here in New York City, multiple buildings in Hudson Yards, and in Hong Kong. I love the way he encourages innovative thinking such as using public space in the world’s busiest cities. In this way, he helps to create beautiful communal spaces with gardens, inspiring architecture, or design aesthetics that is not limited to being enjoyed by a few, but by the entire community.

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