People say genius is a curse. Prodigies in art, literature, and music, have been known to possess an all- consuming passion for their crafts, that it has been popular belief and assumption that in order to become a legitimate creator of beautiful things, one must be broken. Or, simply, odd, even in the slightest of ways.
“A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament”, as Oscar Wilde so uniquely once wrote.
It then comes as a breath of fresh air, when someone as gifted as Iligan City- based painter Kurt Lluch (read L-yootch) is as happy, nonchalant, and mellow as, well, Kurt Lluch.
No ear- slashing and throwing one’s self into ceremonial swords in Kurt’s studio, I bet…
KARLITA: Hi Kurt!
KURT: Hi Karlita! *wave and a big grin*
KARLITA: Hey the painting looks amazing on my parents’ red wall! Have you seen it? Anyway, everyone thinks it’s great! Thanks for that!
KURT: I love the red wall, I was thinking vermillion-ish, but I didn’t expect that red, nice! The painting’s contrasting colour works well with it (I sound like an interior designer)!
KARLITA: So you did that piece (Rehashing Rancid Rhetoric) in 2007 and I distinctly remember seeing a few small pieces at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) around that same time… or I think it was in 2006… anyway, when exactly did you start painting?
KURT: Yep, I made that work for a gallery show in Makati (Philippines) in 2007… And yes, those small pieces at the CCP in late 2006, I think… hahaha… I’m having a hard time remembering things now… But I knew how to draw since I was little… I started painting seriously when I was 12 years old. At that time, I didn’t think that it would eventually turn into a full- time career. It was a personal escape of sorts, but as it turned out, it gave me a place in this world. I grew into it and it has since then, become my life.
KARLITA: Even then, or, ever since then (2006-2007), there has always been a cohesive way of how your works turn out… they always come out more graphic and punchy and pop- arty, I think? Correct me if I’m wrong, of course. But have you always had this intention in mind; this direction every time you create pieces- that they should come out surreal, colourful, vibrant? Like a happier Dali of sorts?
KURT: Well, I’ve been very much influenced by graphic novels, cartoons, pop art etc. and yeah, I tend to be partial to colours (although it depends on the individual concept of each work)… all of that, I think, contribute to how I see my work flesh out. The safest way to categorize my work would be Figurative or Pluralist Art, hahaha!
I really don’t bother with what to call it, to be honest, because I tend to learn and incorporate new and old… tried and proven ideas from different sources (that’s what makes it fun)… and then I find things in unexpected sources too…
KARLITA: What was your earliest recollection of drawing and painting? What was the first thing you remember drawing?
KURT: I drew a lot when I was little… I think around 3 years old… it was a way of entertaining myself. I do remember drawing the typical “house, flowers, and family theme” that kids usually make. Also, I used to sit in front of our house in Pagadian City, drawing those big dump trucks parked along the street. And there was this one drawing of “Christ on the Cross” on a small piece of paper that my dad still keeps with him in his wallet (I hope so).
KARLITA: Do you remember what the first piece you ever sold was? What year?
KURT: Uh… I do remember how it looks… I don’t remember the title and who bought it… but I remember it was in 1998.
KARLITA: While your works may look very happy at first glance, at closer inspection (i.e. Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars, Chaos Conference, etc.), they tackle some pretty serious subject matters though… How do you come up with these themes in general? Is it different every time?
KURT: To be drawn into such subject matters is accidental mostly, just interesting ideas that cross my brain, gleaned from everyday life… and if they show promise, I try my best to polish them, make studies, mould them for the intended story to come out.
That is the general process, but it’s nice to be unorthodox too… Different approaches in making each piece of work is one key to an evolving artistic process (Hahaha! But I do, seriously, believe that). And then sometimes I just surprise myself, once the works are done.
KARLITA: Who are the artists you look up to?
KURT: Quite a few actually- Rembrandt, Salvador Dali, Phil Hale, Eric White, Travis Charest (graphic novel artist)…
KARLITA: If there’s any piece of art other people have done in the past that you wish you could’ve done your self, what work would this be?
KURT: “The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dali (fun fact: did you know he made the Chupa Chups Logo? Hahaha!)
KARLITA: I didn’t know that Kurt! Thanks! Now I can think of his curled mustachios every time I have some lollies, hahaha!
Speaking of other artists, people may or may not know this about you, but you are actually directly related to one of the Philippines’ most prolific and respected sculptors- Ms Julie Lluch (your aunt) . Has she actually given you advice and such, about your shared craft?
KURT: Yep, she’s given me advice, and I don’t know if she remembers this, but she told me once to “make something that you can call your own… something that people can see and say that is yours” and also “to try and be prolific” which admittedly I haven’t followed… but I am trying. Hahaha!
KARLITA: So I just saw one of your latest works (from 2011), called Oddities and Flightless Dreams… somehow this seems to be the most, well, dreamy of your body of work. It’s quite impressive at 3×3 feet, I would imagine. What’s this painting about and how’d you go about making it?
KURT: “Oddities and Flightless Dreams” basically talks about how a particular path, ambition, or personal calling gets shelved… or in some cases apprehension and the fear of taking risks and failure becomes a hindrance in achieving such goals… It pictures the subject being consumed by the demons that he manifested himself, but he’s still focused on trying to make it. The concept for the painting was explored way back in 2009… I did start making the painting back then! And I just finished it December 2011! Hahaha, I had to step back so I could tweak it, fix a detail here and there, and that’s what happened… Once in a while I’ll have works like that… hahaha!
KARLITA: Well we do wait with bated breath Kurt! Hahaha!
Obviously I’m really looking forward to seeing more from you, I’ve been a fan since ’06… so I personally would love to know what’s up next for you and your growing body of work… plans for this year and those to come?
KURT: Last 10th of February 2012, we just opened a group show entitled “Watermark” at Tin- Aw Art Gallery in Makati (Philippines). The theme of the show revolves around what happened last December 17, 2011, when Typhoon “Sendong” hit Iligan and Cagayan de Oro City… So the works are based on our personal experiences that tragic day. The show runs until the 22nd of February 2012…
As for future plans, as always, my answer to that would be “to succeed in what I do…” and I think, art- making has lots and lots of possibilities so… hahaha… we’ll see!
KARLITA: Thanks again for the very cool painting on my parents’ red wall… thanks for your time! More of art, creativity, and adventure for the years to come Mr Kurt Lluch! *high five!*
KURT: And thank you very much! This has been fun! *high five!*
Find Kurt’s works here… or on Facebook!
*If you would like to receive and read more letters, please feel free to subscribe. Thank you.
More letters, more love!
Photography and text by Author unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.