Art In Uncertain Times: Louie Cordero Reports from the Philippines
"It was in January when Taal Volcano near Mt. Maculot erupted," Louie Cordero reports from the Philippines on a whole new level of crippling complexity surrounding "After the eruption, we had to deal with minor earthquakes and volcanic ashfall and were afraid the volcano might erupt again, but this time, it would be bigger and more catastrophic. Good thing the volcanic activity quieted down and we all had a chance to sleep well without worry. Then just a month after that, the pandemic started."
As we continue to check in around the world with our friends, it was great to hear from Louie Cordero, an artist we've been following since 2012 and last featured back in 2017. "After many years of living and working in an urban chaotic landscape called Metro Manila, I recently migrated to the countryside," Cordero wrote us from his new base beside a sacred mountain called Mt. Maculot in Batangas, Philippines. During the big move, the artist and community around him were strongly affected by the big volcanic eruption, and shortly after, started experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic.
"I had to rush with transferring my stuff from my old studio because most of the cities in Metro Manila were going into total lockdown," he tells us about the bad timing for the move. "I brought a few paints, papers, books and small canvases." In his work, Cordero is known to be uniquely mixing the influence of his country's cultural heritage, along with referencing the current social situation filled with violence, as well as western imported punk/skateboarding/comic visuals. This mixture creates a peculiar blend of visuals which are then seamlessly blended using a consistent visual language and distinctive rendering technique.
"At first I couldn’t work, maybe because of the new space and environment," the artist explains how the situation affected his supposed "fresh start". "Most of the time I was afraid of going to work because I was busy worrying about what will happen. I was thinking - the whole frickin world is in deep shit. Then I realized one morning that instead of worrying, I just needed to move and do something. I was inspired by my neighbor who is also a painter - she was giving away most of her vegetable produce from her farm to the community here and that gave me a push to do my part to help in this crisis. So, I thought of doing a project and selling small works for 30 days via Instagram. I basically worked everyday (it takes me 1-2 days per piece), and all sales were donated to purchase personal protective equipment for the frontliners fighting the virus and sacks of rice for the less fortunate.
"This gave me a purpose to work, amidst the uncertainty of what will happen to us. Maybe, in the future everybody will farm their own food, everybody will wear face masks every day, or there will be a certain time window or certain days that people can go outside to buy food. The new normal might be thermometers beaming up your forehead everywhere you go. In this uncertainty, nature has taught me that it just takes some time to rest and heal oneself and people need to adapt to this. Peace."