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Ernesto Artillo Beyond Photography and Collage

There is a sense of liberation that infiltrates the way one breaks and remakes an object or imagery. Not that the item and picture have already been molded to their full potential, but having the ability and freedom to sculpt them with a personal vision and agenda infuses originality and, above all, summons identity to work. Such a philosophy has intertwined with how Ernesto Artillo views collage-making and photography in his artistic pursuit. His styles move beyond the realms of treating them as mediums, but have become an arena where he kindles the doctrines of life, love, culture his self, body, and mind adopt.

With time, I understood that collage and photography are more than just kinds of media. They mean to break and rebuild something in a creative and original way. You can make them with paper, with love, with your beliefs, and, most importantly, with your own identity. To break and remake is one of the best ways to get closer to freedom.

Ernesto-Artillo-Laocoonte
Laocoonte

I like to think of bodies as the wrapper of our identity and art as an opportunity to deconstruct them and question our individuality.

Artillo’s craftsmanship in art creates three divisions: collage, photography, and theater. In his earlier works, collage helmed his anthology. The fragrance of questioning and discovering one’s identity, spearheaded by the smudges of facial features and pieced puzzles of limbs, wafted onto his canvases. Laocoonte, for instance, comprises muscled arms and torso that are bent and patched together to breach the frame and imagery. Shades of white dabble the skin’s color while the latching arms and hands almost morph into an oblong, a depiction of a wheel of fortune and how the world goes around for mankind to conquer their identities.

The entrance of Suelo acts the same in tenet while it differs in presentation. The horizontal orientation embodies a figure that lies down on the ceramic-tiled cold floor, surrendering to the restrictions of traditions the world has imposed on one’s cultural and national identity. The interconnecting broken arms and limbs lock onto each other’s grasp, disrupted with the nuance of tight leggings and shorts in red, blue, and white, concocting a cocoon where one may rest to recharge and find the strength to fight again

Ernesto-Artillo-suelo
Suelo

Within the sphere of this style, Artillo employs the use of bodies, cutting them up before reworking each part to straddle with individualism. “I like to think of bodies as the wrapper of our identity and art as an opportunity to deconstruct them and question our individuality. Creating images with nudes, for example, is a way to talk about our need to be a part of a community, showing that breaking up with others is the worst we can do as a society.”

The opulence of nudity glides through the artistry of Artillo, amplifying his advocacy of belonging. An affinity for a place or a situation, a soul found in the most desperate period, a sense of safety in the nook of someone’s house, an instant settlement in the company of others, or a wanderer wandering to embrace wanderlust – whatever the situation, whoever the company, wherever the location may be, each has their definition of home.

In Artillo’s sacred ground, home echoes through distorted human forms, a mosaic patched with a model posing for a photograph while their stretched limbs and arms snake around their body; or a full-body shot where the true image of the person houses a variety of brown, black, and white shades to form their own skin. The wistful escapism from the previous identity creates a deep sense of grounding – the novelty of self finally unraveling. 

Creating images with nudes, for example, is a way to talk about our need to be a part of a community, showing that breaking up with others is the worst we can do as a society.

Ernesto-Artillo-human
Human
Ernesto-Artillo-feminización
Feminización
Ernesto-Artillo-el-espacio
El espacio y el placer
Ernesto-Artillo-el-espacio-two
El espacio y el placer

The thrill of crossing the bridges towards artistic freedom sounds captivating, rapturing one’s heart to gain enough courage to pursue the risk and find what they are searching for, yet an endless voyage to such indulgence may drain one’s creative fuel, pushing them to spiral down into a dead end. If such a creative block happens, Artillo finds his solace in silence.

Only in silence can I hear and see something new. Then, questions come through, and so I start writing to find out what I want to investigate. Finally, I decide what discipline suits it best.” Grounded with this ethos, he builds up his projects through mixed media, anchoring his ruminations to guide him how to resonate with his art.

Amidst the fountain of interpretation on how the ethics of Artillo function and who the artist is behind the lens and works of glossy magazine paper, his hundreds of layers await to be peeled, a gateway to uncover the finer details that make up his wholeness. Such individual nuances may be afforded as one continues to go through his works beyond photography and collage. With video performances and self-representations, Artillo confessed his faith, advocacies, and creed.

Only in silence can I hear and see something new. Then, questions come through, and so I start writing to find out what I want to investigate. Finally, I decide what discipline suits it best.

Under the glare of the sun, a crowd strips away their clothing, leaving their naked selves visible in the eyes of the public. The gravel road punctures their feet as they walk in crossed arms, swaying gently from left to right in a tempo that syncs as one. They shoulder metal beams that connect ten rows and five columns of people. Above these pillars, a platform rests with a statue covered in cloth.

A disruption in their synchronized movement would shift the beams and tip the statue to fall sideways. Solitude cuts through the video, a representation of communion to divinity and an homage to one’s religion through a statue. This is Ensayo de Fe, a performance of Artillo to interpret and display his faith.

Ernesto-Artillo-ensayo
Ensayo de Fe
Ernesto-Artillo-ensayo-two
Ensayo de Fe

In another video, a person wearing a red sleeveless shirt walks towards a flagpole, weathering the lash of the sun’s heat in an open field with temporary shelters masked in beige cloth. Once he reaches the pole, – a tinge of grin has appeared on his lips – he raises the transparent flag made of plastic until it arrives at the top, dancing against the blow of the wind.

The view from the top as the camera pans out shows the roofs of the shelters covered in flimsy plastic, positioned in a desert-like land with no one in sight, but the actor himself – a lone immigrant in a foreign land raising the plastic flag of humanity. In Artillo’s words, “the transparent flag is called Suspiros, which is made of greenhouses’ plastics and this clip talks about humanity through immigration.”

With time, I understood that collage and photography are more than just kinds of media. They mean to break and rebuild something in a creative and original way. You can make them with paper, with love, with your beliefs, and, most importantly, with your own identity. To break and remake is one of the best ways to get closer to freedom.

After mirroring his identity in these two videos, he proceeds by hopping on a donkey’s back against the blue sky, ridges of hills, and droughtness of the land. Artillo wears a blue shirt and a blue pair of pants, rests his arms on his side, lets his feet dangle, calms the donkey as it veers off from sensing danger in the photoshoot, and hires himself to model someone getting off from the standards of success. His feet touch no ground and his head nestles in the clouds, yet his serene face evokes that the position he finds himself in today weighs nothing compared to the artistry his privilege allows him to access and use.

Ernesto-Artillo-suspiros
Suspiros
Ernesto-Artillo-Donkey
Self-portrait

In his earlier years, Artillo would juggle with commissions, moving from one project to another without resting. It might have been the engine of his creativity or his lust towards recognition and piled-up creative undertakings, but he realized value defeats quantity. He no longer hustles, but understands that life comes as the best creative project he can make and remake, turning art into a consequence rather than a purpose or service. He listens to himself and expresses what he hears inside through art without forcing it to appear, but allowing it to brew and come up instinctively.

As he turns to theater, setting aside photography and collage-making, he brings what he has learned throughout his creative tenure with him. While he still refers to his earlier works to refine what he produces today, he finds himself in a constant metamorphosis. Such phases of change expand Ernesto Artillo’s breadth, fostering his growth spiritually, mentally, and artistically.

Ernesto-Artillo-Obra
Obra
Ernesto-Artillo-Miradas
Miradas
Ernesto-Artillo-David
David
Ernesto-Artillo-Deja
Deja

Ernesto Artillo Social Media Accounts

Website | Instagram

About Author

Bio: Matthew Burgos is a zealous storyteller, an indie-folk playlist devourer, a self-proclaimed maverick, and a die-hard, 90% dark chocolate glutton. When he narrates stories, he carpets the chronicles with poetry, empathy, and humanness. For every story he jots down, he envisions delight and satisfaction to every reader’s mind. His curiosity streams when he converses with people, compiling a mountain of questions for them to answer to. It’s no wonder he yearns to write about them after the conversation.

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