If I were to describe to you some of Ross Jaylo’s paintings, his models’ skin torn away and discarded, muscle and sinew laid bare, the images that appear in your mind’s eye are probably rather morbid. The reality, however, is something very different. For me, never before has écorché – showing the muscles of the body without skin – been more beautiful. Through his lens, we settle into a calm dream-like world where colour as well as skin is also often omitted. Sometimes Ross Jaylo strips his models of flesh altogether, and skeletons grasp in loving embraces before our very eyes. Yet there is always beauty. A calm feeling that encapsulates your soul as you take in his tranquil blue and white colour schemes. This is, without a doubt, a gift which Ross Jaylo happily puts out into the world.
People often use them [écorché and skeletons] as symbols for death and mortality, but I use them to represent life and people in general.
When we are all stripped of vanity and the superficial beauty that we obsess over, we can see that the colour of bones underneath us are the same for all of us.
It’s hard to ignore the freshness within Ross Jaylo’s works, which blow away any darkness still lingering in your subconscious. Death may be a symbol which first comes to mind, but this is quickly overridden once you take in what is happening within each artwork. Though spanning across multiple surreal scenes, Ross also often shows love and adoration through his well-thought-out compositions.
These paintings are a far cry from the end of life; an embrace under the stars can trigger even the most cold-hearted of viewers to think back to their own passionate memories, and his visual explosions articulate the emotion of a fervent kiss as powerful as any romantic prose. Through paintings such as these, Ross Jaylo strips down our differences and allows us all to relate to his paintings, no matter our age, sex, race or culture.
Finding identity as an artist
Unsurprisingly, the 28-year-old oil painter is already making a name for himself internationally. Originally from the Philippines, Ross Jaylo now resides in New York in the USA. From his first group show at West Gallery in the Philippines in 2010, Ross has now also shown at Copro Gallery & Distinction Gallery in California, Haven Gallery in New York, Art Fair Philippines with CANVAS, and Beinart Gallery in Australia, to name a few. Ross first stepped into the world of painting via portraits, beginning his formal training in art at 12 years of age. However, while this style brought a certain amount of joy, especially when it came to painting the collectors themselves or even their children or loved ones (“It’s just more personal.” Ross shares), he felt there was something more to explore.
Consequently, Ross started experimenting with skulls and skeletons. “This subject, however, also has its own limits as well. For some, its theme is too dark, or symbolizes death in their culture, so not all audiences can enjoy it. This led me to think of something in between our individual appearances and skeletons, hence the écorché.”
But the story doesn’t end there. Settling into a style or technique which feels right isn’t suddenly the end of the journey of self-discovery. Like many artists, finding his own identity as an artist was a struggle for Ross. “Let’s face it,” he shares, “so much style and technique has already been done by millions of artists before. It is really hard to say that you have invented your own.
“Despite this, it should not be used as an excuse to stop experimenting and innovating. Not only by my use of écorché, which I try to innovate my work. I also experiment using different colours and materials too. Recently I have been doing gold, glass, and chrome skulls. When it comes to the figures, I really like the striking white colour for the muscles which gives them a futuristic look and less grotesque feel, instead of just using the real colour of our muscles.”
A multicultural lens
Art, supremely, spans time, cultures, and languages to connect with people all over the world. For me, it’s also fascinating to see how an artist can interweave their own culture and language into their visual art. The cultural differences between the Philippines and New York are rather vast. And Ross has used this experience to his advantage: “The difference in culture is immense.” he agreed.
Being able to see and experience different cultures from different countries that we visited really opened my eyes to the possibilities in life and art itself. There’s so much difference in the art style, the narrative and even techniques. Because of this, I am able to incorporate so many more elements in my work.
That said, I still want to showcase and incorporate the unique style and storytelling from my home country in my future works.
Coming from a creative family, Ross is lucky enough to also have his father, fellow artist Jon Jaylo, and his brother Rave, a videographer, by his side. Ross’ pride in their closeness shines from him like a beam. “It is a blessing to have each other. We help each other in our careers by being able to critique our works and give advice on how to improve them. We are also able to collaborate on some projects which is really fun to do.”
His father Jon was the founder of Ross’ official art education. Ross thought back to his childhood: “I learned so much from my father and I still do! But he never imposed the idea of being an artist to me. He allowed me to choose my own path. I just naturally gravitated towards it. Even when I was still little, I would find myself drawing stick figures and trees and mountains. I would obsess over them, drawing at the back of my notebooks and making comic strips with simple stories and sharing them to my classmates.”
Design, redraft, and design again
The habit of jotting down concepts or ideas continued with Ross into his adulthood, writing new thoughts and designs into his phone or notebook as they arise. From something as simple as a word to phrases, painting titles or whole themes, Ross ensures a steady flow of content to choose from. When ready, he then develops them by making multiple sketches of the idea until it blossoms into its final form.
“I do change the studies multiple times, especially right before painting it.” He admits. “There will be times when the sketch will look really good, but then when you start putting colours in, the elements lose harmony. At this time, I start looking for alternatives. Sometimes, great ideas will even come in the midst of painting it!”
With some works, the ideas come to me very easily and quick, as little as a day. But with some ideas I could be working for a year and slowly build them up to produce a worthy piece of artwork.
The turning point, and the road beyond
“The painting Vibration is really special to me.” Ross shares. “The story is so personal. It came from a heartbreak – and heartbreak really does serve as a source of inspiration and motivation, it can also cultivate creativity. This piece also served as a springboard for the new design, the leap from my previous art styles to this piece was enormous.”
The “springboard” effect, which Ross describes about Vibration is one many artists can relate to. It also creates a point of intrigue, a space where the viewer can admire a piece that marks the turning point for a creative mind. Turning to his current series, Ross is currently working on oil paintings which focus more on narrative pieces as well as tribute works for masters. “I want to recreate the stories they shared to us by using my own style and interpretation. I am very excited to share it with everyone in a year’s time.
“On that note, I would like to invite all the Beautiful Bizarre Magazine readers to see the upcoming LA Art Show in 2023. I will be exhibiting my work in partnership with Copro Gallery along with so many distinguished artists for the group show. I hope you could visit in person!”
To keep up to date with Ross Jaylo’s adventures, check out and follow his social media links below.