Martin Honasan (b.1976, Quezon City, Philippines) is a graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (Psychology and Communication Arts clusters). He worked as visual artist and art director in advertising (1999-2001), then as managing partner in his own design firm (2001-2004) prior to pursuing painting full-time. Honasan has been participating in group exhibits since 2005 at various galleries including Altromondo, Artes Orientes, Crucible Gallery, NOW Gallery, Paseo, West Gallery, Yellowdoor, Ysobel; and various art conventions such as the Art Fair Philippines and Manila Art. He has mounted three solo exhibits since 2011, most recent of which was at the Crucible Gallery.
A large part of my work is influenced by Abstract Expressionism — a movement often divided into two classifications, one of which is Action painting, where the artist’s brush, hand gestures, even the movement of his body, are evident on the canvas. Typified by the works of Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, among others, the action painter turns the canvas into “…an arena in which to act…what was to go on canvas was not a picture but an event (Harold Rosenberg, American art critic).” On the other side is Post Painterly Abstraction, a term coined by Clement Greenberg (art critic) — with artists such as Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt, or Barnett Newman; their body of works show an absence of gesture, favoring a more anonymous execution, a mood of stillness, and silence.
I’m interested in using the physical language of abstract expressionism and contain its active or static, raw, gestured energy on faces.
My background in psychology and portraiture has given me a fascination for the subtle nuances of the human face. A person’s countenance is dense with narrative detail; it punctuates, and even summarizes, the stories of the mind and body. I enjoy grafting these facial details with abstractions organically, as if the face is a continuous, natural development of the textured forms.
Sometimes the faces I paint are a result of a form of Pareidolia, a psychological phenomenon where one perceives or imagines significant visual patterns in random data. Classic examples of this are the Man in the Moon or the Moon Rabbit, seeing animals in clouds, and in some cases, even religious apparitions.
Aesthetically, I want to mimic weathering brought about by the passage of time on surfaces, such as erosion, moisture, rust, dirt, decay, or the aging of organic material such as wood or stone. Similarly, my purpose is to simulate an accumulation of disparate “events” on the surface of the canvas, applying them layer after layer until they homogenize and obscure the faces.
The layers of rough textures, wrinkles, and torn pieces of fabric on the faces are metaphors for any natural human struggle to which people tend to lose themselves: a hunger, craving, obsession, addiction — elements that distress identity. It is important that the faces rendered remain recognizable and intact; I want to convey a tension between the non-representational images and the familiar structure of the human face, to suggest a struggle gathering the fragments of ourselves together, to find unity in the diversity within. I also want to convey transience, ephemeral beauty, healing, rebirth, transcendence, hope, redemption. Recurring themes in my work address questions of origin, meaning, purpose, identity, morality, and destiny.
2005Nine Lives, Art For Space Gallery, Alabang Town Center, Alabang, Muntinlupa
200638 Years, The Saturday Group Show, SM Megamall Art Center,
Ortigas Center, Pasig
2006The Saturday Group Paints Bohol, Art Center,
Shangrila Mall, Mandaluyong City
200739 Years, The Saturday Group Show, SM Megamall Art Center,
Ortigas Center, Pasig
2007The Saturday Group Art Book Launch,
Shangri-la Plaza Mall, Dec. 15
2008Black and White,
ArtAsia Fine Art Inc. SM Mega Mall, April 2
2008Homage To Mr. Malang, The Saturday Group,
SM Megamall Art Center, Ortigas Center, Pasig
2008Red Letters, Tintero Art & Design Studio,
Q.C., June 2
2009Worlds Within: Saturday Group Anniversary Show, The Saturday Group,