No matter how much time has passed, the pain of losing someone doesn’t really go away. Whenever something reminds us of them, the pain would return and a certain sense of longing would envelop the heart.
Unbearable pain can sometimes incapacitate a person. But grief, like love, can also be a good motivator when it is channeled the right way.
And self-taught artist Spencer Ozo did just that. He channeled his grief from losing his family members during the pandemic. His art became his inspirational and emotional support during his darkest moment.
He, in his own way, represents the many artists who struggled and endured during the trying time.
“Artists usually find their artistic philosophy through life-changing experiences. For Spencer, the untimely demise of his father, his mother, his brother, and his uncle during the pandemic – the unfortunate successive losses provided the impetus for his art and has developed his philosophy,” shared exhibit curator Nestor Jardin.
He first met the budding artist through the prodding of Zeny Iglesias, the marketing and communication consultant of Conrad Manila, two years ago before the pandemic happened.
Iglesias approached Jardin and told him about the assistant front office manager who paints. She asked if the former CCP president would consider the young artist to be part of the future exhibit of Gallery C.
On their first meeting, Ozo brought about five artworks. “I looked at them and told myself that he wasn’t ready. I advised Spencer to work on his focus, on his subject, as well as his brushstrokes and color palette. I told him to continue painting,” said Jardin.
And while everything was in lockdown, Ozo made use of the past two years to hone his skills. What Ozo lacks in formal education and training in fine arts, he compensated with his immeasurable passion for the arts and admirable strength to survive whatever life throws at him.
With the pandemic, the exhibition schedule of Gallery C had to be changed. Jardin has forgotten about Ozo until Iglesias reminded him about the young artist.
He revisited Ozo’s artworks and was pleasantly surprised at how much the artist has improved.
“He started to find his focus. His brushstroke and palette have improved, as well as the texture of his paintings. The lockdown did wonders for him, in the pursuit of his arts,” said Jardin.
The exhibit, entitled positive | negative, opened on April 5, a significant date for Ozo. It was the birth date of his late mother.
On display until June 11, the exhibit features 24 artworks by Ozo, which he created during the pandemic. It is a visual narrative of how an emerging artist makes sense of a world seemingly out of balance.
“Positive and negative. Yin and Yang. Dark and light. They represent the extremes of realities. The pandemic brings hardships and sufferings, but it brings a realization on the important matters in our lives – family, health, love, and life,” said Ozo.
Born and raised in Baguio City, his art has hints of the varied nature and culture of the region. However, the dramatic and life-changing turn of events in his life greatly influenced his creative output and style.
He works with acrylic paint and mixed media creating figurative and abstract works that depict human figures, animals, flowers, and nature against backgrounds of various moods and emotions.
His style is unpredictable but always eye-catching, with playful use of colors and shapes. Gold and white bar define his works, symbolizing prosperity, purity, and balance.
“Spencer emerged into a talented prolific artist while dedicating his full-time service as an assistant front office manager at Conrad Manila. This art discovery period for Spencer during the pandemic proved that artists bring comfort to people, unite people, and inspire people. He represents modern artistry that relates very closely with guests and loyal patrons who share the intimate reflections of the artists who have thrived through the challenges,” said Conrad Manila general manager Linda Pecoraro.
The past two years have been hard for everyone. We have struggled to survive. While some have continued to carry on, others have suffered losses.
Each of us has different ways of coping. To some, art provides a safe place to heal.
As Jardin puts it, “Through this exhibit, let us see the positive aspects of life despite the negative experiences that we have experienced during the past years.”