Jared Yokte: Paint Thy Neighbor


Somewhere in a quiet nook in Tarlac, a thriving communal existence is being depicted on canvas after canvas by a very observant neighbor named Jared Yokte. Barely a year there, having decided to raise his family away from the hustle and bustle of city life, the remarkable result came in the form of some 20 paintings that comprise his first solo show mythically entitled Mabulaklaking Angkan.

He may have chosen the easiest of subjects yet Jared has rendered them in his distinct in fact very tedious visual style. His ethereal characters may have been disguised as myths only to hide their peculiar personalities and yes, identities. Collectively called Agda like an ongoing play set on stage, they all somewhat perform profusely, dimly-lighted on each featured panel. Even in the starkness of their moods, what should have been concealed has become brightly translucent. 

Mabulaklaking Angkan, 2013. Oil on Canvas

Obviously the main piece and from which the title of the show emanates is this 8 feet by 6 feet Mabulaklaking Angkan which like a welcoming door greeting the viewer as one enters Olive Creek Gallery. Its imposing magnificence shouts the futility of what we do and why we do things that matter. Trapped in their own quagmire, his subjects, pointlessly, restlessly ride the bicycle for the mere hang of it, unknowing of their destinations. Worse, some would even fall off this senseless carousel. Some would even hang on for desperate survival on its peripheries, only to be taken away without purpose. Jared wonders how have we come to this? What instances have led people to inhabit the city, to work our selves to death not even knowing what drives the soul out of us. And this cycle unrelentingly repeats through generations after generations. Replicated by education breeding the same children, only to be part of this same exercise of drudgery.  

Sumpaan, 2013. Oil on Canvas

 Upon seeing his works done in this peculiar brushstroke, intermittently one’s phobia of meeting these sort of hairy domestic creatures was eventually set aside, paving the way for their invitation to watch, neighbors or not, collector or not, promdisand affluent art enthusiasts in the metropolis. Like every promising contemporary artist of his generation, Jared explains his works are mostly autobiographical in narrative and interrelated with one another. Like comic strips these could form one simultaneous reality. They speak generally about the Filipino family. He adds: Ang pamilyang Pilipino hindi lamang nasusukat sa pagsasabi ng po at opo, pagmamano, pagbati at iba pa. Ang kanyang karakter ay kadalasan nasasaksihan sa pakikisalamuha natin sa araw araw. Mga karakter na totoong nangyayari na binibigyan ko ng komplikadong pananaw. Ang kwento ng bawat obra ay magkakaugnay.

His paintings are manifestations of his constant experiments: I love to experiment different media. My painting session always starts with experiment while serving as my appetite before my real artwork. I find my style very intriguing and mysterious although I would like to think less emotional.

At 27 and very much in love to Elle, his fellow artist-partner, Sumpaan is also proof of his being down-to-earth romantic. With common interest in the arts, they both found love in the city but he fulfilled his promise to leave Manila and raise their family in her hometown of Tarlac. Not to be downright serious, humor is typical of Jared. As shown in a sideshow in Sumpaan street dogs are more than physically engaged than the lovers in the foreground who have become willing voyeurs in the half drawn curtain.

Teleserye, 2013. Oil on Canvas

Another favored piece is Teleserye. This most uneventful activity of watching TV could be the most attractive rendering for us. Teleserye speaks of the kind of life-within-a-life Jared has led these past months, being domesticated while being a faithful chronicler in his neighborhood. Here he documents those long hours his and every household neighbor dedicates in front of the screen, like clockwork simultaneously tuning in front of the boob tube. As Jared has his canvases to fill up to earn their daily bread, he is also slowly being taken away by whatever predictable plot with its manipulative technicolors. He could not escape himself as he is also framed his own tempting sordid existence. 

 Nothing is sacred to Jared not even his irreverent grandmother in her bright colored dress such as in Materyalistik Kong Lola. Unable to stand her unusual tactics and, as the title suggest, materialist ways, she is now immortalized and is now probably owned by a collector who thought money may not be necessary the root of all evil. Interesting how flowers figure in Jared’s background, no matter how overpowering it is to over all layout of his image. 
Having known the artist since his student days in University of Northern Philippines, Jared is a deeply spiritual and even philosophical person who interpreted Biblical scenes in his early works. His sense of perfection is disquieting, a rigorous process similar to a trained athlete. He paints every single day, no ifs and buts, like a biological need to express. 

Most of the interiors in the paintings were culled from memory. Ever the observer, he paints his floors and walls as they became familiar him: here’s the old house in Davao, or the dormitory in Vigan and lately from their own abode in Tarlac. Evoking both meaning and sentimentality, the private spaces form another layer to his rich narrative. One can only imagine the complex interplay of emotions in each of his pieces typifying the migrant contemporary artist who grew up, educated in, and is now based on many non-permanent locations. Making the paintings even more valuable, with more distance covered to which they have point-by-point reminisced and emanated.    

Although he did admire some old masters during his college years, he claims he doesn’t have influences of late. He adds: I just try to open my mind about the art of today but I don’t like going any art exhibitions. Nakakaapekto sa mabuting epekto yung malayo ako sa art scene. Una, mas marami akong nagagawang pyesa dahil sa environment. Pangalawa, malapit ako sa pamilya ko na pinaghuhugutan ko ng inspirasyon. Pangatlo, life in province is very simple and stress less. I want to work on large scale works this time. 

Mabulaklaking Angkan was Jared Yokte’s first solo exhibition held at the Olive Creek Gallery last December 2103.