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Mark Andy finds happiness in painting

For Mark Andy Garcia, art is very personal. He describes it as his lifestyle that he can relate to everything that he does — the mundane and otherwise — and his journey in life. As he matures, so does his art.

He recounted his early years as a painter when his works would reveal his experiences. For instance, his first solo exhibition, “So Near Yet So Far,” at the West Gallery in 2008 narrated the story of his life and spiritual journey when he was a migrant worker in Saudi. Garcia has already done a lot of solo and group exhibitions here and abroad, including in Singapore, Italy, and Indonesia.

Eventually, his paintings began to be less representational.

“I used to paint my experiences. But now, it’s not as direct as it used to be. Now I just paint the belief, the emotion, the feeling. It’s on the boundary of abstraction,” says Garcia as he describes the evolution of his art.

Garcia started painting when he was in college. When he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts major in Advertising from the Technological University of the Philippines in Manila, he couldn’t pursue his passion yet. He had to help support his family, so he took on a job in an advertising agency, then became an overseas Filipino worker. When he came back to the country, that was when he decided to become a fulltime artist.

It was liberating for him to finally be able to do what he truly loves.

“I told myself, at last, I can finally do it. At that time, the galleries didn’t pay attention to us yet, but I was happy as long as I could paint. Yes, there was no money yet, but we could do well because we strived to bring out the best in ourselves,” he shares.

Being able to paint, having his works included in exhibitions, and knowing that people appreciate his art already made him happy. And although it was a struggle for new artists to find galleries that would take them in and collectors who would buy their work, Garcia realized there is a greater struggle once an artist starts making a name for himself — balancing art and profit.

How do you keep the integrity of your art while earning from it? It’s a challenge most artists face. Art is a profession and therefore normal to profit from it. But each work is part of an artist, he has an imprint on it. The artist’s talent, the message that he wishes to impart through his works are the very reasons that an artist is able to speak to his audience.

But when an artist starts to get known, Garcia said,collectors begin looking for him and start to dictate on his work. Eventually, it reflects on the artist and his art. And if he can no longer balance art and money, it could spell the end for his career. This is what Garcia is very careful about.

“I’m okay if only a few people understand my art, at least I know they really want it. Because there are those who only like it because someone they know likes it, nakikigaya lang,” he says bluntly.

He is the recipient of many awards, including the Grand Prize for the 2007 Metrobank Art and Design Excellence National Art Competition (oil painting category), and the Juror’s Choice Award of Excellence at the 2008 Philippine Art Awards. He is also a recipient of the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Thirteen Artists Award in 2015, and the Metrobank Foundation’s Award for Continuing Excellence and Service (ACES) for Visual Arts in 2019.

Garcia, whose medium of choice is oil because it gives him the color and texture he wants, is just happy that he is able to paint.

He advises young artists to just do what they want to do: Eventually, you will realize which is wrong and right. If it’s wrong, change it; if it’s right, continue to improve on it.

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