Unitec Institute of Technology
Gabriel Tiongson’s work is rooted from imagery and graphic sensibility of 90s American pop culture he was exposed to during his formative years—cartoons, toys, comic books and computer games, a product of colonialism.
He best describes his process as “A cycle of producing work that feeds back into the process to digest and produce work once again. With each digestion, the gestures, marks and decisions done on the canvas add a nuance. A small mutation grows until it too becomes another gesture, mark or decision that continually adds to my repertoire. After some time, I gather these mutations and put them together... With each ingestion and excretion, the works are slowly broken down, fine-tuned, and built up each time. The excrement at the end reveals itself to be a polished version of the first ingested series of works. It is hybridizing by absorbing itself, perfectly reflecting my own hybrid identity as a Filipino growing up in a post-colonial country, the Philippines, and emigrating to another post- colonial country, New Zealand.”
Tiongson creates a kind of caricature by reducing and abbreviating pop culture imagery, the forms deconstructed to become abstract. He also uses grotesquery as a tool to cope with his loss of identity “by using the colonizers’ own tools, pop culture, for mass colonization. I am able to find some resolution by making it my own, and repositioning it back into the world. I have embraced my mental colonization in turn, it has allowed me to produce art that embodies both repulsion and adornment of my childhood.”
Coming from a family of doctors, Tiongson has a degree in physical therapy. A self-taught artist, he formally attended art school in New Zealand after doing a series of both local and international exhibitions from 2011-2014. He received his Masters degree in Painting 2017 and was the representative for the Glaister Ennor Art Awards (New Zealand) in 2018.
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