Annie Cabigting on paper
This is the third of a five-part series detailing the artworks on the five covers of our special all-illustrated issue. Check out the rest of the features: Blic, Gary-Ross Pastrana, Derek Tumala, Carlo Vergara.
When we decided to put the work of five different artists on our variant covers, ANNIE CABIGTING was the very first one we agreed on. It wasn’t because Cabigting is among the hottest names working in the art scene today (though she is), nor even because most of us in Esquire are fans (we are), but because she is best known for creating work that is a reflexive questioning of the nature of art itself.
The series from which our cover comes from is part of an upcoming show in Singapore called Paper Matters, which features work that revolves around this most essential of art materials. Though Cabigting first considered drawing on paper, she eventually ended up thinking about her work on paper: “It is about the materials I use indirectly in making a painting—like the books and notebooks I doodled on, printed photographs or images wherever I could gather them from that made-up repository of painting references. I actually have a whole pile of envelopes full of photos accumulated since my first solo show, and a tissue paper I used and reused for wiping paint off my brush. It makes sense at this point in my career to make these paper(s) as the subject of my work,” she says in her artist statement.
We caught up with the elusive Cabigting online to have her answer a few questions for us:
ESQUIRE: The piece we featured on our cover is a work in progress. How will the finished piece be different?
ANNIE CABIGTING: This piece, the background will be much much darker.
This is part of a show that's dedicated to work about paper. What's the fascination with paper?
AC: The idea was originally proposed to me by Pam Yan and John Santos for a show to be done in Singapore for Rhouling. We all originally planned to make work on paper, and I was thinking I could make drawings on paper. While looking for studies and thinking about what to do it dawned on me that why not make the subject about "paper," not literally make work on paper. I chose the paper I often use to make a painting—my books and notebooks for research and note-taking, the photograph studies I've compiled over the period of ten years, and the tissue paper I use and reuse to clean my brushes.
So when I spoke to Rhouling I proposed to her (with fingers crossed) that I would like to do paintings on canvas and my subject will be paper. It's still technically work on paper I said to her. I was so relieved she said yes.
The artists [part of the show] Geraldine Javier, Pam Yan, John Santos Jr., and Ling Quisumbing have really out-of-the-box thinking / conceptual take in their pieces for the show. The show turned out really interesting because it's not just your traditional idea of works on paper. I'm very excited to see it all hang in the gallery. And at the opening on October 27.
How difficult was it to render paper as a subject rather than use it as a medium?
AC: (laughs) Easier for me; I'm a painter. I would not be as confident with a pencil. I have to "sharpen" that.
What else are you working on now?
AC: After a few weeks' break, I will be preparing for ART Fair Philippines 2017, [which will be on] February 16 to 19, 2017.
What are the most difficult, most enjoyable parts of your artistic process?
AC: For me, the most enjoyable and difficult is the thinking process, the work is really in thinking of what to do. I've been very introspective this about my work this year—[for this show] I was looking at work literally closer to home in my own studio, things that surround me that are part of the process of making a work. I used as a subject a mound of discarded paint from my palette that I'd also been collecting over the years; a work for Art Fair Philippines 2016 and a group show in Finale; a collection of books and notebooks; a collection of ten years of photograph studies; and collected tissue paper. If you look at them all together, including the Philippine Art Fair work, they are like layers of history, leaves of time documented in oil and canvas.