Interview: Joel Ferraris

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Joel Ferraris, a prominent Hong Kong-Filipino artist, has an ongoing live painting project at tiny gallery Sera Sene as part of the Third Philippine Art Festival. He talks to Clare Morin about religion, art and life

For the month of June this tiny gallery has become your temporary studio?
Yes, I’ve been here since June 3.

And you’re painting the outlines of people who walk in?
Yes, although I don’t really expect people will come and I cannot expect that they will agree to be painted. Yesterday there was this very controversial guy from the Philippines, the “Running Priest” Father Robert Reyes. He’s an activist priest. He was jailed lasted November. 

Is he in your painting?
Yes. I asked him to pose. He’s doing the lotus position.

What’s the idea behind this work?
There are many ideas. When I began, it was a blank canvas. It’s in a black gallery, but it’s a white canvas, it’s just like you’re born in a world full of problems. You’re still very young, innocent; your life is very clean. You’re like an angel, straight from heaven. But you’re born in the world in a black environment. When I started painting objects around the people, it’s like in life you grow up and accumulate lots of things. You start to love riches, love money, and that’s where evil comes in. As you grow older, your life becomes complicated. 

Will you be exhibiting this painting as part of your family exhibition in July?
No. I have very different styles; I am not comfortable with doing the same style all the time. That is a family show. There are five of us, I have three brothers and a sister, the rest are the kids and the wives of my brothers. The reason for that exhibition is to explore the mystery, if art is in the family does it influence other members? Is it in the blood or is it acquired? I know the ups and downs; I know the problems, the failures of other artists. Some of their lives are not good, maybe they don’t have a direction, and they’re making art as an outlet for their depression. They struggle, go into drugs, have women outside marriage. To me, I don’t know if my children will really become artists, but at least I’m here, I can warn them. I am Christian, so I teach my children from the Bible.

You seem to be a very active artist and your work is very varied, how many blogs do you have?
I have seven. Being an artist is not about making money. Why should a person go into such a thing where they will only suffer? You’re not sure if you’ll sell, people say you’re crazy... I think it’s more about inspiring others. Now, can I paint your shadow?

 

 “It Runs In the Blood” is showing from July 4-31 at Sara Sene Gallery, 5A Winner Bldg, Lan Kwai Fong. Check out http://ferrarisart.blogspot.com.

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