I was born with a rare genetic skin condition that causes my skin to change rapidly, manifesting with different layers and textures. As I practiced my art, I became aware of the influence of this condition, culminating in the production of art that also exhibited layers and textures as embodied by my processes and mediums — oil paints, wood grains as well as experimental, organic materials — paintings built up in layers of oil paint that incorporate natural wood grains with non-textures and textures.
Thus, my art is the product of my coming to terms with my condition, the product of a continuous process of understanding. I use art to unpack and capture different aspects of identity.
I believe that art should be uncomfortable, and though the comfort of classical painting was something that I appreciated, I realized that this comfort prevented me from growing and fulfilling my role as an artist — to expound on identity through art that is constantly evolving.
We live in trying times, and as an artist I look for explanations. Whenever I find the right questions, I explore them through the lens of my art in the hopes that it may lead us to an answer.
Mek Yambao (°1989) makes oil paintings on wood with layers and textures. She combines these elements to conceal as well as to reveal her subjects. She expounds her use of traditional media by working with organic, experimental materials in her paintings and installations.
She thinks with her art. She makes delicate yet weighted imagery using experiences in her own life. Her reflections on feminism, identity, language, and post-colonialism are most apparent in her work. Her exhibition ‘May I Have Your Attention Please’ (2017) addresses the visibility of women and going against their culturally assigned roles. In ‘Is This How You See Me?’ (2019), she examines how people curate themselves and what they allow to be seen. In this exhibit, she reflects on identity and perception.
Through her work, she seeks to embody the values of multiculturalism and continues to develop her visual language to create more immersive art. Mek Yambao lives and works in Metro Manila, Philippines.