He drew from his formal training as graphic designer and brings these elements into canvases. Larrazabal (b. 1998, Cebu City) hints at a socio-realistic interpretation of the world around the artist, almost a narrative of the times and the subtle impacts of the youth living through these times. Almost genderless, the main characters of his stories’ faces are covered by cardboard birds, alluding to the universalness of these experiences. Juxtaposed with bold color and referenced with cartoon characters, Larrazabal’s compositions tell the story but also allow the viewer to tell his own.
Kean Larrazabal: “I am”
Curated by JT Gonzales
12 January 2023 – 26 January 2023
There is a wistful innocence that peeks, shyly, from Kean Larrazabal’s canvases. This is a child lost in play. Time has no meaning, no consequence. All there is, is the wonderful construct of make-believe, allowing escape into a Neverland of certain glee and magic. Kean renders an assured evocation of the rapt concentration of the truly absorbed, the power of belief to suspend reality, and the frantic, frenetic childhood games we all played. Kean’s child is in somewhat ragged clothing though. That detail is not quite lost. Underneath the veneer of innocence that Kean portrays are undertones of class divides, of backgrounds that may mean a deprivation of basic economic goods, of poverty, even.
It is not merely the overlarge, hand-me-down wife beater that the child has been forced to wear. It is not just the rubber slippers. The cardboard costumes that Kean bestows on his superhero wanna-be’s may have something to do with it. For the lack of expensive Lycra costumes (and the funds to either purchase or rent it), a child’s imagination, plus some discarded pieces of paper, will just have to do. Perhaps, there are also his strokes liberally applied on to his canvases. Uneven, with overlaps of color, startling bursts yet fading into gradients akin to a shiny tin of biscuits that has gone to seed in a dumpster. His recent foray into incorporating serigraphs into his oeuvre, the inserted layer amidst his normal brushwork bringing an element of newsprint or faded journals, only emphasizes this same ethos.
Kean renders an assured evocation of the rapt concentration of the truly absorbed, the power of belief to suspend reality, and the frantic, frenetic childhood games we all played.
Kean snares us between two possible realities. On one hand, there is the guilelessness of youth, of magic in every moment, of the ability of make-believe to transcend. On the other, there is the discordant note of having to make-do, of the absence of essentials, and the privations that children unknowingly suffer. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and individual perspectives allow us to color what we experience. To either sugarcoat it, or taint it. When we view Kean’s canvases, however, we are forced to waver between two world views, seeing both, sensing both, and yet, in the end, choosing only one reality. And how we choose, defines us. Kean titles his second solo exhibit “I am”. It may be apt to ask each viewer to finish the sentence.
His works have been featured, among others, at J Studio, Grey Space Gallery, Art Anton Gallery, and Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Arts. In addition to this, Larrazabal is a contributor to digital art initiatives in the Philippines. He currently lives and works in Cebu, Philippines.
Since 2013, we have participated in international art fairs including Art Kaohsiung and Art Tainan in Taiwan, Tokyo International Art Fair in Japan, Art Apart in Singapore, Visayas Art Fair, Art Fair Philippines, FIABCN in Barcelona, Art in the Park, and Art Central in Hong Kong. In addition, Qube Gallery was awarded Best Gallery for 2022 at the Fira Internacional D’ Art De Barcelona. Based in Cebu, the gallery is dedicated to advocating for its roster of emerging, mid-career and established artists selected based on aesthetic vision aligned with the gallery. The aim is to promote Filipino artists beyond local archipelagic reach and to develop an international art dialogue by featuring foreign artists who have close affinity to the Philippines.