Belgium may be a small country, but when it comes to the arts, it looms large, high, and mighty. This country known as the capital of Europe carries a rich and illustrious artistic heritage dating back to the medieval ages and boasting some of the immortal names in art history such as Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Pieter Bruegel, and René Magritte.
The capital of Belgium nurtures one of the most dynamic art scenes in Europe. Brussels is not only home to some of the most impressive art museums in the world. It is also a nesting place for international galleries and artists. Collectors and curators are ever on the lookout for fresh talent and novelty, but competition is high and the market is hard to penetrate.
So when you hear of a Filipino getting recognition in the prestigious Belgian art world, you can’t help but swell with pride.
Racso Jugarap, wire artist in Belgium
Meet Racso Jugarap, a wire artist from the Philippines now based in Brussels. He was discovered by Belgian art collectors early this year for his groundbreaking wire creations. His interior design pieces have made it to galleries, homes, and offices in Belgium, France, and Italy, all the way to New York and California in the United States.
Racso never went to formal art school. But when he was a child, he used to play and tinker with leftover wire from his parents’ jewelry store workshop in General Santos City. Years later, he was commissioned to design interior decors for restaurants and hotels while he was still studying Hospitality Management in the university.
In 2009, Racso found work as a chef in Germany. His work brought him to different parts of Europe until he took up residence in Belgium two years ago. All those years working as a chef, Racso’s inner artist never left him alone. Last year, he finally decided to embrace his one true passion and become a full-time wire artist working from the basement of his home. For his first project, he wove wires into the shape of an ostrich egg.
A major break comes after numerous rejections
As with any success story, Racso’s started with obstacles and disappointments. He reached out to about two hundred galleries in Belgium to market his wire-made ostrich eggs only to be turned down or ignored. Those rejections only served to fuel his determination. While sending email after email to prospective galleries, he also began posting his works on social media.
It was New York that opened the door of success to Racso. As the song goes, if you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere. A home design gallery in NYC discovered his ostrich eggs online, sent an order for the wire pieces, and promoted them on social media. Soon thereafter, he started receiving invitations from various galleries in Belgium and other European countries.
Racso currently has about ten different wire creations, each with its own name and significance. His latest is called Kaya, a wall sculpture that looks like a teardrop with a central eyelet representing a portal to one’s aspirations and dreams.
Another masterpiece is Sofia, a piece resembling interconnected cocoons and symbolizing levitation and grace.
Ella is distinguished by her birdlike appearance, while Mephista, Matilda, and Raven are linked balls of wire in varying sizes, colors, and formations. Aside from home design pieces, Racso also makes wire accessories including a neck corset which will be worn by performers in this month’s Tomorrowland music festival in Belgium.
Since his first major break, Racso has managed to capture both the worlds of art and design. His babies are now showcased in several art and home design galleries in different locations in Europe and the United States. Racso’s artworks will be featured this July in a showroom open door event in the Belgian city of Kortrijk, at the Brussels Expo in August, and at Maison et Objet in Paris in September.
Racso J. shares his creative process and his source of inspiration
Oh yes, our self-made Filipino wire artist has definitely gone a long way. But he still has a long way to go, he says. Racso’s mind is burning and bubbling with new ideas, future projects, and more aspirations. He’s on a roll and there’s no telling how far this 28-year old artist will go in conquering the European world of art and design, and making the Philippines proud.
The author is a journalist and copywriter currently based in Belgium.