Isko Andrade bares his life experiences at an exhibit in Venice

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Isko Andrade
Artist Isko Andrade | Photo by JT Fernandez

The Filipino artist presents visually striking and personally meaningful work for a special exhibit in Venice



Against the backdrop of the Palazzo Mora, Filipino artists under the guidance of Derek Flores will exhibit their works this weekend in the “Personal Structures” project with the European Cultural Centre Italy.

Opening at the same time with the Venice Biennale (although independent from the festival), Filipino artists will be given the opportunity to show their works on a global stage, with artists Alfredo Esquillo, Anna Bautista, Cedrick Dela Paz, Demi Padua, Dino Gabito, Isko Andrade, Manny Garibay, Mark Andy Garcia, Marrie Saplad, Max Balatbat, Raffy Napay, and Pongbayog.

The exhibit “Textures and Interstices” stems from the complex individual experiences of the artists in the Philippine context. Aligned with the exhibit theme, Filipino artist Francis Eugene “Isko” Andrade (b. 1996) will present work inspired by his own life experiences.

Isko Andrade
An earlier work of Isko Andrade. Photo from Eskinita Art Gallery

In Andrade’s practice of creating hyperrealist paintings, he often takes inspiration from his own upbringing, with a recurring thread motif. His paintings seem to embody the literal interpretation of a “visual tapestry,” as he draws inspiration from personal source material—items from his childhood home, his grandmother’s delicate lacework, or the enduring presence of his father’s belongings. 

“’Yung tali, minsan laces, at minsan ’yung mga bagay na nasa paligid ko, ginagamit ko sila para ma-symbolize ang isang tao or isang mahalagang pangyayari sa buhay ko… Pinipili ko siya base sa gusto kong ikwento.”

“Minsan ’yung pagkalace na ginagawa ko nasa lumang bahay ng lola ko, kasi ’yung lola ko naggagantsilyo ng malaking curtina,” Andrade says. 

Other work features thread in deep red hues or images of carcasses wrapped up in ribbons. “Lumaki ako sa madugong lugar, kasi lumaki ako sa slaughterhouse. ’Yung ibang tela nag-si-symbolize siya ng buhay, dugo, na nakabalot lagi sa atin.”

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Born and raised in Bulacan, in close proximity to a slaughterhouse, Andrade suggests a past wrought with a heavy history, as he also mentions estrangement with certain family members. These personal difficulties translate into his work. 

Andrade unveils “Bandage from the Past,” a striking oil on canvas painting.  The blood-red fabric shows every detail of fraying thread while the composition suggests the artist’s exploration of memory and healing through the metaphorical imagery of bandages, as Andrade comes to terms with scars of the past.

“Kaya siya bandage from the past, kasi ’yun ’yung mga bagay na nasa nangyari sa atin noon, at hanggang ngayon daladala pa rin natin.”

Isko Andrade
Andrade’s work for the special exhibit: “Bandage from the Past” oil on canvas 60 x 48 in. 2024

“Visually ’yung idea at ’yung consepto na ginawa ko, sarili kong karanasan, pag gusto ko makwento. Tinitingin ko kung makakarelate ang tao, parang kung makita nila na ganun ’yung ginawa ko, alam nila ang kwento base sa title o sa pagkausap. O paghindi nila ako nakausap–makaiwan sila ng tanong kung bakit ganun ’yung piyesa ko?”

With a string of accolades, including being a semifinalist in the 2016 Metrobank Art and Design Excellence and participating in the Shell Art competition from 2014 to 2016, Andrade stands as a promising, young artist. 

While skillful in perfecting his photorealistic technique, what sets the artist apart is his ability to portray unconventional themes within a singular object, often intertwining disparate elements.

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This distinctive approach hints at deeper symbolisms beyond the surface, inviting viewers to delve into layers of meaning and interpretation and discover just what it means for them.

The vernissage will take place on Apr. 18 and 19, 2024 at Salon 219 in the Palazzo Mora in Venice, Italy. Public opening will start on Apr. 20, 2024 until Nov. 24, 2024.


Special thanks to Derek Flores and Portia Placino.

Photography by JT Fernandez

Video by Mikey Yabut and Claire Salonga

Production assistance by Martin Agustin

Produced by Ria Prieto

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