Young artist's painting unveiled on UK billboards

by Patrick Camara Ropeta, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at May 03 2012 10:14 AM | Updated as of May 03 2012 08:39 PM

LONDON - A painting by a young Filipino artist from The Netherlands has been unveiled on billboards in England after winning an international art competition.

Antonio Perez, a high school student based in Amstelveen, was among the winners of the ‘Who Are You?’ competition hosted by the Arts University College at Bournemouth (AUCB) and JCDecaux.

The 17-year-old aspiring artist visited the UK to view his winning artwork on giant billboards, and attended the exhibition launch of the Top 10 winning entries at the AUCB Gallery in southwest England.

“Winning the competition is overwhelming. It makes me feel speechless, especially after I saw my art on billboards. I had nothing to say. I was just struck and shocked at the same time. It’s a great opportunity for me, and it’s a once in a lifetime thing,” said Perez, whose winning entry was inspired by pop art.

“Before I did the piece, I looked at different artists, and the one that caught my eye was Roy Lichtenstein, who is a pop artist. I saw one of his pieces and that’s where I got the inspiration from. I also wanted a comic feel to my piece.”

Beyond its bold colors and daring style, Perez’s work caught the attention of judges and viewers due to its passionate patriotic theme.

“Most of the feedback is about it being different, because every other piece were about themselves while mine is about my country. I really wanted to express ‘me’ with my country too," he explained.

“I had nine other pieces before, and I asked myself ‘Who am I?’ I thought about expressing myself as busy, or even flying, because I would like to fly, but then it hit me - what about the Philippines? If I want to express myself, I should also express every other Filipino in the world.”

Perez is studying art, math, English, Japanese and IT at the International School of Amsterdam in The Netherlands, where his parents currently live due to work commitments. Originally from Pasig and Davao in the Philippines, the family lived in Singapore before moving to Europe in 2010.

“Everyone at school was commenting about my painting and the competition. They were telling me it was great, even people I didn’t know. It shocked me how technology can simply mass communicate,” he recalled.

“Who Are You?” is an international art competition providing a platform for upcoming young artists chosen by a panel of judges from the creative industries. Twenty five entries are selected and entered into a public vote on social networking site Facebook, where 10 winners will emerge to join an art exhibit at the AUCB Gallery and on billboards across England.

“The biggest platform we can think of for artists, designers, and photographers as a 48 sheet billboard. It’s a medium I love coming from advertising, and it’s very traditional, but it’s very impactful. It’s part of our lives whether we like it or not,” explained Simon Pride from AUCB, organizers of the competition.

“We mixed it with online, because that’s where young people are living and communicating. With this campaign, we’ve brought the two things together. We created a community and project online, but the end result of it was the posters we’re seeing now.”

Winning entries from the competition, including Perez’s work, was exhibited on billboards in Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Brighton, Guildford, Oxford, Bath, Bristol and Exeter.