BOKETTO: Losing One’s Own Self in a Distance | Joel Mahilum

Boketto [ぼけっと]
[jap.] the act of gazing vacantly into the distance, without thinking

Joel Mahilum’s artistic journey is paved with many opposites: at one point, he stood right by his father’s artistic inclinations; the next, he was searching for new ground. His conservative side played against breaking free. Joel then realized his place would be somewhere in the middle – in between the thesis and antithesis – to the synthesis of his artistic lineage and his reckoning.

Joel likens his creations to the Japanese word, boketto – a word that does not have any equivalent in English, but otherwise real and strongly felt. It is “losing one’s self to the distance”, a way of letting go of many burdens and looking on without worry. Joel would mirror the same carefree, unassuming, and unencumbered prose in his works. He believed that as an artist, the search for solidarity does not have to be hurried, but contemplated upon – a continuous dialectic with the self.

The “gaze” he applies on his subjects, a slightly skewed top angle, lends to a voyeuristic, detached sort of appreciation. Joel wanted viewers to experience boketto for themselves when they look on at his works. His choice of subjects is not incidental; he portrayed adolescent children and captured their innocence in varying states of rest or play.

Boketto is Joel’s second art exhibition with Art Circle Gallery; this time, it’s a look back at many of his celebrated and commissioned paintings and portraitures. Among the pieces are from some of the influential families and personalities in the country: Congressman Sandy Ocampo, Raymond Alphonso, and the Villanueva Family, to name a few.

The experience will be akin to stepping inside a picture book, a journey showing Joel’s visual and artistic narrative in the best way he can tell it.