"What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter, an art which could be for every mental worker, for the businessman as well as the man of letters, for example, a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue."
Those were the famous words of the great French master Henri Matisse, regarded as the greatest colorist of the 20th-century and, more importantly, the only one whom Picasso considered as his only rival. In contrast to Picasso's works, which were full of anguish, torment and suffering. Matisse presented a world of bliss and of paradisiacal pleasure, luxuriant with polyphonic colors and myriads of patterns. A world of pleasurable colors and patterns is precisely what is evoked by an exhibition at the Ayala Museum, Artist Space last February 2014.
This is the first solo show of an artist who goes by the simple appellation Dezia (promounced De-Zia, accent on the second syllable). It is the painting pseudonym of Johnny Chua, an architect by profession. Dezia combines the original family names of his parents. Intriguingly, as an architect he favors a minimalist aesthetics but as an artist. Dezia appreciates the beauty of patterns and decoration.
Where Dezia leads the eye is the rich luxuriance of a multitude of patches, enlivened by patterns and designs. Dezia is inspired by the designs in the Japanese kimono which he invests with his own polychromatic shades, ranging from the muted to the shrill. Despite their exuberance and exhilaration, Dezia corralled them into an engaging and harmonious assembly.
The entire pictorial surface seems activated with playfulness and freedom, vibrance and delight. They bloom in splendid clusters and quilt-like patches. The viewer gets the feeling that Dezia has pillaged a samurai's chest.
More importantly, the evocative permutations of shapes suggest a narrative, engaging the viewer to decipher stories. These works translate to allegories that bear life's lessons on human identity, relationships, personal crises. The scintillating titles themselves bear witness: Finding Balance, Independent Soul, At The Edge, Moon Smile, My Mentor My Friend...
It is precisely this seeming whimsically and light-hearted fervor, faintly allusive of Paul Klee, whom Dezia admires, that allows these meaningful narratives to feel like fraternal advice rather than didactic fire-and-brimstone sermons.
Like enchanting fabric collages, "The Charm of Patterns" is Dezia's personal coat of many colors, serving notice of the determined entrance into the free-for-all and cacophonous Manila art scene.
The pattern is much too clear.
About the Artist - DEZIA
J. Chua, or "Dezia" as he signs his artworks, has been an artist for more than 25 years. But where as fellow artists painted on canvas. Dezia created his works of art on the drafting board and brought them to life as three-dimensional buildings. He, in fact, is an architect, a graduate of University of Santo Tomas.
On weekends, or whenever inspiration strike, Dezia paints for his own pleasure. These paintings often ended up in the hands of friends and family, who always told him that he was good enough to pursue the craft. In fact, when he was a struggling architect at the start of his career, he was able to sell one of his large works to a major bank. To this very day, the piece still hangs at the bank's reception hall. While this should have given him the confidence to paint professionally, it was only when two well-known art collectors bought his works that gave him the push he needed.
In a process of reciprocity, his skills as an architect and a self-taught artist enrich and strengthen each other. As an architect, Dezia can give his paintings a solid sense of space and unity of design while as a painter, Architect Chua can visualize his building designs as aesthetically eye-appealing structures. Moreover, despite his busy career as an architect, Architect Chua has always given time and space for his paintings, and that is when "Dezia" takes command and control over his brushes and paints.
His strengths lie in geometric figures, color, symmetry and composition-principles that are deeply rooted in architecture. His works follow the rudiments of solid design, built on the principle of opposition: light and dark, constricted and open space, and the tension that ensues between. Whether as an architect or as an painter, both of his creations are a visual feast to his audience and are awaited by his clients and collectors.