Metal Mettle

by: Alya B. Honasan

Philippine Daily Inquirer
Sunday Inquirer Magazine
October 22, 2006

Sculptor Pete Jimenez’s medium may be heavy, but his message is anything but.

Ongoing until Oct. 31 at the Mag:net Gallery Paseo in Makati is sculptor Pete Jimenez’s third one-man show this year and his 10th since 2000, “Scrapyard,” where he showcases some 21 pieces of iron works made from his junkyard finds. That’s a lot of excursions to the junkyard in Antipolo and Fairview, where Jimenez heads on weekends to find the inspirations for his “direct sculpture,” the raw material he buys by the kilo.

“I like it because I don’t have to conceptualize anything from scratch,” he says of scrap iron. “I find a piece, and then crazy ideas come into my head.”

Thus, old metal strips that open like a flower become “Petal Attraction,” a work with recurring zeros and a hint of a number seven is called “Bond, James Bond,” and a hook with cartoonish toe-like protrusions becomes “Foot Spaa.” Fortunately, the 46-year-old University of the Philippines Fine Arts grad, who now manages a post-production house that edits TV commercials, had a whole year to prepare for his shows, having kept a low profile most of last year. With a welder assistant, he can complete a work in a weekend, since that’s his only free time from work. “I like to play,” he says. “The work I do is serious enough; you have to do what clients tell you all the time. Here, I can have complete freedom.”

Jimenez has been exercising this freedom since his college days. He dabbled in painting, even winning an Art Association of the Philippines award in 1998, but it was UP Artists Circle brod and fellow artist Rock Drilon who encouraged him to go three-dimensional. The fun is carried over to special requests; Jimenez recently made a gate for a friend’s house.

The artist gets his inspiration from the stuff he reads, the advertising industry he works in, and even the underwater world, as he’s a certified scuba diver. He also hangs out with wife Lissa, herself formerly with a production house, and two daughters. And no, he doesn’t like to use his formidable material to make serious monumental statements. As the critic Cid Reyes said of the artist, “Within a decade of dedicated and assiduous work, Jimenez has produced an impressive body of work distinguished not only for their wit and humor but also for the imaginative articulation of his core material: iron.” Says Jimenez: “I don’t like people over-analyzing my work. I want to make people happy. I like it when friends see my work on exhibit when they pass the gallery, and they text me, “You’re crazy!”

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