(SPOT.ph) When 29-year-old Johanna Helmuth was starting out as a visual artist, she spent her days painting in a small studio in Biñan, Laguna. She eventually moved to a more spacious work area in Bacoor, Cavite, but still, it wasn't enough for the changing sizes and shapes of her work. Now a few weeks away from Art Fair Philippines 2022, she is on the final stretch of a mammoth undertaking as one of the much-awaited event's featured artists; and she couldn't be more thankful that she's producing her newest works in her current and bigger studio in San Juan in Manila.
For the 10th installment of the fair, Helmuth is recreating the tradition of offering prayer candles in churches using sculpted resins. Exaggerated in size and made more distinct by their colors, these objects symbolize the overarching narrative of the works: the people’s belief and reliance on the power of prayers.
"Alam mo ‘yong sa simbahan? Naalala ko pa dati kapag sobrang problemado ka mas madaming kandila tinitirik mo. Mas marami kang dasal, mas maraming alay [na kandila]," she says in an interview with SPOT.ph.
These large-scale sculptures include three paintings and are collectively called Nakasalalay sa Lakas ng Dasal.
Johanna Helmuth on scaling up the space, scaling up the artistic practice
"Six months ako doon, walang Internet, walang TV, [at] signal ang hirap pa. Ang kailangan mo lang gawin ay magpinta. Kakain ka, [ma]tutulog ka, magpipinta, ‘yon lang talaga," she narrates while recalling her experience at her studio in Laguna for her very first solo exhibition Disfigure (2016, Ayala Museum Artists’ Space).
"Noong palaki na nang palaki ang work ko, hindi na siya okay. Di ko kaya mag-paint sa bahay kasi may rules. Bawal dumihan ‘yong floor, bawal igalaw ‘yong furniture, kumbaga masisira talaga ‘yong look ng bahay kapag nag-paint ka lalo na pag malalaki. Kung nasa sarili kang space, may freedom ka to do whatever you want. Wala kang time limit," she explains.