Artist Interview: Indy Paredes of Gravity Art Space
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Everything Falls Into Place for Gallery-Slash-Speakeasy Owner Indy Paredes

The artist-run space is fast becoming a go-to spot in Quezon City.

by James Tana
May 27, 2022

(SPOT.ph) In 2014, while finishing an art residency at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France, the only Filipino fellow Indy Paredes found himself struggling to find a place—literally and figuratively—to reside in and hone his artistic practice. Unknowingly, this seemingly recurring struggle for inhabiting and occupying different spaces has eventually paved the way towards an unexpected but fateful path of opening his very own art gallery in 2021 called the Gravity Art Space in Diliman, Quezon City.

indy paredes profile
PHOTO BY Jilson Tiu

Indy Paredes: From Precision and Self-Restraint to Spontaneity and Indefiniteness

“Key strength ko kasi noong bata pa lang is mathematician ako. As in I compete for the country, from elementary to high school…[S]pace, time, lahat ‘yan, guided by proportions. So noong nagpe-painting na ako, pinakamalaking ambag no’n [is mathematical knowledge] sa composition,” explains Paredes as to how his paintings back then reflect a worldview that is defined, precise, and calculated.

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His perspective was challenged when Cameroonian visual artist Pascale Marthine Tayou took Paredes as a mentee during the residency. Tayou instructed him to roam around the streets of Paris, observe his surroundings, and draw using his left hand. Paredes recalls Tayou saying to him: “You’re too young to be safe. Lahat ng lines mo diretso, lahat ng lines tina-try mong maging pino. ‘Yong left hand mo di ba di mo kaya kontrolin, huwag mo buburahin pag nagkamali ka. I want all the mistakes [to] be part of your work. Kasi that’s you.”

indy paredes profile
PHOTO BY Jilson Tiu

Understanding the essence of the drawing exercise, Paredes realized that he had to unlearn the things he already knew in order to actually broaden his frame of mind.

"'Yong spontaneity dapat mag-flow. Kung anong meron ako, ‘yon dapat… Pagdating mo doon lahat ng dala mo bitawan mo. Ibigay mo lahat. Kailangan ko siyang bitawan [lahat ng alam ko] kasi kung hindi para kang nagpe-paint na sobrang lapit sa canvas," he adds.

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True enough, Paredes allowed himself to be more spontaneous while immersing himself in a foreign environment and trying to find semblance in things that interest him through built architectures and the creation of spaces. Afterwards, he experimented with various materials beyond paint and started dabbling in structural installations.

PHOTO: Jilson Tiu

Physical Space as a Big Canvas, Installation and Construction as Painting

Greatly influenced by how structures, infrastructures, and spacesor the lack of—are occupied, Paredes constructed enclosures made of discarded materials to depict and critique the texture of urbanity. In a homecoming presentation Intravasion, Intervasion, Invasion (2015) at the old 1335Mabini in Ermita, Manila, he speculated on concepts of public and private spheres in relation to alienation. Paredes, who also served as an exhibition coordinator for two years, was one of the represented artists during the prime years of the Manila gallery under the serious guidance of its previous owner Birgit Zimmermann. The gallery has since transitioned to new management and became a full-blown commercial art and lifestyle store in 2021.

indy paredes art gravity
Intravasion, Intervasion, Invasion (2015, 1335 Mabini) 
PHOTO BY Courtesy of Indy Paredes
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Recreating shanties inside the gallery space where he stayed for a week and another one outside along the street of Manila, Paredes speculated on the concepts of private and public spheres. Through the works, he responded to the question "'Yong gallery ba, private ba siya or public?" He goes on saying, "Dapat may interaction ‘yong dalawang spaces. Ang house kasi, home or enclosure, they somehow see it as a private space. Pero what if it’s in a public space?”

indy paredes
Intravasion, Intervasion, Invasion (2015, 1335 Mabini)
PHOTO Courtesy of Indy Paredes

The visual and conceptual exploration of space continued in his solo show Endings are Beginnings of Pendings (2016, 1335Mabini), but this time, his installation revolved around the idea of expansion and the particular phenomena in Filipino houses. He observed that ordinary homes expand vertically by adding another floor to their rooftop, especially as the family keeps getting bigger. The installation speaks of Filipino ingenuity but also exposes socio-cultural conditions due to the scarcity of land area.

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Endings are Beginnings of Pendings (2016, 1335Mabini)
PHOTO Courtesy of Indy Paredes

When asked if he will go back to painting, Paredes states with certainty, "Ako, babalik ako sa painting. Kasi love ko talaga [is] painting. I mean, kung di ako nagpinta, di naman ako magiging artist." This is the premise behind his upcoming solo Symbiotic on June 3 at Gravity Art Space (GAS), which features pyramid structures surrounded by painting works—a show that conveys the transformation of his practice and outlook throughout the years.

"Iniisip ko, ‘yong installation ko ay painting din. Ang canvas ko 'yong space. Ngayon kaya ako babalik [into] painting kasi ‘yong next show ko is [titled] Symbiotic kasi parang balance siya ng existence ng mga bagay-bagay. Painting nga ‘yong gagawin ko pero may structure pa rin."

For Paredes, the physical space, similar to a canvas, is where interactions between ideas, contexts, and thoughts take place.

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indy paredes
PHOTO Courtesy of Indy Paredes

"I want the space to be a painting. Pero ‘yong material na ginather ko, ‘yon ‘yong gagamitin ko so composition siya,” he continues.

PHOTO: Jilson Tiu

A Space that Pulls Individuals and Communities Together

GAS is among the galleries, together with West Gallery, Blanc, Kaida Contemporary, and the recently opened Kalawakan SpaceTimeGallery, which is situated within the vicinity of Quezon City and found outside the warehouse compound of Makati where most art venues are located.

"'Yong first show ng GAS parang friends lang na di ko inaakalang ge-game sa shows, kasi gigil din 'yong mga tao for exhibitions para magkita-kita ulit. Tapos from that first exhibition, doon na namin na-prove na kaya ni Gravity Art Space."

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Pam Quinto's lonely is the room is on display at Gravity Art Space from April 29 to May 27.
PHOTO BY Jilson Tiu
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art pam quinto
PHOTO BY Jilson Tiu

Despite the fact that GAS was established during the pandemic, Paredes unexpectedly received an outpouring of support and encouragement from friends, fellow artists, and people he personally looks up to, including West Gallery’s Soler Santos and his mentor Christina "Ling" Quisumbing Ramilo.

Chancing upon Paredes tidying up the entire gallery during a personal visit by Santos, the latter shared that he saw the same energy in Paredes when he was still starting out as a gallerist. Paredes was appreciative that Ramilo wanted to pitch an exhibition at GAS together with some distinguished visual artists.

gravity art space exhibit
Kutob, a solo show by Filipino artist Ginoe, is currently on view at Gravity Art Space.
PHOTO BY Jilson Tiu
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gravity art space exhibit
PHOTO BY Jilson Tiu
gravity art space exhibit
PHOTO BY Jilson Tiu

He also mentioned that he has high regard for artist-run spaces such as Leslie de Chavez’s Project Space Pilipinas and Gene Paul Martin’s Sampaguita Projects. It is also a factor that artists Nichole Fern and Ramon Afable, who concluded his first solo exhibition at GAS, are part of the small team that helps manage the gallery.

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Misnomer by Jao San Pedro
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Becoming and Unbecoming by Rowshan Begum
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PHOTO BY Jilson Tiu
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gravity art space
Today's Homework by Don Quintos and Nathaniel Enriquez
PHOTO BY Jilson Tiu
gravity art space
PHOTO BY Jilson Tiu

"Artist ako and I know the struggle of being an artist and if I will talk to an artist who wants to have an exhibition, alam ko ‘yong concern nila. I understand you. I can hear you. Being an artist, ang daming nagtitiwala e. ‘Yon ‘yong ayaw kong masira e," adds Paredes emphasizing how his role as an artist has become an advantage in running the gallery.

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"When they say gravity, di siya ‘yong material na pinu-pull. Gravity is ‘yong anong element ka para maka-attract something sa ‘kin. Kasi kung titingnan mo ‘yong forces sa paligid, it’s also acted by gravity… The gravity pulls us together."

dirty kitchen hidden bar
Dirty Kitchen is a speakeasy within Gravity Art Space.
PHOTO BY Jilson Tiu
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PHOTO BY Jilson Tiu
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dirty kitchen
PHOTO BY Jilson Tiu
dirty kitchen
PHOTO BY Jilson Tiu

Paredes, together with his partner Melany Matias, envisioned GAS to be a space for interaction and all kinds of exchanges, hence the addition of a hidden bar, Dirty Kitchen. He recounts seeing a similar set-up in Berlin, Germany where presentations at a gallery spill over to a bar next to it.

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"The heart of Dirty Kitchen is Gravity Art Space; and also Gravity Art Space depends somehow on Dirty Kitchen on having spaces for relaxed discourse," he notes.

indy paredes of gravity art space
PHOTO BY Jilson Tiu

The old gym above a Japanese restaurant that closed down during the pandemic has been refurbished into an artist-run space—its re-opening as a gallery and a bar at present signaled revival not only of the space but of loss of connections and interactions. Similar to Paredes’ installations, there is so much more to a facade of infrastructure only if one is willing to explore and discover its insides. Gravitas is a force in nature that binds things together, but as for Paredes, it is his enthusiasm and openness that consequently led everything to fall into its rightful place.

Photos by Jilson Tiu

Gravity Art Space is along Mother Ignacio Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City. It is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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