The Magic Realist

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INTRO: Antonio de Pacis is the Chair of the Editorial Board of the Filipinos in New Zealand Group who himself admits to being an avid collector of contemporary art for many years. He is currently in Vancouver Canada where he manages his businesses but commutes to New Zealand frequently to be with his children and grandchildren. In this post, he writes his own impressions about the fundamental significance of art and why people take time to create it in the first place. In this case, he features a personality whom some have come to know in New Zealand as a reputation manage ment specialist and also as a published writer. In this piece, however, he reveals to us another facet of this person’s store of talents as a prolific creator of eclectic art called ‘magic realism’.




Pablo Picasso once remarked that the purpose of art is to wash the dust of daily life off our souls.


Art is the signature of civilizations. What a society deems important is enshrined in its art. Its aim is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. It is the literacy of the heart and to create one’s own world in any of the arts takes courage.


Art teaches nothing, except the significance of life. It is everywhere, except it has to pass through a creative mind. It is the child of imagination and gives life.


Imagination is the true magic of our souls peering through the veils of reality and good art is not what it looks like, but what it does to us. It is the pleasure of the mind which sees beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.


As a keen collector of art I personally believe that painting is easy for those that do not know how, but very difficult for those who do. Maybe that’s so because art is not about what the artist sees, but what he or she makes others see. One such artist I collect art from who manages to do this is Karl Quirino who lives in New Zealand.


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From ancient caves to modern art galleries, offices and homes we humans have peppered our surroundings with multitude expressions of art to adorn, inspire or inform. It is powerful as it is sublime. Art is the only common denominator of humanity’s innate urge to create, to express, invent and innovate. It is found in all cultures and spans across all periods of man’s history on this planet. Art precedes writing and language and the learning of it. Do you wonder why? Well, put a piece of crayon or pencil in the hands of a 2-year old toddler and in no time you’ll have the child creating something with it on paper, your floor and walls. Art is as primal as our need to breathe or eat food to stay alive. It is found in fabrics we call clothing and explains why graffiti even exists at all in our public spaces. It is burned into our DNA and is integral to our human nature.




Drawing on his keen interest in the ambiguities, contradictions and nuances of humanity, Karl creates eclectic pieces of art which for those who happen to see or own them leaves behind some insightful reflections about what we are.


Self-taught over the years with a skills set employing traditional paint brushes and palette knives he has since migrated to a spectrum of computer-related applications that bring together a unique combination of technological applica tions and processes. He creates visual representations which communicate ideas. The end results are that his productions evoke a variety of visual state ments that impress on people’s imagination.


Karl has mastered the digital medium quite well over the years. As a tool set, he now sees it as natural a natural exten sion over drawing on paper or painting on canvas which he once did although he admits that he has become quite rusty with the traditional ways of drawing or painting in such mediums as watercolour, oil or acrylic. “It’s a relief not getting the under of my fingernails dirty anymore and I don’t have to clean crusty paint-filled brushes as I once did before”, he remarks. Obviously, the fuss and time he saves is somewhat translated into pro ducing more of his art.


Still, his creative outputs are not meant as mundane artworks or designs for the promotion or development of goods, services or commercial ideas. He actually doesn’t consider himself a “graphic artist’ in the general sense of the label. For Karl, art is a running conversation with an audience who view his artistic out puts.


Each is a progression of composition orbiting around a principle of unique ideas crafted well. All are grounded on this simple ethos: to produce evocative visual art that attracts reflection or contemplation. They are all personal projects meant only for viewing enjoyment in homes, private offices, public libraries and art galleries.




Combining conceptual brilliance with execution of sound technical knowledge, he begins virtually with empty spaces which he eventually populates with combinations of objects and a spectrum of colour stitched and transformed to evoke response. While his finished pieces are literal bordered by metaphorical edges they produce a representative sense of reality and balance because it has a human hand in it to stimulate your senses – all primal places in our being.


This artist knows well that our eyes are our primary sensory point of entry into this world and it happens dynamically at different scales of cognition and experience. When most or all the pieces fit into the right place then it works beautifully because sight backstopped with understanding provides cues for the rest of what the mind wants to believe. There is some magical realism involved in this internal process and it differs from one person to another even if some com monalities are involved.


When Karl comes up with a visual idea for him it’s much more challenging intellectually because he delves into research and does visual sampling of parts for all parts of his digital canvass – ones which take several influences from here to there and usually those containing some historical narrative or a slice of life. All his finished compositions have some background storyline involved in them otherwise they’d just end up as mindless decorations hanging on a wall.


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Good art is well researched but not in the strictly academic sense of the word. It is more akin to psychology taking form of expression reflected in finite space owned all by its own. It has the immediate goal of understanding individuals, things and spaces – our world. It ultimately aims to benefit society’s sense of self. Individuals like Karl who create excellent art receive intuitions from their unconscious mind and portray it to be realistic under this ‘magical’ process. They bring it into our awareness and towards understanding our genius as sentient beings. The best art represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance to enable us to discover ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.




Karl reveals that, “I tend to visualize a photograph or scenery I remember seeing in the past. From there in my mind’s eye, I begin to quickly sketch several objects from memory separately on plain white bond paper as rough line draw ings. Then I scan the ones I need to produce as useable digital files which I recombine into a composition. Then, the real work begins. It is somewhat like a solid block of marble standing in front of me. I can see what’s inside and then proceed to sculpt it out slowly layer after separate layer until the final form comes through just as I have imagined it”.


To liberate the imagined forms encased inside his “blocks of marble”, Karl’s hammer and chisels are digital software programmes like Corel PaintShop and Gimp. These applications enable him to transform his digitized black and white sketched outlines into semi-finished coloured layers. He eventually incorporates these “parts” jigsaw-like to make up the final rendition and then completes it with finishing touches using Photoshop.


But no matter how experienced he likes to think he is about using this parti cularly complex software application Karl nevertheless admits to being able to constantly use it to experiment with new approaches and techniques his intuition allows him to conjure up. “Like a drawing pencil or paint brush in hand” he reveals, “it’s a versatile tool for creativity that empowers me to deliver my visual ideas for a particular subject in mind.” And, the results can become somewhat stunning may I add.



We have selected 20 out of 30 compositions the artist has created in this series to give you a sneak preview and a representative idea of the style of art that has been produced. Please take note that each image contained in the above viewing panel are significantly reduced digital files of the original master files. As a result, the much higher density of pixels found on all originals compared to this subset have been altered to a much lower one (by a factor of 320x) for faster uploading and clarity may suffer to a large part depending on what device and browser you use to view it on the Web. Please be advised that these are all copyrighted materials regardless whether in original or degraded file formats and the creator of this content has all rights reserved and protected under the full extent of law.




These days, Karl is well ahead towards completing a set of 30 individual compositions that taken together form part of his ‘Winter 2014 Series Collection’. He explains that just before the onset of mid-Autumn each year in New Zealand, he begins sketching outlines for compositions that have been swirling around his head and ones he constantly reverts to refine over subsequent weeks or months. This step-by-step slog results into semi-finished coloured renditions by mid-winter which keeps him occupied enough to forget the sometimes gloomy and damp weather it brings.


As Spring arrives in mid-September, Karl shall have all his compositions basically in place for last minute touch-ups even as he may already have inscribed his name and a date on each individual piece during the cold season. He jokingly refers to this step as a “the method behind the madness”.


This final stage – the polishing process, ensures that when each piece is meti culously etched mechanically by a bespoke machine press onto an acid-free weaved canvas sheet what is produced matches exactly the original master digital file’s visual profile. Etching master file images on such special canvas, I understand, is an expensive time-consuming pro duction process. It is one which requires him to be present for each and every individual etching run which takes a whole day to complete.


Karl’s fastidious involvement from start to finish bears witness to his commit ment to ensure that the final outcomes of any run are the exact representations of what his mind’s eye visualized months earlier. What the audience eventually sees are originals.


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An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision and the only expression of Karl’s joy in his labor is when its fruits are put to some charitable purpose for good outcomes. We asked Karl what he himself thinks about his art. His reply was, “I am really nobody who creates things that people don’t need to have but want to have. But, as an artist, I cannot speak about my art any more than a plant discusses photosynthesis. What I can say is this: the essence of all my art is gratitude because I believe what I do through art is collaboration between myself and my Creator, and the less I do the better. If anything else, I want people, businesses and organisations that end up collecting my art to know that what they are ultimately doing is that some street child or orphan somewhere in this world will be fed, clothed, housed, educated and will grow up being transformed as a result of that act.”




At the moment, Karl is scouting around for a proper gallery to stage a viewing exhibit of this collection in its entirety for a month at most. For now, he is looking for collectors of art in New Zealand to contact his representative (who is listed below) expressing interest in acquiring a few his compositions to adorn their homes, offices, public libraries or as unique gifts to loved ones or close friends this coming Christmas at a pre-exhibit price to help defray all the etching production costs, the staging expenses for the exhibit and some promotional marketing collateral materials.


Corporate and local councils who also collect art for their purposes are also welcome to enquire if they wish to acquire part (minimum of 10 compositions) or the whole series as it is if they prefer.


During the exhibit, reservation forms will be made available for other parties who visit to acquire one or more pieces at post-exhibition prices which likely be set at a higher level since a good percentage of the proceeds will be donated to a NZ-registered charity foundation known as the Street Children and Orphans Trust (SCOT) that helps transform the lives of street children and orphans both in New Zealand and the Philippines.


For Enquiries Contact:


Antonio de Pacis


Chair-Editorial Board


Filipinos in New Zealand Group




Filipinos in Auckland | The Magic Realist






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