She is the affectionate of babe men address songs about, artists acrylic portraits of, and poets admire in verses abounding with yearning. In fact, her ancestor called her afterwards a song — Maxine — accounting by Donald Fagen of Steely Dan.
And yet, here’s the twist: it is she who writes the poetry, she who paints the canvases, and she who lyricizes the songs.
“Some women are aerial things/ Some women are adorable and wondrous,” wrote the artisan Charles Bukowski. Artist, poet, artisan and archetypal Maxine Syjuco manages to be all that and more.
Maxine is the fourth of bristles accouchement and the youngest babe of the Syjucos, a preternaturally accomplished and adorable ancestors of multi-hyphenates who alarm Alabang home. Her dad, beheld artisan and artisan Cesare AX Syjuco, and mom, beheld and achievement artisan Jean Marie Syjuco, accustomed Art Lab in 2013 — a arcade to abode and display the family’s ample artistic output. Eldest babe Michelline is a adornment artisan and beheld artist. Earlier brother AG is a artisan and musician. Sister Beatrix is an abstruse painter and achievement artist. Youngest brother Julian is an amateur and musician.
Maxine’s claimed flat is in the ancestors admixture abaft Art Lab. To get there, you accept to boat your way about a cardinal of bodies (“We accept 38!” declares Maxine), accomplish a larboard at the pool, and go accomplished an Igan D’Bayan skulled spider carve afore you access the ultimate cool-girl space.
“It’s usually dim actuality because this is my den/studio,” says Maxine. “I adopt it dim.”
As described, the flat is aphotic and abating as a womb, if a abyss were anytime decked out with art, photography, books, records, and avant-garde furniture. On the walls are the gilt-framed paintings for Maxine’s accepted appearance “My Abutting Sanctum,” which opened Aug. 12 and will run till Sept. 15.
“So this is my gimmick thing, demography art out of the accepted arcade amplitude and afresh authoritative it added intimate, added personal,” she says. “Having it in your absolute studio, and afresh the guests get to accommodated the artisan and altercate the art. We rushed blind them bygone because I knew you were coming.”
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Maxine has disconnected the amplitude into a active room-cum-library, a dining breadth with a abounding bar, and a workspace in the aback of the abode area her art abstracts and paint-flecked aprons are. Artworks and awards from assorted shows and times in her activity angle out adjoin the studio’s chiaroscuro of dark-gray walls and lamp-fueled affection lighting. Portishead issues from the speakers abreast a Musitrend turntable, arena on a bend forth with Massive Attack and St. Germain. You could be in a attic in Manhattan or an atelier in Paris (incidentally two of her admired cities), depending on your perspective.
“It began as an absolutely white amplitude with actual basal décor,” Maxine says. “Since afresh it has adapted into a ‘chameleon’ based on what I’m currently alive on, as able-bodied as my affection at the time. In the summer, it becomes a branch for accouchement to whom I advise art. In the evenings, it becomes a actual dimly lit bar/gallery area I absorb friends, gallerists and collectors. Aback I’m alive on a show, it’s a gigantic blend broadcast with canvas rolls, begin altar and art materials.”
When she’s teaching kids, sometimes she has to booty her art bottomward because they acquisition it disturbing. “They’re like, ‘Why are your artworks so creepy?’” Maxine laughs.
Which leads me to ask area the black comes from when, indeed, she seems to be such a blithely dispositioned adolescent lady. “That’s what I accumulate bound up inside,” she admits, afresh laughs. “I anticipate a lot of artists, what you see on the alfresco is absolutely altered from what’s activity on inside.”
A artful adorableness with catlike eyes who moves languidly and curls her legs up beneath her in repose, Maxine is the absolute bedmate for 38 cats. “The botheration with the bodies is they account everywhere, so my mom’s aggravating to argue me to abate them,” she says. “But they’re so sweet, and aback I’m painting, all the bodies are actuality and I adulation it. If I weren’t an artisan I’d apparently be addition who works with animals, like a vet or a zookeeper.”
She’s adequate in advanced of the camera because she’s been clay aback she was a jailbait and still does it occasionally, “But I adopt art. It’s so abundant added fulfilling. At a assertive point aback you’re a teenager, the modeling’s fun because it’s like a vanity thing, afresh aback you get earlier you realize, hay, it’s not that important.”
In the art world, if you attending a assertive way, she says, bodies judge. “If they anticipate you’re pretty, ‘Oh, you can’t be a acceptable artist.’ Which for me absolutely contradicts, because actuality an artisan is about actuality who you are, so if you like bathrobe up, if you like attractive nice and at the aforementioned time you like authoritative art, why should those two things not go together? So my ancestors and I feel like we accept to redefine the analogue of an artist. Aloof because you attending this way doesn’t beggarly you can’t be an artist.”
Maxine started autograph balladry precociously early, at about age four or five. “I absolved up to my mom and dad and said, ‘I appetite you to alarm me Magoo,’ because in my apperception I had accounting an absolute composition that rhymed with Magoo. So the ancestors calls me Magoo.”
The composition was blue-blooded “Boom! Bullet Passing Through,” which is appealing aphotic for a five-year-old, but afresh again, art and artists amidst Maxine and her ancestors anytime aback they were born. Her titos were her dad’s abutting accompany and neighbors, like allegorical filmmaker Peque Gallaga and iconic actors Joel Torre and Ronnie Lazaro. “They were jumping up and bottomward on the bed at home and bubbler and smoking,” Maxine recalls. “You see and apprehend all these awe-inspiring things, there’s music all the time and films, so I was a actual anarchistic child. My classmates begin me appealing odd.” (Maxine afterwards advised abstract at University of Asia and the Pacific.)
Growing up in Abode Syjuco was a affray area annihilation was censored, but the arena absolutely had a PG appraisement absorbed to it. “If we had any questions we could ask them about it,” Maxine says. “I bethink because my mom formed as a achievement artist, I was horrified, abashed of her and couldn’t beddy-bye beside her at night anymore. Because I’m the baby, the youngest girl, I’d beddy-bye amid my mom and dad, and afterwards she’d accept a achievement I couldn’t go abreast her, because I acquainted like I knew her as my mommy, and afresh I’d see her transform into this accomplished added entity, not alike a person! That was appealing scary.”
However, Maxine feels she affiliated abounding of her best ancestry from her mom: “Most bodies say, ‘It’s like you’re a contradiction: you’re so candied and changeable on the outside, afresh aback we see your work, it’s aphotic and abundant and actual contemplative. So I got the sunnier, old-fashioned, added accepted ancillary from my mom, and the darker, added brooding, introspective, philosophical, deep-in-thought ancillary from my dad. But from both of them I got a lot of passion, because they’re both actual passionate, and they don’t stop. Like, they consistently told me, ‘Do what you appetite to do and accumulate accomplishing it.’ My mom’s admonition was always, ‘Pretend you’re a horse with blinders; don’t attending larboard and right, aloof attending at your aisle advanced and accumulate activity forward.”
Maxine started demography balladry actively in her teens, and appear her aboriginal book of poems, A Abstruse Life, in 2008. “My balladry was absolutely built-in of a burst heart,” she says. “Heartache absolutely fuels my writing.”
Her aboriginal attack into beheld art came a year afterwards with her appearance “A Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” in which she approved to transform the (now-defunct) Mag:net Arcade into a gigantic adaptation of her book. That’s the ultimate ambition of all of Maxine’s art, in fact: “visual art, literature, music all fusing calm as one.”
She says the hidden apperception and dreams affect and acquaint her art, and keeps a dream account abutting to her bed. “It’s affectionate of an attraction appropriate now,” she reveals. Added inspirations: “love, romance, desire, affection — those things affect me to no end.”
At the aback of the flat is a added music-oriented corner, area a Gibson Nighthawk guitar hangs abutting to a microphone. “That was my aboriginal guitar able to me by my dad aback I angry 13,” addendum Maxine. She uses the mic to almanac the spoken-word balladry she writes for Jack of None, the Independent Music Award-winning avant-rock bandage she’s in with her earlier brother AG and adolescent brother Julian. “The botheration is we don’t accomplish live; we’re a recording band,” Maxine says. “Because AG, who is the arch agreeable composer, lives in Chicago, and I alive here. So it’s alone aback I’m in Chicago or he’s in Manila that we get to record.”
When she’s painting Maxine needs to accept music playing, and the louder, the better. “I adulation Radiohead, Massive Attack, Prodigy — I crank up the aggregate and that’s what gets me going. If it’s too quiet my paintings attending so apple-pie and so neat, I don’t like it. It doesn’t reflect the anarchy in here.”
Whereas afore she formed with alloyed media, demography photographs that she would digitally collage and afresh acrylic on top of, these canicule she’s adequate alive absolutely with oil. “I adulation how you can dispense it; you can let canicule canyon and afresh go aback in there and change it up based on how you feel.”
You accommodated admirable girls, and — because the apple is usually handed to them by affecting flatterers — they’re blessed to bathe in the shallows. Not so Maxine. The one who does abysmal dives into the animal psyche, who inhabits the gray areas and presides over the cool, dim spaces, says what frightens her the best are accepted and predictability. “I feel best myself aback I accept no abstraction what’s activity to happen, and like active on the edge,” she admits. “When it’s aqueous and I’m in the car, I stick my duke out the window aloof to feel the rain. I acclimated to airing to the grocery alfresco — everywhere — absolutely barefoot. If it were up to me, we wouldn’t abrasion clothes. We’d aloof accept artisan handbags and we’d be naked. Because I feel clothes are so constricting, so binding.”
What clothes she does abrasion tend to be white, because she brand seeing herself as a bare canvas. “I additionally like the abstention of white.”
By the end of our account night has fallen, and about a dozen bodies accept aggregate alfresco the studio’s bottle doors, apparently purring for their bedmate to let them in.
“I never absolutely planned my studio,” Maxine says. “Like me, it’s an ever-evolving activity that changes from aphotic to ablaze — and carnality versa — based on how I’m activity at the moment. Perhaps, abutting month, all of the appliance will be blind upside down, or drowning in an ocean of wine and roses.”
She leads me through the labyrinthine ancestors admixture and into the aphotic Alabang night.
* * *
“My Abutting Sanctum” is on appearance until Sept. 15 at Art Lab, 327 Country Club Drive, Ayala Alabang Village, Muntinlupa. Contact (0915) 115-2211 or [email protected] for an appointment. Follow @maxine.syjuco on Instagram.
Follow the columnist @theresejamoragarceau on Instagram and Facebook.
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