In conversation: Lexygius Sanchez Calip
Lexygius Sanchez Calip is a Filipino-American art practitioner and scholar whose practice and philosophy work in accord, investigating how his sensibilities discern into something tangible, and how that form it takes becomes wise and clever.
Insights of an Eco Artist Team
29 de novembro de 2022
My practice is where my art and philosophy work in accord. It is where both of them
become malleable and yield each other’s form. It is how my sensibilities discern into something
tangible, and how that form it takes becomes wise and clever—a palimpsest, where the invisible
is felt, heard, and seen again, and where its wary presence gleams a profound consciousness.
First of all, tell us about your background. How did you start working in art? And when did you realize you wanted to follow this path?
As a young art student in Manila, Philippines, in the early 1990s, where painting is a predominant discipline, art was introduced to me through this lens. However, it dramatically changed when I immigrated to the United States, where my art and practice shifted towards conceptualism. With this, most of the underlying context behind my current projects is geared on inquiries that extend and exemplify the concept of the liminal in art, while simultaneously addressing our shared and lived realities—the subversive and transversal nature of uncertainty and impermanence.
I grew up in a country where art is not a common endeavor one can easily pursue, due to its challenging economic and societal conditions. But my pursuit of it has always been encouraged by my family. My interest in art manifested at an early age, not something I just found along the way; an intuition that has always been present which I constantly follow and observe. However, art is not something that was presented to me on a silver platter, it is a path that I independently endure continuously shaping and reshaping it; a path gradually paved by my failures and pre-concepts informed by the temporary markings and gestures I leave behind.
As an artist and as a person, how do you describe yourself?
As an art practitioner, I devote most of my time, as much as I can, to observing everything that occurs within myself and my initial environment for intermittent chances of an artistic response that may be worth pursuing. I try to be more aware of anything that may have the potential for a meaningful collaboration or a dialogue with, whether that may be a sound I hear, or momentary instances within the initial space or place that calls my attention. Mostly, my work and practice are geared towards contributing to the contemporary art discourse.
As a person, I see myself as an individual molded by my history, memories, and experiences. I am simple yet complex, I am quiet yet loud, and I’m in between biases yet bias all the same. Though, often I would try to position myself on a threshold, staying neutral, in order to see and understand all sides and perspectives. I regularly try to see things through a deconstructed lens, pulling my perception from afar to fully see and understand the interconnectedness and relationality of things; an overview of things I don’t normally see on the ground. This manner of analysis taught me patience, for waiting plays a big part in my practice.
You coined the term Physiotemporal to describe your artistic process and practice. Can you explain this term?
Physiotemporal is a postulation centered on an alternative art practice framework exemplified by natural and time durational applications that convey my philosophy and methodologies in practice. It stemmed from Marcel Duchamp’s concept of the Inframince or Infra-thin (i.e. the sound our pants make as we walk, the space between letters in a written word, the intermittent quiet abruptions between sounds, the pauses between the words we utter as we speak, etc.). It is an approach that enables a different way of seeing, which simultaneously improves how one can observe, engage, and appreciate something that is normally overlooked and ignored, something that is considered invisible and intangible; of how it can stimulate an enhanced sense of perception and foster a heightened sensibility and awareness.
This concept steers towards a direction where an art practice, such as mine, autonomously evolves away from how contemporary art has always been practiced and produced, and the manner of how it can be received by the general public. It similarly extends Duchamp’s concept of the ‘ready-made’ by naturally responding to what has been ‘already-made.’ It unlocks how and what form of art and sustainable practices can be conceived and acted upon within its reimagined parameters while addressing the relevant issues of our time.
As an example, one approach I regularly observe is that I would intentionally put myself in precarious situations (i.e. showing up on a space with nothing but myself for a site-intervention, or creating work utilizing what is available within a given space, etc.). This method enables or reawakens my dormant sensibilities, where my process is guided by spontaneous forces beyond myself. I prefer my artistic responses to be as raw as possible. The concept and gestures that occur along with it are always determined by the space and the conditions given by that specific moment; a collaborative response that activates my mental faculties and resourcefulness. It is sustainable and economical and it continuously challenges me in this manner.
In your artistic statement, you mentioned that your art is “where the invisible is felt, heard, and seen again, and where its warry presence gleams a profound consciousness.” Can you deconstruct these ideas for us?
Often, the invisible is considered as something that one cannot see, and these unseen or unheard aspects of existence, commonly described as nothingness and silence, are ignored or overlooked tangible experiences. They are integral factors in this world we exist in, and the cosmos it belongs to. They hold a significant parallel to what we choose to see, hear, feel, or pay attention to every day. The presence of the things we see, for example, are appreciations gained from the absence of it, as with what we hear, feel, smell, taste, and so forth. These sensorial aspects define the way we experience the world and the memories we make from it.
Likewise, this fragile and malleable interface that defines presence and absence is not just a barrier that separates them, but a bond that holds them together as well. This transversal nature of presence and absence highlights a subversive reality—non-dualism—a consciousness that mirrors all lived realities. This relationality carries a profound impact on our daily experiences and inter-relations with everything around us. These notions underscore a significant portion of my art practice, emphasizing the constant changes that are beyond our control.
What can you tell us about the different stages of creation and motivation behind the performance Minding the Gap?
Minding the Gap is a gesture. I can’t really say that there are different stages in the creation process, but it demonstrates how my approach is temporal and momentary. The piece is a documentation of an event that spontaneously occurred at the right time. The idea and motivation for the action was conceived right there and then. It conveys a person walking within a threshold between darkness and light. The layers of meaning it reveals are open for scrutiny and interpretation.
Also, I do admire the aspect of how we can temporarily detach ourselves physically from our shadows when we jump.
Your area of investigation into the artistic field involves several methodologies and processes. How do you start your creative process?
I consider my practice as an ongoing process. There is a beginning, an end, and none at the same time. My inquiries constantly grow and decrease, like a wave that peaks and sink down in repetition. I think it is good to say that my practice is always collaborative because it contains not just my actions, it contains the elements within the environment that I engage as well. Maybe this is why I emphasize in mentioning that I perceive my works as ‘dialogues,’ and my engagements with what is around me as ‘gestures,’ because one cannot exist without the other.
As a scholar awarded with many fellowships and awards, what would you advice to an artist trying to pursue a career as both an art practitioner and scholar?
We all persevere with passion. I believe that with focus and dedication towards what we aspire to with what we are good at, and with what we can contribute to ourselves and the society at large, is what makes what we do in art relevant and purposeful. It is healthy to question and challenge our roles in society and our practices, for this is how we can extend and create knowledge. And being mindful and thoughtful are good practices, for what we do now are the things we bestow to future generations.
You have a collection of works entitled Mark Making. What were you investigating both conceptually and visually?
Mark making is a big part of my practice. It is very interesting to me, because they are everywhere yet they remain invisible. With this, I emphasize the performative power it hides by highlighting its presence within a given space, while similarly underscoring the notion of confinement and having limitations. Often, my gestures appear as contained shapes and as lines, not just as an instrument for composition, but as a presence. With some of the works in this collection, the line, for instance, stands out as a powerful symbol. I just underline the metaphor it commands. It is a gesture which incorporates a linear aesthetic in response to how we utilize lines as normal practices of claiming and separating things.
What do you feel is your contribution as an artist and scholar to the progression of the contemporary art world?
With humility, I cannot say that I have, but it is an undertaking I intend and try to keep. I believe that I am still in the process of working on what I may be able to put on the table. I do hope that my pursuits shall be seen and received as such in reimagining a much needed reevaluation of contemporary art and its practices, for my endeavors now may underwrite a reshaping of it tomorrow.
Finally, do you have any message you would like to leave the readers?
Frank Zappa said that “the mind is like a parachute; it only works when it’s open.”
And, let us be more kind to one another…
Lexygius Sanchez Calip. (b. 1974, Manila, Philippines). An art practitioner and scholar. He is a recipient of the Anne Bremer Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts, and the Excellence in Scholarship Master of Arts Thesis Award at the San Francisco Art Institute. He is a Freeman Foundation Fellow for the Vermont Studio Center, VT; a Graduate Fellow for the Headlands center for the Arts, and an awardee for the Murphy Cadogan Art Awards in San Francisco.
His works has been exhibited nationally and internationally, such as the Con-temporary Art Observatorium in Lavagna, and the Anima Mundi International Art Fair in Venice, Italy; the IN LINE Gallery in London, England; the deYoung Museum, the Walter and McBean Galleries, the Schafer Gallery at the Fort Mason Cultural Center, and SOMArts in San Francisco California; The Brickton Art Center, the Woman Made Gallery, the Elephant Room Gallery, and The Hairpin Art Center in Chicago, Illinois; the Bliss on Bliss Art Projects in New York, NY and Bogota, Colombia; the UAMO Festival in Munich, Germany; the EWNS Art Project in Paris, France; the Metropolitan Museum, the Jorge P. Vargas Museum, the Ateneo Museum of Modern Art, the GSIS Museum of Art, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila among others.
He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in New Genres, Master of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art, and the Master of Arts degree in History and Theory of Contemporary Art at the San Francisco Art Institute. He is a Lecturer for the Art and Art History Department at San Jose State University and the Art and Art History and Museum Studies at the University of San Francisco. He currently lives in San Francisco CA.