Arts & Culture

This Avant-Garde Designer Creates Abstract Art Inspired by Fairytales

Here's a first look at Michelline Syjuco's pieces.

Michelline Syjuco is a woman born into the arts. With respected artists Cesare and Jean Marie Syjuco as her parents, her path seemed not only inevitable but designed. In fact, at four years old, she was the youngest painter to be screened and exhibited at the Art Association of the Philippines. 

But don't mistake Syjuco as a woman with a sole medium. "Creative ventures have always been my passion; I do wearable art pieces, large-scale wood and metal sculptures, installations, as well as paintings," she shares. Thus, this Filipina artist resides in the phantom crevices that divide multiple art forms. It's easy for Syjuco to showcase her talent in mixed media as demonstrated in her previous works. But it is only now that she reveals her true self as a painter. talked to Syjuco about her upcoming solo exhibit this January. Read on and find out about her creative process and how her vision of the mystical and magical can take a tangible form.

1. Tell us about your latest collection.

"My latest body of work is comprised of 20 wall mounted paintings. This is my very first solo exhibition of paintings, and I had to take time out from doing my wearable art pieces so that I could totally focus on finishing the series. As with all my works in the past, my inspiration is fantasy, sword, and sorcery, phantasmagoria and fairytales. Whereas in the past, however, where I drew inspiration from the dark side of these things, Revelation focuses on the lighter side. They can be described as abstract landscapes and avant-garde floral motifs which evoke the ethereal, mystical and otherworldly aspects of fantasy, fairytales, and phantasmagoria."

2. Why did you entitle it as Revelation?

"I decided to entitle the body of work as such because it really is a revelation of sorts. Most people know me as a designer of wearable art and as a sculptor. And, although many of my works in the past incorporate my hand painted elements, this is the first time they will see the side of me that is purely the painter."


3. Can you walk us through your creative process? Where do you usually draw inspiration from?

"My creative process is pretty much the same whether it's for wearable art pieces, sculptures or paintings. Basically, I use my hands and my imagination to produce something that expresses my creativity. The materials and medium may be different, but the process and execution are pretty much the same."

4. Do you have any artists who you look up to or resonate with?

"Definitely my mom and dad. They are the main influence in my life as an artist. They taught me how to think out of the box and how to break free from the norm."

5. How would you describe your design aesthetic?

"My aesthetic is very much tied to my love for otherworldly places and things. I am drawn to things that are mystical, magical and divine."

6. You were already painting at an early age and later on, you delved into fashion design. How did you find yourself back to swishing brushes?

"I've always incorporated painting into my work—whether it be for my sculptural bags, which I hand-painted individually, or even for my free-standing sculptures. I've also been in many group shows in the past, but what I've always wanted to do was a show featuring my large-scale wall paintings. It was just very difficult to actually set aside time to focus on doing just that. I actually had to cancel a show in Paris and another one in Japan this past year so that I could finally finish my series."

7. How does being a painter differ from being a designer? Or perhaps, how do these two overlap?


"Painting and designing are both facets of who I am as a multi-disciplinary artist. They are intrinsically intertwined with my being."

Michelline Syjuco's first solo painting exhibit runs from January 16-31 at Galerie Joaquin, 8 Rockwell.

This story originally appeared on
* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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