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Interview | Martin Honasan and Barbie Almalbis - Honasan
Martin Honasan (b.1976, Quezon City, Philippines) is a graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, (Psychology and Communication Arts clusters). He worked as visual artist in advertising (1999-2001), then as managing partner in his own design firm (2001-2004) prior to pursuing painting full-time. Honasan began his career as a watercolorist, painting street scenes & figures, but in 2010 he started exploring acrylics on figurative & some abstract works on canvas. He is married to musician Barbie Almalbis with whom he has a daughter and a son.
Martin Honasan and Barbie Almalbis-Honasan
Barbie Almalbis (b. August 26, 1977 in Roxas City, Capiz) is a popular singer and songwriter from the Philippines. Formerly the lead singer of the popular bands Hungry Young Poets and Barbie's Cradle, she pursued a solo career in 2005, releasing her self-titled compilation album, Barbie: The Singles. In 2006, she released her debut solo album, Parade, and most recently, her acclaimed album Goodbye My Shadow. Her music is characterised by a distinct vocal style and deft guitar work. Multi-awarded and acclaimed, Barbie has received numerous awards and nominations from the most prestigious award-giving bodies in the Philippines.
Given the theme of love, how did you arrive at the painting and the poem? What about love did you want to show your audience?
Do you find it easy to work with a spouse, or does it pose its unique
Martin: Collaboration is something new to both of us because we almost always paint and write music alone. At first, it seemed daunting, but when we actually started the project it wasn't that hard at all. Being married for seven years definitely made it easy for Barbie to understand and interpret what I was trying to express.
Martin did visual work while Barbie did lyrical. What were your respective creative processes like for this project, and, as you were finishing the project, the collaborative process?
Barbie: I wrote the song with the aid of a guitar. I started with a simple chord progression, and then made the words and melody together. I did this in Martin's studio while he was applying the final touches on the painting. Martin, like most of his paintings, started by painting layers upon layers of abstract patterns until he sees a figure within the shapes and colors. It's a very messy process!
Martin: Our processes, in general, are very similar. We both build our pieces expressionistically -- we try to minimize pre-planning much of the aesthetic or melodic direction of our compositions, and maximize happy accidents. This made our collaborative process a lot easier, especially from Barbie's end, since she already knows my workflow, habits, and baggage!
Martin: I wanted to create a painting that focused more on love as an enduring, sustained choice, instead of the explosive, passionate, emotional, Eros aspect of it. At the start of the project I immediately thought of my lola's (grandmother's) love story. It was a story of this wealthy, Spanish haciendera type girl who leaves it all for her simple soldier boyfriend. My lolo (grandfather) passed away almost 30 years ago; what moves me is that until now she still mourns for him. She still gets a little misty-eyed when we talk about lolo. It's heartbreaking because she seems to carry this everyday, [but] at the same time, the love is inspiring. As for Barbie, she says that when she looked at the piece she saw a sense of longing, so she focused on the hope that we have for eternal love.
Click on "Golden" (above) to see Honasan's painting and listen to Almalbis' original music and lyrics.
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