Kristoffer Ardeña is excited for his next project. He hasn’t yet decided what form it will take, but he’s pretty sure it will involve painting with perfume. It could be a performative piece and may include nudes.
“I’m interested in exploring what it might be like to paint in a non-visual way by painting with perfumes which represent colors,” Ardeña says. “Either painting a landscape or perhaps even directly onto a model’s body, and to document that in some way as a piece of art which challenges our idea of painting as a visual art form.”
From Dumaguete to Madrid
Ardeña grew up in Dumaguete, where he discovered his talents as an artist. At 18 he moved to Germany and then to Luxembourg, where he apprenticed under several European artists, before relocating to San Francisco to study, with a full scholarship, at the Academy of Art.
He then returned to Europe and settled, for a time, in Madrid, Spain.
“Art in Europe has a formality to it which I find interesting. Art is very well defined there; what it is, how it is displayed, where it is displayed, who it is for,” Ardeña explains, “but I find that constraining to my own creative process.”
Return to Negros
Seeking greater creative freedom and a place to open his first studio, Ardeña returned to Negros Island in 2013.
“I settled in Bacolod because it’s small enough to give me freedom of expression as an artist but still big enough that I can find the supplies I need to work. It’s also a very beautiful and inspiring place with a unique energy,” Ardeña says.
“In the Philippines, people are creative but you don’t have to call it art. The culture here is very performative and narrative. It’s very laid-back and I find that the possibilities are greater; the possibility to try new things, to succeed or even to fail at something is exciting,” he adds.
Ardeña admits the breadth of his portfolio of work makes it difficult for people to grasp who he is as an artist. But, he says, he doesn’t mind being indefinable.