Curated by Rivoli Fine Art and Elizabeth Royer, Mark Nicdao presents his new exhibit called “Chapter 8: Misfired Synapses” at Canal Grande, Venice.
Almost a year ago, Filipino artist Mark Nicdao’s paintings were featured in the 18th edition of ASIA NOW’s exhibit with the works of other Asian artists. During this exhibit, art curator Elizabeth Royer’s keen eyes examined Nicdao’s thirteen artworks. Impressed by his talent and skill, Royer presented Nicdao with an opportunity: a solo show in Venice, Italy.
Chapter 8: Misfired Synapses
Nicdao’s creative process changed for this collection. He began by using raw materials, buying powder pigments instead of acrylic pre-mixed tubes and even going as far as making his own gesso, a primer for raw canvases. He also used recycled burlap sacks and stretched the material over the linen canvases, giving an antique feel to his paintings. Through working with these materials, Nicdao unleashed a new form of his creativity. “It’s so cathartic because starting raw made me discover a lot of new things I can do,” he said.
He spent eight to ten hours a day painting in Venice, and would take breaks by stretching and doing breathing exercises to manage his mental health. “In that whole course, I had a lot of mental breakdowns. It was even harder than how I imagined it to be,” he shared. “I would have nightmares. I would just think that everything sucks, like a lot of the impostor syndrome I felt. I was drained, but I think it’s stupid of me to stop.”
In the end, Nicdao completed eighteen paintings for the show, entitling the collection, “Chapter 8: Misfired Synapses.” The show delves deeper into the philosophical subject that was previously covered in the past two years of his work, focusing on how broken synapses materialize as a flaw in the life symphony that determines both success and failure. Nicdao described it as “coalescing to recount the stories of human frailty, resilience, and the perpetual search for equilibrium.”
He emphasized the show’s connection to his previous works. “Like [the] internal organs of our bodies and even imaginary things, I would create imaginary internal organs. They all connect like they are alive, even the inanimate,” he said.
In college, Nicdao looked up to Italian painting masters Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Artemisia Gentileschi, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Tiziano Vecelli, Tintoretto, and Paolo Veronese. Even in his pursuit of photography, his fascination for these artists never faded and continued to drive him. “It furthered my ambition to achieve even just 2% of their abilities through my photographs,” he said.
A decade since his early days in photography, he found himself in the country of these historical artists. During his stay, he also discovered new inspiration. “The people here inspired me because of their support. Attilio Baggerman, Massimiliano Lorenzelli, and the legend Pippo Basile who helped me take back my losing confidence,” he said. “Being here in Italy and painting for a solo show in Palazzo made me shudder every day, but it is the best teacher for humility, hard work, and deep contemplation on why you do things, and why you exist, and what matters. It made me raw as well.”
What Matters Most
Nicdao is on a roll with his fast-progressing career as an artist. When asked how it feels to be globally recognized, Nicdao describes the feeling as “intoxicating” and “amazing.” He openly shared that as much as it is good, it can be easy to slip and lose sight of what matters most. This is why for aspiring artists, he offered one piece of advice.
“Never believe in your own hype, or how other people hype you. Check your work, how do you make it better or even the best? And mostly check your changing attitude towards others,” he said. “Fame, likes, recognition… It’s all just fleeting. What stays is what and how you feel.”