Julio Jose Austria or ”Jojo” for short was born in Manila. He finished his bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at the University of Santo Tomas. Jojo is a recipient of the 2009 Asian Artist Fellowship Award in Vermont Studio Center, a Joan Mitchell Foundation grantee for the Ox-Bow School for the Arts in 2010 and a Ruth Katzman scholarship awardee by the Vytlacil Campus of the Arts student League in New York.
Jojo’s art has been characterized by his physical distance from home, being far away from his country of birth has obviously expanded his world, as expressed in his art, his vivid recollections and deep reflections of his European sojourn can be glimpsed in every colourful nook and cranny of his work.
Jojo has exhibited in many major cities of Europe, in Essen, Vienna, London, Berlin, among others. His latest solo exhibition in Hanau, Germany was one of the highlights of the art season there, and was well received and appreciated by the German audience.
You recently had an Exhibition in Hanau, Germany. How did the German audience reacted to your artwork?
Very positive, I think. You see, I normally paint the environment where I am and I strive to exactly portray the local sensibilities in my shows which the local audience seem to appreciate and can relate to on each and every work that I present.
Please explain your art.
My work mainly focuses on journey, migration and urbanity which provide a visual portrayal of my life experiences and narration based on my observations and absorption of the place where I am.
My work demonstrate how form generates meaning, and how formalism – abstraction – social realism divides have indeed been rendered untenable of how color, texture and stroke become analogous to layered existence of the weary urbanite while still indulging my artist’s passionate proclivity to the paring down afforded by degrees of non–representation.
What do you think is an artist’s role in our society?
I think artists see what other people don’t, so it’s a responsibility for us to deliver a message.
I believe artists should not just focus on the physical work but also on the content, story and meaning that may contribute to society and history.
Do you have other jobs aside from being an artist?
Yes, just on the small side. I work in a company in New York City that holds the estate of an old art collector of vintage drawings, etchings and lithographs. We put it on auction and I am the one doing the preparation like condition reports, estimates and research.
What challenges are there for a young artist like you?
Well, it is the challenge of an uncertain life and taking risks. For no matter what struggles and frustrations one faces, one must still hold one’s ground and stay focused in this passion of living with one’s art.
Where do you get your ideas, inspirations?
I normally get most of my ideas through the surroundings where I find myself. I try to learn and explore each culture and people as much as I can.
I am a wanderer by nature – travelling intensively, gathering inspirations and ideas along the way.
Do you have any favorite place to do your work?
Yes. I find haven in my studio in Brooklyn, NY and also in almost every place in the world that I have been so far.
What is your goal or dreams as an artist?
To be always different and to be accepted in the world of art.
We wish you all the very best. See you again in Europe in the near future. God bless you.
From the Autumn 2016 Issue of Roots and Wings. Read the Full Magazine here.