Catching Up with Ryan Arbilo

Donna Künzler, Switzerland



Ryan Arbilo is a photographic artist based in Paris, France. His work “Chicken Hands” gained him wide recognition and started his passion for capturing photos highlighting the plight and might of Filipinos in a diaspora.


I had the pleasure of chatting with Ryan after almost a year - since I missed attending the prestigious fashion show in Paris by a renowned Filipino designer which he covered. In our conversation, Ryan shares what he has been up to since he was last featured by Rawmags in 2018 and what we can expect from him in the future.

 

It has been a few years since Rawmags featured you. Please tell us, what has happened since then?


In 2019 up until early 2020, I was able to hold exhibits on my “Chicken Hands” and “Halo-halo” series in various places: at the Yuchengco Museum in the Philippines, at the Philippine Consulate General in Milan, at the Galerie Stéphane Mortier in Paris, Galerie Depardieu in Nice, and finally at the IESA Arts and Business School in Paris, curated by the well-known French gallerist Sylvana Lorenz.


At the height of the pandemic, 7 other fellow artists and I came together to form Pinta Ayuda. Our main goal was to help our kababayans in Paris, especially the elderly, who were in desperate need. We organized art auctions and used the proceeds to buy food and other necessities.


Then, after the confinement that lasted in France from mid 2020 to mid 2022, the return to normalcy finally took place with the invitation of curator Simone Dibo Cohen to participate in the exhibition "ExodeS.” The exhibit ran from [July 1st to September 30th, 2022] in the French city of Saint Raphael.


In the rooms of the town hall of honor, Les asphodèles, I am currently exhibiting about ten photographs from the series "Chicken Hands" (2014) as well as another ten photographs in another room, from the series "Halo-Halo-Mix-Mix", (2019).


"ExodeS" brings together 85 artists from the Mediterranean basin and the international art scene, emerging or confirmed who are the salt of our time. “ - From the website of the City of Saint Raphael (https://www.ville-saintraphael.fr/exodes).

Ryan Arbilo with three pieces from his "Chicken Hands" series at the ExodeS Exhibition in Saint Raphael, France

Among the exhibits that you have held or participated in, which is the most memorable for you and why?


The most unforgettable for me was when I held an exhibit at the most prestigious museum in Paris, La Maison Européenne de la Photographie (LAMEP) in 2016. I felt so proud to be the first Filipino who had a photo exhibit there.


How do you keep your creative juices flowing? Where do you find inspiration to do what you do?


I find my inspiration in the harsh conditions of my compatriots who have emigrated abroad to support their families. My mission as a Filipino artist is to bring them to light, those who live in the shadows and whom no one sees. It is an artist's work that I would call socio-political.



The artist with photos from his "Halo-halo" series at the Exodes Exhibition in Saint Raphael, France

What is keeping you busy at the moment? What can we expect from you in the next few months?


I am currently working on a piece that is close to my heart. It’s still untitled, but it will be a canvas of about 4 x 10 meters and will be composed of several floor cloths sewn together on which will be printed the black marks of the hands of Filipino cleaning women whose work tool it is.


What does your work stand for as an artist?


My work is a political act of denouncing the social injustice in the Philippines that forces my compatriots to leave their country and their families. I would like to change this by raising the awareness of the leaders who alone can improve the economic situation of our wonderful country.


Find out more about Ryan at ryanarbilo.com. You can also follow him on Instagram Ryanarbilo711