Interview: Artist Dina Gadia
Reimagining materials into works of art is something this Philippine born artist is known for. We meet up to learn more about the artist and her work
Born in Pangasinan, Philippines in 1986, Dina Gadia currently lives and works in Manila. She graduated from Far Eastern University, Manila with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, majoring in Advertising in 2006. She began exhibiting her works in group shows in 2005.
Since then, she has had several solo exhibitions in the Philippines. Silverlens Gallery presented ‘Primo Salvo in Vibracolor’ in 2012, ‘Convenient Culture Prop’ in 2013 in its Makati City space, as well as ‘Adaptable to New Redundancies’ in the same year in its Gillman Barracks space in Singapore, and more recently ‘At Odds with the Visual’ this year in April back in Makati City. Philippines-based Blanc Gallery organized ‘How Does That Grab You Darling’ back in 2010, and more recently ‘Let’s Talk about Feelings’ in 2014.
Dina’s most recent contemporary art solo shows have been held farther abroad – ‘Non Mint Copy’ opened in May 2015 at Owen James Gallery in Brooklyn, New York, and ‘Select the Right Bad Picture’ opened the following month at Clear Edition & Gallery in Tokyo, Japan.
Dina primarily works in the medium of collage. Her works are sophisticated re-imaginations of found materials including images and texts from comic books, movie posters and advertisements that are composed into coherent and compelling narratives.
When and how did you decide to become a full-time artist? What have been significant successes and challenges you’ve faced since taking the plunge?
I decided to become a full-time artist when I could not balance my day job schedule as a graphic designer and being a part-time artist anymore. I was not making much in either roles, and thought that I might as well gamble on having more time to focus on making my own art.
Could you walk us through the process of creating a collage work? What comes first: the concept or the materials? Do you find yourself first drawn to a particular image, then working around it to create the artwork?
It is usually the image that gives me an idea. I select the images that I like, then proceed to work on using them to create a work.
Could you talk about the technical aspects of putting together a collage work? How do you put different pieces together into a single artwork so seamlessly?
The best weapon of any collagist is an X-Acto knife. But it is the use of paper with comparable texture that makes the final product look seamless when these disparate elements are combined. If the paper is not the same or not almost the same, cuts and inserts are usually visible, although I do not mind if this happens.
Some of your collage works feature text while others do not. How do you decide whether to include text or not, and how does text add to your work?
Texts sometimes inform the work, but can sometimes contradict the work too. I treat text as a potential element for all my work, whether as a distraction or as something that balances the work. I do not use texts if I feel the work is okay without them.
Your artworks include not only collage works, but also acrylic on wood e.g. ‘New Nadir: Ventures on Unchallenged Imagination’ (2013), and acrylic on canvas e.g. ‘How to Read A Painting’ (2014). Is there a medium that you are most drawn to, and/or do you wish to experiment with other mediums?
I usually work with painting and collage but sometimes there are ideas that are more effective in a different medium. I try to work with other mediums depending on the idea.
Your artworks have fleshed out titles such as ‘Bad Innovation: Pointless Riffing on the Same Theme’ (2013) and ‘The Art and the Viewer Trying to be Critical’ (2015). Do you take a long time to come up with the title for each artwork? How important are titles for the understanding of your artworks?
I take time in deciding on the titles. Sometimes the title sums up the work and also informs what it is trying to say, which can be to convey something in a straightforward manner or to ridicule.
How did being shown at Pulse Miami Art Fair in 2011 with Silverlens change things for you as an artist? Could you talk about what it has been like to have solo exhibitions abroad in Brooklyn and Tokyo?
When my work at Pulse Miami Art Fair received good reviews, I began to feel like a legitimate artist!
I do not see myself as a confident person so having solo exhibitions outside Manila gives me confidence that I may be doing something right in my work. I was pretty nervous with my recent shows in Tokyo and Brooklyn because they put my works in a different setting, and expose them to a different audience.
What are you working on right now?
Right now, I am fixing up my work area, sorting out print materials I do not need anymore so I can start working fresh.
Based on your own experience as an artist, what advice would you give to young artists just starting out?
Like everyone says, keep working.
Text by Nadya Wang
This story first appeared in Art Republik.