Purveyor of Knowledge and Emerging Publisher of Philippine Art
May 1, 2017



Jerson Samson in his Antipolo Studio


Jerson Samson's Doon Po Sa Amin

by: Christiane L. de la Paz

November-December 2014--Jerson Samson, during his freshman year at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts (UP CFA), started making a name for himself when his entries, Tukso and Nakaligtaang Kalikasan were finalists at the 27th Shell National Students Art Competition in 1994. He played his cards right that in 1997, his piece, Alay 1 was awarded honorable mention at the Metrobank Foundation Young Painters Annual and his other entry, Pasasalamat kina Lolo at Lola was the Juror’s Choice at the Art Association of the Philippines Annual Art Competition Representational Category. In 1999, he was among the Top 5 awardees at the Philip Morris Philippine Art Awards which led him to exhibit his piece, Nagsisikip na ding-ding during the Asean Art Awards at the National Gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. All these times, Samson had given the art viewing public a peek of the Antipolo neighborhood he grew up in where from a house apposite, from an upstair room, at no great distance, the inhabitants’ bustling activities and domestic interiors scenes were free-to-view--his personal and private response to primeval scenes he nonchalantly espied and depicted using saturated colors. In 2002, he opened his first one-man exhibition, Tahanan at the Boston Gallery where his ten paintings of house exteriors and interiors that showed the public lives of common Filipino families were sold out. Samson broached a new approach of painting crowds out in the street watching political and religious happenings in his show, Masa Para sa Masa in 2007 at the Big and Small Gallery. Chief among his works were Erap, Pacquiao and Sale: Window Shopping. Masses’ activities and scatological humor continued to mark some of Samson’s newer outputs as echoed in his Hunger Strike and Tibe, Tubol and Purarat series yet he often went back to painting his roomy interiors


You have not completed your fine arts education in UP Diliman, what happened to you at those times?   

I was an undergraduate in 1998.  After completing my thesis, I started becoming a full-time artist. Excited na excited na akong makapag-show at maka-sali sa lahat ng art competitions at maka-buo ng body of works na magrerepresent sa akin.


Ala-ala (1997)

Who are your contemporaries in UP?

Dennis Gonzales, Elmer Roslin, Ronald Hilario, Anton Del Castillo, Julius Samson and Juanito Torres.


Pasasalamat kina Amang at Inang (1997)

Why did Julius become your batchmate?

First time ko pong nag TDT (UP Fine Arts Talent Determination Test) hindi po ako pumasa, kasi hindi ko po natapos yung ibang artworks. Pinaganda ko ng todo at di ko namalayan yung oras. I waited for one year para mag-TDT ulit. Noong second time ko na, kasabay ko na si Julius. Ang maganda noon, yung exam eksakto ulit noong nakaraang year. Kaya ang dali na para sa akin. Tapos si Julius nabigyan ko na ng tip kaya madali kaming makapasa.


Ang Diwa ng Pinoy Nga Naman (1997)

Did you have any rising stars in your batch?

Madami kasing magagaling. Ang naging tanong ay kung sino ang tatagal. Ako po at si Elmer Roslin, desidido po kaming magpakamonghe sa aming studios at maging siniseryosong manlilikha ng sining.


Baryo Tres (1998)

Did you apply for a job when you left school?

I never applied for any job. Full-time artist talaga ang ginawa kong career.


Mala-Kalbaryong Karma (1998)

How did you get by at that time?


I solely relied on the sales of my works. Malaking tulong din po sa akin yung mga art competitions, lalo na po pag naka-pasok ako sa top.


Naghihintay (1998)

You first entered the art scene in 1998, what is the status of the art scene during those times?

Madaming opportunities sa mga batang artists na tulad ko. Gaya na lamang ng mga malalaking art competitions na nagbibigay ng malaking premyo at nagiging daan pra makilala sa art scene. Student pa lang ako sa U.P. sumasali na ako ng group shows.


Nagsisikip Na Dinding (1999)

Who were professors in UP?

Dalawa lang po ang talagang tumatak sa pagiging manlilikha ko ng sining, si Sir Roberto Chabet at si Sir Roberto Feleo.


Wakas (1999)

Tell me about your first exhibit.

Ang natatandaan ko lang yung ALAY 1,a year-end group show of Boston Gallery. Tuwang-tuwa ako at nakitaan ng potential ang gawa ko mula kay Dr. Cuanang at sa ibang nakakatandang artists sa akin. Syempre, masaya din ako at nabenta ko ang gawa ko.


Kaarawan ni Inay (1999)

What is the painting that you showed in this exhibit?

Ang title po nung piyesa na isinali ko nung “Alay 1” ay ang aking winning piece sa Metrobank Young Painters Annual 1997. “Reunion” ito po yung panahon na sinisimulan ko pa lang yung mga interior paintings ko.


Lipat Tahanan (2000)

In your first exhibit, were you successful in terms of visitors or financial success?

Madami pong visitors na dumating noong 1st man show ko kahit maulan. Madami din pong nabaneta kaya tuwang-tuwa ako.


Damay (2000)

What do you think would have happened if not a single work was sold that night? Would you have continued?

Wala pong magbabago. Mas lalo ko pong pagbubutihin. Kasi malaking chcallenge kapag walang nakapansin ng trabaho ko.
What was the first gallery that carried your works?
Boston Gallery.


Tahanan (2000)

Did you find it difficult to offer your works for exhibition in Boston?

Hindi po ako nahirapan. From the start pa lang ng career ko si Dr. Cuanang na po ang talagang sumuporta sa akin. Wala pa po akong masyadong kilalang galleries noon. Boston Gallery lang po. Kaya hanggang ngayon, loyal pa din po ako sa Boston Gallery.


Kampo Gwapo (2000)

For the ideas of your own exhibitions, how do you try to be different in concepts and executions?


Nagpapaka totoo lang ako sa alam ko. Pinapakita ko lang yung nangyayari sa paligid ko, lalong-lalo na yung immediate surrounding ko sa Antipolo, mga experiences ko yung mga pinapakita ko sa mga likha ko.


Paupahan (2001)

When you are in the process of working, who is the viewer you have in mind?

Mga fellow artists lalong-lalo na yung mga nakakatanda sa akin. Importante sa akin ang mga kumento at approval nila. Kung okay sa kanila ang gawa ko, siguradung pasado ang mga gawa ko sa viewers at patron ng sining.


Teritoryo Gwapo (2001)

Do you have an idea of the profile of collectors who buy your works?


Dati meron akong listahan ng kumukuha ng works ko pero ngayon wala na. Nababalitaan ko na lang minsan sa gallery kung sino ang kumuha.


Kwentong Barbero (2001)

Who among the older artists whom you consult with?

Wala po. Ang ginagawa ko lang po, research at bili po ako ng bili ng mga libro. Lalo na mga local and international contemporary art books and magazines para ma-update ako and malaman ko din kung nakakasabay pa ako.


Bagong Salta (2001)

Did you ever have any mentors who helped you early in your career?

Dr. Cuanang, Ferdie Montemayor, Salingpusa, Sir Feleo and Sir Chabet.


Reunion (2002)

Are you a member of any artist’s group?

Pinangalanan kami dati ni Dr. Cuanang na KUTING kasi baby daw kami ng groupong SALINGPUSA. Hindi din kami masyadong naging grupo talaga dahil nagkanya-kanya kami. Pero, proud ako na binansagan kaming KUTING dahil kinakitaan kami ng potential.


Karera (2002)

What do you think are the advantages of being part of an artist’s group?

Madaling makabuo ng exhibit.


Bituin (2002)

How many works are required from an artist to have a show?

Wala naman pong requirement basta the “best” ang kalabasan ng mga piyesa.Pero lagi akong may target, at least ten pieces na malalaki.


Kabet (2003)

And the disadvantage of being part of a group?

Paminsan-minsan may kontrahan sa mga ideas.


Tae (2003)

Now when there are some artistic discussions or debates taking place, are you the type to be pushy with your own ideas or you are the silent type who would just go with the flow of the majority?

Kapag may discussions, I just share my ideas. Pero bihira po yoon dahil hindi po ako masyadong masalita. Kapag tinanong lang ako or nahingan ng opinion ako magsasalita pero all ears ako palagi dahil lagi akong naghahanap ng bagong idea.

Rated R (2003)

Have you ever won any important awards?

1997 and 1998 Metrobank competition, honorable mention ako. In 1997, Juror's Choice in the Art Association of the Philippines. Honorable mention in PLDT, Shell Competition Honorable Mention din ako. Pero yung pinaka-gusto kong napanalunan ay yung Top 5 Philip Morris Philippine Art awards noong 1999 kasi for the first time nakapag-abroad ako para i-represent ang Pilipinas sa isang international art competition.


Bahay Namin (2004)

What country did you go to?

Sa Malaysia po. ASEAN Art Awards na ginanap sa National Museum ng Malaysia. Ang title po ng piyesa ko ay “Nagsisikip na ding-ding”.


Kulang (2004)

Do you think a painter can become commercially successful without receiving any award in his career?

Yes. Hindi mo kailangang manalo sa mga competitions although may tulong din ang competitions. Basta original yung idea mo at hinog, mapapansin ka.

Bisita (2004)

What is your view on originality?

Magiging original ka kapag istorya ng buhay mo at experiences mo ang ikinukwento mo sa mga likha mo. Sa technique naman, laging may pinagbabasehan na existing genre. Hanggang sa maka-develop ka ng sayo. Dun magiging original, kapag tuloy tuloy mo nang ginawa at nailayo mo na sa pinagbasehan mo.

Bahag Ang Buntot (2005)

Would you say that you are commercially successful?

Not really. May panahon na mahirap mabentahan lalo na’t paiba-iba ka ng ginagawa at eksperimento. Tapos may panahon naman na buhos ang biyaya, dire-diretso.


Spolairium (2005)

Whose style are you drawn to painting during your student years?

Sa grupong SALINGPUSA ang una kong mga naging references.

Instinct (2005)

Can you describe your early works?

Salingpusang-salingpusa daw ang hitsura ng mga trabaho ko. Parang Onib, parang Dalena. Tapos parang Ferdie Montemayor daw. Totoo naman lahat ito dahil naging impluwensya ko silang tatlo.


Souvenir (2006)

Any other painters who had an influence on your art?

Roberto Feleo, Roberto Chabet, Botong Francisco at Vicente Manansala.


Virgin (2006)

What about foreign influences?

van Gogh, Gerard Garuste, Lucian Freud, Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Roy Lichenstein.


Jugjugan Na (2006)

What exactly do you draw from their works?

Karamihan po yung ideas nila. Pinag-iisipan ko kung papaano sila nakalikha ng ganong artworks at techniques.


Pacman (2007)

Who handles the business side of your profession?

Ako at yung gallery na nag-rerepresent sa akin. Walang gallery na exclusive na hinahawakan ako ngayon.


Politika (2007)

What are the factors that you consider in pricing your works?

I follow the law of supply and demand. Hindi po ako nagtataas lalo na kung napapannsin kong mahirap magbenta.


Erap (2007)

What has been the best compliment said about you or your work?

Pinoy na pinoy daw ang gawa ko. Pag dinala mo daw sa ibang bansa, alam mong Pilipino ang gumawa.


IKEA Experience (2008)

What have you been criticized of?

Wala akong naaalala. Wala naman nakapag-sabi pa sa akin.

Tibe, Tubol and Purarat Series (2008)

You are known for your paintings of interiors in isometric view. How did you come up with this idea?

Nakita ko lang po ung idea sa mismong loob ng bahay namin at sa paligid namin. Ang pinipinta ko kasi ay yung paligid namin at mga kapit bahay ko. Siguro ang naging kakaiba lang sa mga paintings ko tinanggal ko yung mga ding-ding nila. Para kang nang-boboso. Tawang-tawa ako sa idea ng pang-boboso. Dahil parang nang boboso din ang mga tumitingin sa mga paintings ko.


Tibe, Tubol and Purarat Series (2008)

Your interiors make viewers claustrophobic.

Lumaki po kasi po ako sa lugar na masikip at siksikan. Normal lang po sa akin na ito ang ipinta.


Tibe, Tubol and Purarat Series (2008)

What would you say is your aim as a painter?


Mapakainin ako at ang pamilya ko ng mga paintings ko. Mabili ko lahat ng materyales ko para sa pantings ko. Sa ganitong paraan, makakalikha ako ng makabuluhang trabaho.


Balot--Pampatigas Tuhod (2009)

In 2007, you concentrated on painting dots.

In 2007, noong nag-show ako sa Big n Small Gallery, na-discover ko yung tuldok-tuldok or dot paintings ko. Hinde naman talaga tuldok yung mga nauna kong gawa. Maliliit na pahid or brush strokes lang ang mga ito at mga maliliit na tao. Tapos doon ko naiisip na parang tuldok nga silang tingnan sa malayuan. Kaya sinimplify ko pa, hanggang sa naging tuldok na talaga. Binalik ko lang ulit itong series ko na tuldok noong 2009. Tapos tuloy-tuloy ko nang ginagawa. Masarap kasing gawin, parang therapeutic.


Hunger Strike--Isaw (2009)

What are your other series?

Bukod sa dots and interiors, gumagawa din ako ng mga mixed media at experimental art works na minsan hinde ko na napapakita dahil hinde ko natapos. Tinutuloy ko lang iyong mga alam ko na at natutunan ko sa eskwela at yung mga natututunan ko sa aking sariling research, pagbabasa at ang aking walang humpay na paghahanap sa ibig sabihin ng buhay.


Hunger Strike--Betamax (2009)

What are some of your favorite works?

Marami na po akong nagustuhan sa mga ginawa ko. Gaya ng “Nagsisikip na ding-ding” winning piece ko sa Philip Morris 1999. Last year ang iba pang naging paborito ko ay ung “Sa ilalim ng iisang langit” na kasama sa exhibit namin sa NOVA Gallery. “Sayaw ng kamatayan” from Boston gallery at “Amen” from Vargas Museum show naman.


Hunger Strike--Adidas (2009)

Have you done a lot of commissioned works?

Madami na din po. Memorable po lalo na pag big projects. Yung sculpture and murals ko sa Expo Filipino noong 1996 or 1997. Yung latest kong mural sa lobby ng Resorts World Manila noong 2010.


Pagbabago (2010)

Let’s talk about documentation. Do you keep a digital file or records of your past and current works?

Nag- dodocument po ako ng trabaho ko pero dipo ako ganon kasipag. Tinutulungan ako nng kapatid ko at wife ko lalo na pag madami akong ginagawa. Pero madami na po akong nawalang files noong nasira ung computer namin.

Edsa Dos (2010)

Tell me more about your early life.

January 16, 1976 ang birthdate ko. Sa Antipolo ako pinanganak, sa bahay mismo namin. Kumadrona ang nagpaanak sa nanay ko. Bata pa lang ako mahilig na akong magbutingting ng kung ano-ano at mag- aakyat sa mga puno at mamitas ng prutas. Nagtatanim kami ng palay, mais at kamote nung bata pa ako. Kaya nakakarelate ako sa mga paintings ni Fernando Amorsolo at ni Botong Francisco tungkol sa kabukiran. Bata pa ako mahilig na akong mag-drawing at gumawa ng laruan mula sa putik.


Edsa (2010)

What are your other interests?

Art books, art magazines, motorcycles, animal/pets lalo na yung medyo exotic. Pitbull, mixed martial arts, food, cooking and planting.



Harvester of Sorrow (2011)

I understand you were into breeding pitbulls.


I’m still maintaining and breeding pitbulls. I breed them and use them for fighting. I know it’s brutal but I don’t care. The Philippine art scene is more brutal. What I love about the sport of dog fighting is the challenge and the science behind the breeding. And how to create the perfect fighting dogs. By the way, I own the 1st Philippine female grand champion – a 5-time winner. 2006 Dog of the year, my favorite and beloved Grand champion, Red.


Walang Puso (2011)

You paved the way for your younger brothers’ entry to the art scene. Did you motivate them to follow your preofession?

In a way, yes. Tinuro ko lang sa kanila na mag-isip sila ng bago at original para mapansin at maging successful sila. Pag may mga inquiries sila sa techniques, sa tema at art history, doon ako tumutulong.


Kill or Be Killed (2011)

What do you think are the strengths of your brothers?

Ang strength naming magkakapatid ay may kanya-kanya kaming na-develop na stilo na malayo isa’t isa. Kahit ako yung pinakamatanda sa kanila, hindi nila ginaya or inadopt ang stilo ko.

Traslasyon Details (2012)

No professional jealousy between you and your other siblings?

Wala pong ganyan sa aming magkakapatid. Mas natutuwa pa nga ako kapag napapansin ang mga likha nila at nananalo sa mga art competitions.


Traslasyon detail (2012)

You are now an established painter. What good did your profession do to your life?

Madali na pong mag buo at mag daos ng exhibit. Dahil madami ng kakilalang gallery. Gumaan po ang buhay namin. Hinde po gaya noong nag-aaral pa ako sa UP, hirap na hirap po kami noon. Masaya po ako at binubuhay ako at ang pamilya ko sa  sining ko. Sa tinatakbo ng pagkakataon, parang ang daming possibilities lalo na sa hinaharap sa tulong ng sining.



Aliens!!! Kunin Nyo Na Kameee (2012)