Soft Boiled Landscapes

“I found myself gradually moving away from representations. My usual houses slowly melted. I have delved into painting landscapes and objects out of pure imagination without anything to represent in this world, I believe, yet are still familiar.”

Soft Boiled Landscapes,a series of twenty-three pieces of surreal paintings from visual artist and photographer Teo Esguerra, is a surprising body of work that strongly showcases a progression in his practice and techniques as a painter. Evidently influenced by Dali in terms of the irrational landscapes and intimate structures that reside in his paintings, Esguerra continues to create otherworldly yet familiar scenes with uncanny objects that occupy his subconscious. 

His recent workshop with Gary-Ross Pastrana helped him explore and understand his morale as an artist by adopting new techniques in thought processes, which he translated and demonstrated in a culminating group exhibition titled First Lesson/ an afterschool special. Soft Boiled Landscapes follow suit, this time, strongly affirming his play with personal memory, experience and thoughts.

Known for painting over his photographs, the exhibition cements the artist’s identity employing the same darkroom techniques but with a transcended state of mind. Esguerra’s photos hold the realities he cannot control but the paint has the power to alter the impressions of his perspectives.  His approach is instinctive and more meditative than ever appropriating automatism when painting.

While his previous successful exhibitions, Beach Houses (2016) and Migrations (2017), feature dark and gritty textures, Soft Boiled Landscapes has smoother backdrops but retains the gravelly structures that have now melted. Overall, the exhibition invites us to release the representations that we are looking for in his works and celebrate the process of transformation Esguerra is undergoing.  


Visual artist and photographer Teo Esguerra’s second solo exhibition, Migrations, is his ode to an unknown future.  It is an introspection of his state as an artist that hasn’t completely overcome self-doubt yet is bravely forging an eloquent path towards baring himself through his art.

Migrations consists of thirteen pieces of artworks that are purely confessional in tone and nature. One of his subjects, the Bird House, is a remnant of his previously successful exhibition, Beach Houses. Along with the migratory birds as his central subjects, Esguerra transforms into both – the fragile avian species that knows its destination; and the structure that is the dwelling place of the latter.

But while the artist relates himself to his subjects, he is still uncertain of his own destination.He hasn’t been completely uprooted from his childhood home and still holds an undeniable fear of failure.  He treats the existence of his creations and the act of creating as a temporary resting place and activity before he proceeds to his next endeavor.

As Esguerra digs deeper into his own personal well and exposes himself, viewers are invited to peek into a real birdhouse. The artist intentionally created the birdhouses asan interactive experience of peeking into the future. Each structure contains aresolute image of different migratory birds taken by Esguerra during his trip to Japan. Inside one of the birdhouses is a surprising appearance of personal artifacts that was once a physical part of the artist and his significant other.

Migrations displays a“coming of age” aura as Esguerra continues to refine his form and intentions. He believes that art should always be personal and intends to explore this territory as long as he can. The dark and gritty presentation of his works are only a façade to his deep character and high hopes. 


Beach Houses is a collection of paintings of houses on beach photographs that explore the artist's poetry of his fascination and perspective of people and their personalities as they embody a structure that often feel safe, open, intimate yet at times unfamiliar, uncertain and disconnected -- regardless of his relationship with them.

Esguerra's years of photographing family members, friends and strangers in his own safe environment and sojourn in different and unfamiliar places unconsciously unveiled an understanding of his purpose for making art through relating to people backed with his strong family ties. His personal struggles with staying true to his artistic work are slowly coming to terms, especially with painting,thus producing this collection.

The acrylic-painted houses are superimposed on Esguerra’s small prints personally hand-printed in the darkroom while the bigger ones are archival prints from alocal printing shop. They don’t necessarily represent any particular architectural style or period. The sea, on the other hand, acts as the houses’ emotionalbackdrop. As Esguerra relates it, “Thesea symbolizes life in general, vast and uncertain.”

The interrelated pieces of artworks reach to find its own home in us. In BurningHouse, Esguerra depicts the ashen grey house by the rocky beach as a physicaland inner sense of an individual’s igniting passion. Bird House resonate anopen yet temporary refuge for those yearning for freedom. Flying House relatesclosely to the artist.

Beach Houses invites us to examine our relationship with ourselves and others withpure intentions and without prejudice. Esguerra’s paintings provide a sense ofrelief and familiarity amidst its dark tone that mirrors the solace orambiguousness we feel from our personal encounters.

We are all like houses drifting in a beautiful and scary open sea. 

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