This private residence houses an art school that breaks all the rules
Maxine Syjuco comes from a family that pioneered Filipino postmodernism. Her father is known for literary hybrids and her mother is a performance artist. Her elder sister designs accessories. Art runs in their blood, and this four-story 400-square-meter dwelling serves as a depository of the family’s works.
When people hear the word “gallery,” they automatically perceive it as a big white space with paintings on the walls. But the family seeks to open viewers’ eyes to all kinds of genres, from installation art to performance art to video. The front facade, mostly glass, deftly displays the artworks and sparks curiosity among the passers-by even amid the neighboring upscale homes and large trees. The walls inside are stark-white; it is the art and lush outdoor greenery that bring color and warmth. The bathrooms are surprisingly in black, illuminated with well-placed lamps that create dimension. Everything in the house, from the furniture to the lighting to the dividers, are curated like they’re artworks in themselves.
There is an area especially allotted for her art classrooms. CuriousSetting documents her passion for the craft in this interview:
What do you do?
I’m a full-time artist. I run an art school for children, and I work tirelessly on my own art during the rest of the day.
How would you define your work?
I define my work as a pilgrimage to the human soul. Through art, I find that I’m able to claw at the many layers of “self ”— dissevering the surfaces that ultimately lead to the core of what makes us human.
What was the first art piece you ever made?
When I was 5 or 6, I sculpted a clay mug with the form of my dad’s face kneaded into it.
What time do you like to work? From sunset to sunrise. I work best when I’m alone with my thoughts. Give me a glass of water, good music, a book or two, and I can live inside my studio forever.
Why teach kids art?
Children make the most imaginative artists. Without pretenses, they freely view the world as one gigantic playground. What better way to grow up than by realizing that the freedom to be exactly who you are is a right that we must fight for?
What’s the first thing you teach in art class?
The nonexistence of rules when it comes to art-making. I ask my students to be openhearted, open-minded, and boldly courageous in creating expressions of themselves. Life