When asked whether art ever has to give way to functionality in architecture, Jonas Pacifico makes his disagreement palpable: “No, no. There’s a creative part of it and there’s a pragmatic part of it. They have to work hand in hand.”


PONT Studio welds architecture and sculpture together

Cebu-based architect Jonas Pacifico explores linear possibilities in metal.

  • July 25, 2017

  • Written by Angel Yulo

  • Photographed by Ed Simon

The line is creation. Such is the case for PONT Studio principal Jonas Pacifico. The Cebu-based architect who guides graphite and ink across sheets not only to draft elevations and sections but also sculptures he calls metal sketches. His desk is a repository for all kinds of endeavors, some needing meters of structural foundation and others just centimeters of wood to be mounted on. An array of outcomes—residences, furniture, sculptures—is proof the need to create is impartial to the disciplines.

PONT Studio Metal-sketch-Christ.
More than a timeless subject for art, Christ is particularly significant in the history of Cebu, the cradle of Christianity in the Philippines. Magellan’s arrival in 1521 marked Spain’s first attempt to Christianize inhabitants of the islands.

In 2014, Pacifico returned to Cebu after eight years of working abroad, including a stint at RSP in Singapore, to set up the small architecture and design firm. On their website, artwork is listed as one of their project categories. “I think it’s a dual experimentation, me as an architect and as an artist also. The process of making the metal sketches is similar to designing a building. It starts off with a plan, just like a blueprint for architecture, but it’s the process after that differs,” the architect says.

Sketching the figures takes a few hours with Pacifico not wanting to stop work until a sketch is complete. The drawing then makes its way to the welders who will work on a new piece for about two weeks. He classifies his sculptures into two categories: freehand and linear. The first type, as its name suggests, begin with pencil, paper, and some unrestrained drawing. Meanwhile, the linear sketches are digitally rendered from the get-go.

Some of Pacifico’s earlier pieces are displayed around Banilad Town Center (BTC) in Cebu City. Tubig’s Gripo, completed July 2015, hangs on the second floor of the left wing. Sprightly outlines and hatching make for a whimsical sketch of tree branches morphing into a faucet, calling the viewer to conserve our natural resources. An environmental streak continues in the Animal Collection, hanging on BTC’s right wing stairwell wall. “To me, the beauty comes from the story of each animal,” Pacifico says. The minimalist portraits are vector abstractions of animals that have impacted society such as Dolly the Sheep, the first cloned animal, and Cecil the Lion, the Southwest African lion that riled up netizens because a trophy hunter gunned him down in Zimbabwe’s national park.

A shift is seen in the more recent works which begins with a piece he created as a gift for his mom. Looking for something timeless as well as important to give his mother, Pacifico produced a metal sketch called Hesu Cristo in November 2015. Icons of Christ are ubiquitous in Filipino culture—in Catholic church and school tableaus, painted on the sides of jeepneys, home altars, by the gates and doors of residences, and even in some offices. Pacifico reinvigorates his subject with steel rods rising from the surface like a 3D vector, and metal mesh to add shadow and depth to face of Christ. Eyes tutored by video games and animation are drawn to the image. Someone saw this piece and suggested the architect make one of Christ’s mother, Mary, as well. By the end of 2015, Madonna & Child, another stylized representation, was completed.

Pacifico is often asked whether he considers himself more of an architect or an artist, to which he replies: “These co-exist in me. But it’s interesting though how, right now, the metal sketches are getting more attention than the structures I build.” But since his art is an annexation of his architecture and vice versa, viewers are exposed to the philosophy that guides his design, the same one that PONT Studio upholds—the perpetual strive to meet beauty and function. With more projects in the pipeline, including a furniture collection and two group art exhibits, Pacifico shows us that an architecture practice, just like the lines he draws, can bend, turn, and follow unconventional trajectories. 

PONT studio Metal-sketches-animal-series
The Animal series | Leftmost on the second row is a minimalist portrait of Pamana, the Philippine eagle (an endangered species) that was shot dead not long after he was released into the wild and spurred better conservation efforts.
The Draeiggon piece hangs in PONT bar, at the rooftop of the building where the PONT studio office is.

 

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