Art couple mixes own styles in collab

In Photo: Tenant III, Kris Abrigo, 24x24 in, acrylic on canvas and Sharp teeth, Smart mouth, Soleil Ignacio, 70cm x 50cm, hand-embellished archival print on 100-percent cotton paper

Twenty-seven-year-old visual artists Kris Abrigo and Soleil Ignacio have been together for seven years. Of the many things they share in common as a couple—including age, a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of the Philippines Diliman and an obsession for cats—artistic style is not of them.

Artists Kris Abrigo and Soleil Ignacio in their micro studio vignette, styled with Habitat furniture and accessories

On the one hand, Abrigo’s works pop out both in size and color. He creates sprawling murals of geometric figures where lines zig and zag in calculated measure, creating depth that play with the audience’s mind, while their focus remains guided by the pieces’ engaging vibrancy. “[My works] are actually more sociopolitical, pero hindi obvious,” Abrigo said. “In terms of visual inspiration, however, there are elements of architecture, interior design and street art.”

This style paved Abrigo’s breakthrough in 2012 with his first solo show at the Vinyl on Vinyl Gallery, en route to several mural projects for private commissions, in and out of the country.

On the other hand, Ignacio’s creations are muted and relaxed. She prefers illustrating concrete subjects, particularly the expressive human female form, replete with soft curves that evoke tenderness and conviction, ambiguity and elegance. “I like doing fluid lines,” Ignacio said. “Kapag male body, stiff kasiPero kapag female, I can play with the curves a lot.”

Ignacio started drawing women at a young age, starting with The Little Mermaid’s Ariel to Sailor Moon, and continued through college when she got introduced to the works of known female-drawing artists James Jean and Audrey Kawasaki. She developed her own style and became a fashion illustrator who has worked with a number of global companies.

Concrete pets, Kris Abigo, series of 8, 7-9 in, concrete, epoxy and acrylic paint

Despite their varying styles, the couple join hands for an exhibit with modern European home brand Habitat Manila for its first collaborations program—an initiative where the London label provides an avenue for emerging talents to showcase their works alongside Habitat’s pieces.

“Artistry and personal style is expressed most comfortably in our homes and most private spaces,” Habitat Director Walter Lim said in a statement. “We are delighted that Soleil and Kris are sharing a part of their personal story through this beautiful collection, featuring Habitat pieces that appeal to their excellent tastes.”

The exclusive collection, available for the whole month of July at Habitat Bonifacio Global City,

puts up nine canvas works and eight sculpture series from Abrigo and six paintings from Ignacio. The pieces are displayed in a micro studio vignette that the couple styled personally with the brand’s furniture and accessories.

“We recreated our own studio, or our life as a creative couple and how we work together,” Ignacio said, adding she and her boyfriend have actually been sharing the same studio in Kapitolyo, Pasig, for four years.

The two said they’ve used their own mediums for the collaboration and sought harmony in colors to unify their creations. Abrigo said, “Halimbawa, ’yung kulay ng couch niya, naging color ng floor ko. ’Yung orange na ’yan [pointing to one of Ignacio’s paintings] hindi ko ’yan ginagamit usually, pero kinuha ko pa rin para ma-unify ’yung buong piece.”

For her part, Ignacio also made adjustments and used earthy tones for a change, which were inspired by Habitat’s pieces. Her collection also focuses more on interior spaces, with her female subjects “lounging inside a room, just relaxing and doing mundane things”.

Of course, there are pieces that are independent from the brand partnership and are inspired more by the artists’ personal lives. One of which is Abrigo’s work, titled Concrete Pets.

He explained the piece was drawn out of their frustration of not being able to bring their pet cat in the studio, in fear of their works and materials being messed up. That’s why he created a representation of it with an abstract four-legged sculpture that stands seven to nine inches made of concrete, epoxy and acrylic paint.

The piece, which appears to be stacks of half-painted concrete blocks, also delivers a subliminal sociopolitical jab. “It is inspired by local architecture na sobrang dominant sa Pilipinas, which is ‘Slum Architecture’. ’Yun ang dinadaanan namin papunta sa studio. Makikita mo ’yung mga unfinished na bahay, unfinished na walls, puro hollow blocks. Pinaint ko ’yung isang part, kasi minsan interior lang nape-piant, exterior hinahayaan na lang nila. Natural din kasi sa Pilpino na mediocre ’yung mga bagay-bagay.”

Aside from Abrigo and Ignacio, Lim, the Habitat Director, said they are “looking forward to having more collaborations with originals minds, through the Habitat design program”.

Habitat Manila opened in 2015 and is located at the third level of Abenson at the corner of 5th Avenue and 28th Street in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.