“Art is my refuge from the harsh realities of life…” - James Abayon Lolo.
Resibo Icons Online Exhibit is the first exhibit of young Davaoeño artist James Abayon Lolo. Using ballpoint pens and old receipts as his medium, James has drawn the portraits of inspiring universal icons from different fields like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Jose Rizal, James Dean, and Audrey Hepburn among others.
James thought of drawing on old receipts because he thought it would be unique and it would be his small contribution in recycling wasted things. “After our purchases we usually just dispose of our receipts, I thought it would give some value to use them in my artworks instead of just throwing them away,” reveals the young artist.
Born to a banana farmer in Maco, Davao de Oro, James grew up in an environment with meager resources but this did not dim his creative spirit and love for art. A self-taught artist, James began drawing as a young boy and developed his interest using any medium available. Eventually, he would make his freehand sketches using a ballpoint pen.
James became an online sensation last year with his multi-portrait sketch of Vincent Van Gogh. His inspired work, which he did while in school waiting for his next class, even garnered a comment from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Since then, James sudden recognition online has brought him and his family countless blessings. People would send him gifts, usually art materials and this has enabled James to do part-time work as a home-based artist. His father’s income as a banana plantation laborer is barely enough to make ends meet but now with commissioned artworks, James is even able to help pay for school expenses for his younger sister. and with each commissioned work done, James grows more confident of his art and his outlook on life becomes more positive.
“…I feel comfortable when I do art…it’s my way of expressing my thoughts, my experiences both good and bad and it relieves me entirely after…I am inspired to draw because I love the way it helps me. Also I draw for my family, I am doing art to support them,” says James who is only 21 and the eldest of four siblings. He is currently on his 3rd year of college studying to be a vocational teacher.
According to James, his favorite artist is Vincent Van Gogh, not only because of his brilliant artistry but also because he sees a similarity in the life struggles of the famous Dutch impressionist artist with his own life situation. Aside from the hard life he grew up in, James would often encounter people who looked down on him and this also led to his having a sad perception on life at an early age. Life was difficult for him especially during the times when no one trusted his capabilities. So, to get recognition for his artworks was quite unexpected for James, “My parents are not into art at all… I am very lucky and thankful to God that he gave me this gift, right now I still cant believe it and I am thankful to those people who support me.”
As an artist, James likes to explore different mediums in both painting and sketching which led him to focus on using the ballpoint pen as his medium. The techniques he uses for his ballpoint artworks are hatching and scribbling.
After finishing his college degree, James hopes to be able to formally study fine arts. James looks forward to making bigger sized artworks and using other mediums. He hopes that people will be able to relate to his artworks in the future. In the meantime, James continues to practice his art by accepting commissions which he does at home in Davao.