IARFA student gives art tribute to Hidilyn Diaz

FEU Advocate
August 21, 2021 10:02

By Mary Licel Biscocho and Ma. Isabela D. Manacsa

Far Eastern University Institute of Architecture and Fine Arts (FEU-IARFA) student-artist John Ken Gomez earned the public's eye after being featured as the artist behind the artwork exhibited inside Olympic Gold Medalist Hidilyn Diaz' condominium unit.

Weeks after Diaz's historic win in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, various public and private associations pledged their grants to express their laud towards the athlete. Among these is a P14-million fully furnished unit from the Megaworld Corporation which earned recognition from the public. Apart from its exquisite interior, the charcoal painting displayed in its living room also drew attention as it captured the momentous scene of winning the Philippines' first Olympic gold in 97 years.

According to the 21-year-old artist, the Megaworld team commissioned him to create an artwork that would be put up as the center of Diaz's new home. The company gave him a limited time of only two days to complete his artwork but despite this challenge, he decided to rise up and face this test head-on.

"I feel so honored and pressured as well. Imagine creating a piece for our first Olympic gold medalist, that is one for the books for me as an artist and as a Filipino," Gomez told FEU Advocate.

He added that he wanted to capture the emotion and vulnerability of the athlete which was vividly shown in her winning moment. Moreover, he'd like to deem the painting as a reminder of how inspirational Diaz is.

"Her win is a beacon of hope especially right now that we are in the middle of a pandemic. It gives us a positive outlook to move forward and continue with our lives," he furthered.

Flair as a Student

Bearing his zest for art at a very young age, Gomez shared how art became his safe haven where he can freely speak and express himself. Growing up, his artistic passion sparked brightly and more so, expanded his vision of what life is beyond what he thought reality was.

Aside from charcoal paintings, acrylics on canvas and vellum have also been his media in illustrating different themes and portraits to hone his creative flair. Sketches of empowered women have been evident in Gomez's works. Recently, he illustrated Miss Universe Philippines 2020 Rabiya Mateo, social media stars Ivana Alawi, Bella Poarch, and Valkyrae, and actress Liza Soberano as Alexandra Trese from the Netflix series “Trese” which was later recognized by the actress herself.

He also exhibited landscapes and Filipino reimaginations of Sandro Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" and Leonardo da Vinci's "Monalisa" which gathered thousands of engagements on social media.

Aside from creating artworks as his hobby, Gomez has been selling his pieces and accepting commissions which, according to him, grew when he began sharing creative content online. He then shared that his most recent work featuring Diaz further widened his reach to people as an artist.

Gomez showing his commissioned artwork of 2020 Tokyo Olympic Gold Medalist, Hidilyn Diaz

The Birth of a Public Figure

After being introduced as the artist behind the famous artwork, numerous media platforms like the Manila Bulletin, Spot.ph, and ABS-CBN's TV Patrol featured Gomez. He was also able to personally speak with Diaz which created a lot of noise, sparking tons of opportunities for the young artist.

On August 13, he starred on the cover page of Brandman, the digital magazine of Brandsasia Channel, a digital business lifestyle channel that features brands, business experts, and entrepreneurs.

These various exposures established his brand as a content creator. According to him, sharing his pieces online builds his purpose to be an inspiration for young artists. Hence, having the privilege to be looked up to by aspiring creatives becomes a responsibility for him.

"I want to make them feel that I am once like them and they are part of my growth," he added.

As an artist, he believes that creating and sharing his art online will be able to inspire other young and promising artists like himself. He aims to make them feel that they are just like him who are in the constant pursuit of growth. 

Steering Growth 

Adhering to such morals, Gomez understands that it is crucial for an artist to uphold a principle by being socially aware and having integrity which shows in the quality of their work. He gripped onto this virtue as he shared how he once declined a request to include one specific politician in his art piece.

"Stand your ground. You are not only an artist, but a Filipino," he stressed.

The young artist also recognizes how Diaz’s win sparked a long-buried conversation of how the government was oblivious towards the local athletes and how they were undervalued. As he spoke regarding the issue, he highlighted how discussions like this should serve as a reminder to the Filipinos to let them recognize how important their votes are and that they should be critical of who they should give their votes to. 

As a content creator with thousands of followers, Gomez spoke to young aspiring creatives and encouraged them to value every ladder of their progress as artists.

"It is inevitable to compare yourself to other people, but always remember that like you, they also went through a lot to be where they are right now," he advised.

Gomez is currently taking up a Bachelor of Fine Arts Major in Visual Communication. After dedicating his teenage years to exploring and honing his artistic capabilities, he's firm to continue his career of being an artist and further expand his potential in various fields like media, film, and fashion. A man with vision and integrity, John Ken Gomez is a testament to how perseverance and morals exalt oneself in a wide spectrum of odds and probabilities. His dedication led him to be a pride― a sense of honor that can't ever be effaced. 

(Photo courtesy of John Ken Gomez)