Immigrant artist connects with themes of homelessness and heart

October 24, 2018

By Jeniffer AcKerman, Vancouver Sun

Walking the halls of The Junction is like walking through the heart and mind of Patrick Fernandez.

Quirky, Picasso-like portraits adorn the walls. In some, the faces are surrounded by aquatic-like foliage. Others dwell in green forests surrounded by wildlife. Sensible images mix with surreal scenes.

A man rides a fish in the sky, preparing to throw a red-lightning bolt. Atop one head sits a shanty town crowned in crooked and drooping power lines.

A theme begins to emerge. Depictions of heart and home permeate the work.

“Home is not just a structure, but the sense of belonging that we always want to feel,” said Fernandez.

An artist from the Philippines, Fernandez has been a painter for 14 years. He moved to Canada two years ago — away from a career as a full-time artist and away from his home.

“I had this feeling of disconnect,” he said. “I felt like being away from home was so hard and I felt homesick most of the time. That’s when the inspiration came, doing the show which I titled HOME.”

His exhibit opened Sept. 9 at The Junction — a community-focused creative space that offers hair styling services, massage therapy and showcases local artists, musicians, photographers and designers.

The art attempts to address issues of homelessness and show that inspiration can be found amongst the struggle to find a place to call home.

“When I moved here, I came from a third-world country where homelessness is a big problem,” said Fernandez. “The perception when I came to Canada (was), it’s a first-world country, I thought it’s not a big issue.”

But when he finally walked the streets and saw the truth, he said his heart melted.

“When I started working, then I knew that the cost of living is too high, that you really have to work your ass off to live and to survive,” he said.

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