Racso Jugarap is an artist that specialises in creating works from wire.
I caught up with Racso for a behind-the-scenes look at his work.
When did you discover your passion for creating art?
Since I was little – I was already fond of creating stuff with my hands. I wouldn’t consider it art, or I didn’t consider myself an artist back then. I would just create.
It was taboo in my culture to be called an artist. But when I moved to Brussels in 2015, it changed my perspective on the idea of becoming an artist. So, in 2017, I became a full-time artist.
What drew you to working with wire?
I think my exposure to my father’s atelier in my younger days started it all – he was a jewellery designer.
I witnessed my father craft raw gold or silver into a piece of finished jewellery – I remember being amazed that he could do magic with his hands and tools alone.
That implanted the creative seed in me. He would let me play with his tools to create toys that I would give as gifts to my friends.
Back then, I wasn’t allowed to touch the precious metals, but they let me play with the metal wires that I would pick up from the floor – wires that they used to bind the casting materials during the jewellery making process. That studio became my playground. I guess that’s how I started working with the wires.
My father wanted me to become a jewellery designer and to continue the family business.
Years later, life brought me to Europe from the Philippines – not as a jewellery designer but as a chef, working in the kitchen. One day, I was in the hardware store buying some gardening materials. I found these rolls of metal wire – it felt like it was calling me to look at it. All of a sudden, those childhood memories all flashed back to me – of me playing with those wires when I was little, the joy and laughter I had during those days. Where did all those memories go? So, I grabbed some wire and took it home, and started playing with them again.
Wire is very malleable – if you treat it like fabric, you can do almost anything with it.
I never went to art or design school. I can’t express myself in 2D – it stresses me out. That frustration led me to mould my ideas using wires – they serve as ink to bring my ideas into reality.
You’re originally from the Philippines but you’ve made your home in Brussels – why is Brussels a good place to base yourself?
I’ve travelled around Europe and moved a lot because of my previous job as a chef. When I found Brussels, I just fell in love with it – the people, how metropolitan it is, how art and design are part of everyone’s lives here. How it can be crazy sometimes, but just the right amount of craziness for a crazy person like me.
I guess that it’s a match made in heaven.
What’s the creative process you follow when constructing your pieces?
Let’s put it on the record – I don’t draw. I just can’t draw. So, whenever an idea, shape, or concept comes to me, I have to execute it right away, or else I forget about it.
Ideas come to me through memories, sensations, meditations, and – embarrassingly – sometimes after a few glasses of wine during a dinner with my friends, particularly when my mind is tired of translating what everyone is saying.
I sometimes catch myself staring at an empty wall and the shape or idea would just pop in. I have to excuse myself from whatever I’m doing and rush to my atelier to work on it until the morning – something a crazy guy would do.
I consider myself an intuitive artist. I rarely plan my wire pieces at all. I even hate measuring – only when the piece is finished do I know the dimensions of it.
Sometimes, I’m cursing myself for not planning ahead – especially when the piece doesn’t fit through a door and has to be squeezed out of the building.
A piece can take me anywhere between a few hours to a few months to finish. It depends on the mood, or if I feel inspired and motivated, or sometimes the deadline of the shows reminds me to stop procrastinating and work my ass off.
Is there a specific theme that you’re exploring with the pieces that you’re currently exhibiting?
I got the inspiration to tell the story of my childhood.
From the memories of a childhood snack my siblings and I shared, to that fig tree my childhood friends and I used to climb, to the traumatic experience from my past faith and how I got into spirituality.
I’m sharing those stories using my wires.
What do you hope that people feel when they experience your work?
When I turned 18 – I’m now 32 – that was the time when I was able to travel and work halfway around the world. It was also when I learned that I have to stand up for myself because my family is not there anymore. I learned to be independent and to be responsible right away. Adulting. I became so serious about everything. I had to look after myself since no one else will. I lost the inner child in me.
So, I want people to rediscover their inner child. I want them to remember those long-lost childhood memories like I did during the creation of the pieces for this show. I want them to laugh again, dance in the rain, go eat ice cream, bring out that skateboard that has been catching dust in your basement, sing like there is no one watching, do silly faces. Climb a fucking tree. Just go and do things without the fear of looking foolish to everyone around you. Just be free. Be childlike – as in bringing out your curiosity that you had when you were a child – but not childish.
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