SPLASHED with vivid colors and starred by kitschy-style portraits, young artist Kim Bartz’s paintings can be misleading at first glance. With an illusive candy-colored aura, it’s easy to assume her works speak of all things pleasant and fun, when in fact it’s actually otherwise. Behind each image is a social issue just as saturated and loud as its colors—issues like gender inequality, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) discrimination and poverty.
These paintings were compiled and mounted in Kim’s first solo show held last March 18 to April 6 at the Qube Gallery in The Henry Hotel. Aptly titled #Popfusion, the collection is a modern take on age-old social issues, injected with pop culture references to delude onlookers.
The show is Kim’s final tryst as an art student, and it comprises pieces she has done since she was in her first year—her progression as an artist evident in the 14-piece collection, with her recent works mostly rooted in social commentary. One thing’s consistent, though, and that is her distinctive, quirky pop art style. “It’s what appeals to me,” she shared. “It’s not that I don’t like black and white, I just enjoy mixing different colors more.”
Gender inequality, poverty and LGBT discrimination are shown in a different perspective in her paintings. She makes use of doll boxes to visualize her point on how women are often objectified and subjected to restrictive expectations. Next, she plays with the Cebuano term “sinardinas” as she tackles poverty in her Sardinas series, mixed-media depicting children in impoverished situations.
Then, there’s her massive 4 x 6 ft. painting titled Rainbow Warrior, which depicts a transgender sporting a mustache and with a pair of scissors in his hand. Kim said it was based on a friend of hers who refused to shave his mustache off, signifying defiance to societal presumptions. “(It) symbolizes the strength of each member in the LGBT community. They have the ability to confront the injustices committed against them,” she noted.
A Luxembourger-Filipino, Kim has dabbled in art since she was a child, as she used to tag along her dad who is an artist as well. Over the years she has done group exhibits and has received awards from USC’s Cafa (University of San Carlos - College of Architecture and Fine Arts) Design Awards and Espina Art Awards. Coming in “academically recommended,” Kim was selected by Qube Gallery as the featured artist of its Bright Eyes series for 2015, that is, the only student artist to have a show there this year.