Dates As Titles: Creating Timely Yet Timeless Artworks - Arts & Culture

Kristoffer Ardeña prefers taking a poetic and timeless approach when creating art, which results in works that tackle significant issues without being didactic. 

This is an excerpt from Lifestyle Asia’s May 2023 Issue. 

Kristoffer Ardeña was born in 1976 and lives and works between Bacolod and Madrid. He works with various formats such as readymades, photography, installation, sculpture, painting, and others. Ardeña received his Bachelor of Fine Arts Major in Painting and Drawing from the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, USA as a full tuition scholar. 

Kristoffer Ardeña September 23-30, 2009 painting
September 23-30, 2009 (83.66 inches x 118.7 inches)

“February 23, 1949” was his recent solo exhibit at Artinformal. The paintings in the show carried specific dates as titles – a concept he wanted to refer to. For him, dates might seem enigmatic at first but they carry very specific universal and personal memory. The title also alludes to his mother’s birthday. On a personal note, he wanted to dedicate the exhibition to his mother but not make an overly emotional statement about it. 

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Most of the works had dates as titles since it is about the Philippines—a country that is highly politicized and its citizens are used to a lot of socio-political artworks. Ardeña thinks art is, by itself, a political gesture. He responds to the time he lives in yet, one of the criticisms he sees when it comes to politicized art practice is that it is trapped in its timeliness; in that specificity of time in a geopolitical context. 

Kristoffer Ardeña Special Pink Genuine Whitening Soap painting
Special Pink Genuine Whitening Soap (70.87 inches x 71.26 inches)

He wants to make art that is timely. He also wanted to avoid the fetishization of the sociopolitical or to open up the artwork to the universality of perception. That anyone should be able to view his work without being dictated by the specificity of its conceptual framework. He says his cracked tarpaulin paintings with date titles that “deal with issues about women empowerment, celebrating historical moments, about remembering certain upheavals and tragic ordeals, or a portrait of a hero, a loved one and most recently, I talk about the victims of LGBTQ+ hate crimes in the Philippines but not in that didactic and discursive manner, but in a poetic timeless approach that I talk about. You are seduced by the visual acuity of patterns and floral configuration, the event at hand, like all memory, becomes fragmented, not revealing everything, like life itself.”

Kristoffer Ardeña November 1, 2020 Painting
November 1, 2020 (70.87 inches x 59.84 inches)

About using tarpaulin and elastomeric paint, he says “As painters we do not necessarily question our medium, we usually attack the stylistic component to image-making. This for me is not enough because living in the Philippines opens us so much possibility to questioning this medium and being critical about it. If we want to enter into a global continuum of painting it is also important for us to push the formal qualities of the nature of painting.”

Read more by purchasing a copy of the Lifestyle Asia May 2023 magazine via or select newsstands in National Bookstore and Fully Booked. Subscribe to the E-Magazine via Readly, Magzter, and Press Reader. 

Photos courtesy of Artinformal. 

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