Victor Ancheta is an artist and writer. He spent his childhood in the Philippines, and then migrated to the United States. He is a graduate of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and studied Studio Art and Creative Writing at University of Houston-Downtown.
Victor is a conceptual artist, working mainly with sculpture, installations and paintings. He has exhibited in a variety of art spaces, most notably at Lawndale Art Center and the Contemporary Arts Museum. He has earned numerous awards and recognition for his works and is in several private collections around the world.
Angels and demons, virgins and sinners, all participate in a slow procession. While gilded suns and lunas hover above, a manageire of toy animals parade around and eyeless saints have a sacra conversazione with the audience. All happen in a world that I created.
My sources of inspiration are countless. I conjure images from my childhood, real life, dreams, imagination, and history. I grew up in the Philippines. Its rich heritage, diverse art, people, and colorful skies all influence my art.
Four centuries of Spanish colonialization in the Philippines created a nation deeply immersed in catholic tradition, traditions like fiestas and novenas and the art of the Santero. Santos or religious statues are created by santeros. Most Santos are carved out of wood, painted with gesso and natural pigments and then gilded with gold leaf, but the use of ivory was prevalent amongst Filipino santeros. I create santos out of clay and wood and in act of irreverence, appropriate divine catholic imagery to create works that explore the human body and its mortality.
My own experiences as a child often drive me to make art. I find inspiration in toys that I used to play with. I often recast them as symbols in elaborate installations. I want to find out who I really am, where I stand in society. I find myself wanting to regain my childhood, back when everything was simpler. My artwork reflects that simplicity in concept, but it is elaborate in execution and plan.
My family's history is a big part of my art process. Stories told to me by my mother of my great-grand parents, my lolo and lola, and especially of my father become part of my artistic process. My figures are eyeless because my great-grandmother Valentina often used to say, “The eyes are the mirrors to the soul.” I feel soulless; I believe that a soul is something that a person gains, little by little through experience, actions, wisdom, and emotions. My artworks reflect my feeling of incompleteness. Therefore, they exhibit a sense of confinement with their eyeless gazes. I find comfort in the stories of my ancestors and I weave their lives and their words into the tapestry of my personal narrative.
History is perhaps the most important ingredient of my artwork. My passion for history permeates my obsessive collecting of old paraphernalia and relics. It is integral in my art. I collect reproduction prints of ethnographic plates featuring people in their colorful costumes, santos, books, nativity figures, toys and such, to use in my artworks.
I mix all of these inspirations and set them in shadow boxes, on pedestals, and on canvases. I employ photographs, plastic animals and hand carved sculptures in making fantastic, sometimes even surrealistic representations.
Creating art helps me to remain connected to my roots, to my culture. It is important for me to feel that I belong to something unique and special. There’s a saying in Filipino that I keep close to my heart:“Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalinan ay hinid makakarating sa paroroonan.” “Those who don't know how to look at their origin will not reach their destination.”