Interview with Sal Ponce Enrile

Sal Ponce Enrile | Philippines

For Sal Ponce Enrile , art is an agent of transformation . For many years Ponce Enrile occupied a prominent public post in her native Philippines, serving her people with dedication. Painting gives expression to her vulnerable, personal self. Yet Ponce Enrile also views her art as embodying the resiliency and vibrancy of her people. 

Sal creates complex abstract compositions, using mixed media, and a variety of textures. Many of her paintings are blurred out or grayed over like memories of a forgotten era. Working primarily in acrylic and mixed media on canvas, her brushstrokes look more like scribbles on a chalkboard, lightly hovering against a dark background. In other pieces, she uses bold definitive marks that jump out at the viewer, creating moments of contrast and tension in the frame. She likens her work to controlled chaos where an overall cohesive effect unites an array of bright and energetic brushstrokes. This sense of unity permeates her work, bringing together a range of different styles and techniques under one roof.

“Exposing one’s self through art is very liberating—it gives permission to vulnerability. Art comforts the senses and purges them from unwanted tensions.”

“Painting is a form of self-expression and exploration while achieving a higher purpose in the process. It is not merely recreation nor reflection but driven by a passion to make sense of this creative energy by using it as an instrument to pursue a more meaningful mission which is to continue my advocacy of helping others.”



Contemporary Art Station: Tell us about how you got started. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I’ve been drawing since I was a child. Being  sickly when I was young, drawing was my way of entertaining myself especially during those moments when I would be in the hospital for weeks. 

CAS: What is your process like, from initial idea to the creation of the piece? Do you usually develop the idea for a project before you find the "canvas", or vice versa?

My process begins with a strong inspiration or idea. My work is inspired by anything and everything. It could be a dream, an experience, a person, a place, an event, a powerful emotion or simply an urge to purge something from within. My inspiration is everywhere, it is just a matter of which one strongly beckons at a particular given moment making it almost an instinctive or intuitive reaction to paint. Hence, it is both having an initial idea or a blank canvas that guides and dictates the process.

CAS: What do you love most about your creative process?

The risk and adventure behind the entire process especially since I enjoy using different kinds of materials and combining techniques - some more unusual than others—and by playing with different strokes. I do not like overthinking, it destroys the creative process. I enjoy the enigmatic build up towards the final outcome.



CAS: What role does art and the artist play in the broader social conversation today?
The role of art nowadays is not only for visual indulgence but should serve as a powerful message that resonates with its audience as it attempts to stir different kinds of emotional, political, cultural, religious or personal response. Art could also be a source of deliberate or unintentional controversy and intrigue perhaps because of the work’s value and content or the artist’s persona, beliefs or the story behind both the art and its creator.

CAS: Name a few of your favourite artists and influences.

I am drawn to the works of different artists from different periods such as: Odilon Redon, Francis Picabia, Wassily Kandinsky, and Georgia O’Keefe among others.

CAS: What is the best advice you received as an artist?

I just received this advice from a well known abstract artist:If the colors are there, use it.. and if there’s only black and white- use it!!! It’s more of the feeling!”



CAS: When did you discover your voice as an artist? 

I am in my nascent stage in my career as an artist, therefore, it is but a whisper that I am following and searching.

CAS: What advice would you give to emerging artists trying to find their own? 

It is never too late to follow your passion. It is just a matter of persistence, dedication, a lot of hard work, and believing in yourself. 

Thank you Sal!