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Let the Art out of the Bag

Love Marie Ongpauco Escudero goes all out in her first exploration of luxury as objets d’art, for the‘Carry Your HeART’ exhibit

Portrait by Noel B. Pabalate and Video by JC Villanueva

Love Marie OngpaucoEscudero, otherwise known as Heart Evangelista, is done downplaying her artistic talent. Since revealing herself as a deeply contemplative artist, an intensely passionate one at that, Love Marie is gliding through a rich creative journey all her own, not pandering to some perceived notion of what is art and how to express it. Instead she’s embracing her creative impulses and turning them into artworks, in all shapes and sizes, with an authenticity and spirit that’s distinctly hers.Let the Art out of the Bag mb8

Of all her artistic ventures and creative collabs thus far, none is bolder and more whimsical and more lavishly unrestrained than her upcoming bag exhibit, “Carry Your HeART,” featuring a collection of Hermès handbags handpainted by Love Marie, at the Volkswagen Showroom, at Bonifacio Global City, open to the public from Sept. 3 to 9.

Breaking free

“It’s a different kind of art,” says Love Marie. “Not everyone is brave enough to have their precious handbags painted on, especially if they don’t really have a say on what the artist would splash on their purses.” But the brave souls who trusted her with their Birkins and Kellys and Haut à Courroieses were plenty enough for her to come up with a showcase of commissioned handbags or, if you will, handheld-status-symbols-turned-wearable-objets d’art.

“Painted luxury bags have all been the rage and celebrated in European countries like Paris for a while now. I believe this is the first time an artist is doing it in the Philippines so I’m so excited,” she says. So much more confident than the modest, almost shy, debuting artist from two years back, who felt extremely conscious and anxious when her first solo exhibit, “I Am Love Marie,” sold out in just an hour at the Ayala Museum.

“I’ve been painting my whole life, but when I came out as an artist, I was so scared that people would say my art was not ‘realist’ enough or even ‘art’ enough for their liking,” she says. This fear comes from the burden of being an artista, a pop star with legions of fans who will support her work no matter what. But rather than be bogged down by “online critics” (a.k.a bashers) she’s gone full speed the opposite direction, always looking for new ways to express herself, taking her art beyond the canvas and on to pages of children’s and poetry books, designer clothes, and now six-figure totes.

NEW EXPLORATIONS As the Hermès bags on loan for the exhibit are practically works of art, Love Marie titled them as such :

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  • Inner Beauty /2016.mb.com.ph
  • Lush Earth /2016.mb.com.ph
  • Rainshowers /2016.mb.com.ph
  • On The Wings Of A Dream /2016.mb.com.ph
  • Melancholy /2016.mb.com.ph
  • Morning On The Treetops /2016.mb.com.ph
  • Love Marie Ongpauco Escudero /2016.mb.com.ph

Pushing boundaries

She got the idea of painting on her handbag when, after desperately searching for ways to cover up oil stains on her orange lizard Birkin, she saw a paparazzi photo of Kim Kardashian carrying around a handpainted Birkin by no less than Kim K’s equally stylish firstborn, North West. “That bag ended up being auctioned,” she says.

But bag collectors like her know too well that one wrong brushstroke can mean losing access to Hermès repairs in the future. So she practiced first on a canvas HAC and, before long, got Instagram comments and inquiries from here to Hong Kong and all the way to Dubai. “My first clients were my friends because they trust me,” she laughs. Many others sought her art on their bags to cover up smudges and blemishes or to simply make them personal and more precious with an LM stamp. “Painting on Hermès bags turns them into genuine artwork that is why they are auctioned in Europe. The value maintains and even goes up, as long as you don’t puncture the bag. Lady Gaga, however kinda punctured hers when she stuck spikes in them. But that’s Lady Gaga, her bag could go in museums,” she says. It’s not so much defacing the bag as it is having fun with it, adding a pop of color or a dash of personality into a very classic luxury piece.

All the handbags featured in the exhibit, beautifully categorized under Gardens in Bloom (botanicals), Eyes on Eden (melancholy women), and Wings of Paradise (exotic birds), are commissioned and are not for sale. “It’s for pure appreciation,” Love Marie says.

Soon, she’ll be launching her very own handpainted clutch bag line in collaboration with her good friend Kat Cruz. A Carry Your HeART book is also in the works, which will feature some very interesting women and their handpainted Love Marie bags. “A few of my handpainted clutch bags will be exhibited, everything else is only for viewing, but, my gosh, the presentation is something else. It’s like stepping into a whole different world,” she ends.

Quite like stepping into a wildly fascinating and ever-changing world full of color and whimsy by an artist named Love Marie.