A tasteful take on granny undies against a pile of white comforters and other things.
Knowing what you want to do at 20 is a tall order, but John Chesleigh Nofiel seems to have things covered. He’s just resigned from his day job to self-study botany and surface design, all to pursue his unique style. We found his botanical illustrations via Twitter, then got to know him a little better over email — where he described his art as “organic-growing-emotional-experimental-aesthetically-pleasing-Asian-hardinero realness”. And if that brand of spunk isn’t captivating, we don’t know what is.
What’s the story behind your artist pseudonym, Alagadngsining?
Artists see things in a totally different way, and we challenge different boundaries in our society to leave a mark that matters. Bilang Alagadngsining, gusto ko na maging tagahulma ng lipunan natin specifically sa environmental problems, and make an impact on succeeding generations of artists through my mode of creative expression: using plants as new media. Ganern. I’m still young, and I hope I make it someday to achieve this!
Have you always been interested in illustration? How did your passion start?
I started drawing when I was nine, and my passion for art really sparked when I was 13, when I discovered my first art idols on Instagram: Rian Gonzales, Tokwa Peñaflorida, and Soleil Ignacio. I learned from them to not be afraid to be yourself just because you’re not like everybody else. I guess [there’s something about] how raw and transparent they are in their artworks; you can see it from their distinct art styles and the themes of their works talaga — na may story kung ba’t ganu’n sila gumawa.
[Pursuing art is] a matter of practice, exploration, having a goal, and getting the right support from the right people. I thank my family for that kasi ‘pag nag-fi-freelance ka na, it’s exciting and completely terrifying at the same time because your livelihood will be determined by the success of your work.
We noticed that you work with botanicals, both in new media paintings and fashion illustrations. What draws you to use plants in your art?
I grew up observing and living with plants talaga. Believe it or not, pinapakain pa nga ako ng mga damo ng tita ko noong bata pa ‘ko. I’m an environmentalist and environmental problems exclude no one, and in particular, with my new media works involving live plants, my goal is to raise awareness for nature and bring nature closer to people who are so disconnected from it today.
I really enjoy using plants as the recurring elements in my works because plants have literal, figurative, symbolic, and metaphorical meanings. Just think of it as ruminating of nature, on how we have this special relationship with plants that belong to “another” world that interacts with us and in the end completes us.
Can you show us your three favorite pieces and tell us what they mean to you?
Mula sa Puso
Some people have given everything, money, time, but the harvest never came. I wanted to show in this work na maganda ‘yung kakalabasan ng kahit ano as long asgagawin ‘to genuinely in love.
Bakit Ayaw Natin Pag-usapan ang mga Sampaguita?
This one speaks in general about sex. It’s natural and everybody does it but ayaw na pinag-uusapan ng karamihan. There’s nothing morally wrong with sex naman, what’s morally wrong is to abuse its functions and purpose.
Santino Rosales from Rogue Magazine
Pictured is Santino photographed by Koji Arboleda. I’ve always wanted to play with Koji’s photos talaga, there’s this je ne sais quoi quality that emanates from his works that I really love.
What’s next for you?
I’ll be having my first online exhibit this year about falling in love called “Online Lover”. Two amazing people really inspired me to push boundaries and taught me a lot about love, pain, and happiness, so I’m really excited to express all of that to paintings and new media. Werk.
You can find John’s art on Instagram.