KALAT By Basti Artadi: Revisiting the Icons of His Youth

To many of us, Sebastian ‘Basti’ Artadi is the frontman of the iconic Filipino rock band Wolfgang. Since last year, we would see him do a few collaborations with other musicians here and there. Later on that year, he would go on to launch his first solo music project online.

The album entitled Everybody Knows that the Dice Are Loaded is a compilation of songs he wrote himself from way back, with the help of some really, really nice guys called the Nice Ones. Now there is Basti and the Nice Ones who regularly plays around the metro.

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Earlier this year, Reverb Manila spotted him perform live at OPM’s 12-hour music festival in a notable Collab Session with balladeer Christian Bautista.

He really seems to be all over the place.

Then last May 20, he makes another solo debut, this time, as a painter during the launch of his solo art exhibit entitled KALAT.

It’s been over a week since we witnessed the launch of his collection of paintings at A Space _Gallery. It was barely six in the evening, and everyone else was just about on their way out of the office or the usual traffic jam in Makati. The night was beginning to wear on real quick while there I was, busy getting lost in Makati. It could’ve been an ordinary Wednesday night; instead, I chose to pay A Space Manila a visit and catch a glimpse of Basti Artadi’s opening night. What I saw upon entering the fifth floor of the building was a cozy, minimalist space that’s undeniably inviting that I’d almost forgotten what I was there for. Artadi’s exhibit was a few steps away to the left from the entrance. And within those walls was yet another world.

Let’s call it #KalatbyBasti.

The view from the moment I entered the gallery was a masterpiece in itself. Picture this: there Basti Artadi was, the rock star that we know, only he wasn’t singing. Instead, it was a scene of Artadi constantly conversing with some familiar and new faces. There he was, sharing a part of himself that’s beyond his being a musician. A splash of colours and film and music and comic book icons that were reminiscent of different eras, surrounded him and the guests during the opening night.

I’ve easily found favorites from his collection, listing Nicdao, Blue Boy, and Newman Taylor as my Top 3 favorites. There were 16 paintings to his collection, and I had quite a lot of questions going on in my head as I took a closer look at each one. I needed answers. I had to approach him.

So here’s Reverb Manila’s short interview with the main man behind all this mess. #KalatByBasti


So. Why Kalat?

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Basti: It’s a mess, so it’s kind of all over the place. I didn’t paint these with one idea in mind. You have musicians, actors, then all of a sudden you have comic book characters. Hence, the title Kalat. And it kind of goes with the style. Kalat.


How would you describe yourself as a painter?

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Basti: I don’t really consider myself one (a painter). I paint because I lose myself in it when I do it.


How would you compare your art with your music?

Basti: It’s just weird. It’s just the way it came out. I’m really, really into color, and it just happened naturally. When you listen to my music though, the imagery in my lyrics are usually negative and dark.

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When did you start drawing?

Basti: I’ve been drawing since I was seven or eight. I started with watercolor, and then maybe around 2006, I started with oil. The paintings are of icons that I grew up watching or listening to. The earliest one was that (pointing to Elvis). It was my first creation.

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What finally pushed you to pursue this exhibit? 

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Basti: Honestly, it was A Space Manila. I had all of these stuff at home, and a friend of mine came and saw these and said, ‘Man, what are you doing?’…Then he happened to know some people from A Space (Manila) and told them about it. So A Space Manila approached me and asked me if I was interested. I showed them my works and they said, ‘Oh, let’s do it’. Okay then. But you know, if they hadn’t approached me, this wouldn’t have been possible.


Among your paintings, which one is your favorite? Kalat-by-Basti-Reverb-Manila-36

Basti: I don’t have a favorite. Although that Clint Eastwood over there, I really love.

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Basti: Captain America, too.


What is the story behind Blue Boy? Kalat-by-Basti-Reverb-Manila-37

Basti: I saw a picture online – a painting from Picasso’s Blue Period. I was looking at a couple of paintings of his from that time. I wanted to try doing that, so I ended up with this.

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Blue Boy is the only painting out of all this that’s different, wherein I actually wanted to emulate something from someone else’s.


What about Nicdao (reference to photographer Mark Nicdao)? That to me is the most unique out of all your artworks. Kalat-by-Basti-Reverb-Manila-16

Basti: That’s my first time working with sculpture. It’s basically made of paint and plaster. I did it that way. I was talking to him (Mark Nicdao), and I asked him how many people he photographed…

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Basti: The skulls are supposed to represent all the people that Nicdao photographed.


Let’s talk about your other solo projects. What’s the story behind We All Know That the Dice Are Loaded? Basti

Basti: These are songs that I had over eight years. When I was in the US, I just kept writing. I came up with 26 songs, and I chose to record ten with The Nice Ones. It’s like Americana; it’s different. It’s not Wolfgang. It’s got a Blues art to it.

What’s next for Basti as a solo artist?

Basti: The thing is that I’m an artist. I just have to do what I gotta do and be open to new things. I had those original songs then I found the guys to play them with…Basti and the Nice Ones.

I guess this year, I’m gonna dance.

Basti was kidding. Although some part of me wished he wasn’t. Basti, dancing? That’s something to watch for.


What’s next for Basti as a painter? Kalat-by-Basti-Reverb-Manila-30

Basti: Since Kalat is more of a retrospective collection that did not have a central theme, I’d like to do one with a theme next time. Hopefully, through this medium, it will make people realize something about our music scene.

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Our short chat with Basti Artadi concluded with him inviting us to listen to Everybody Knows that the Dice are Loaded on Spotify! Follow Basti Artadi on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

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#KalatByBasti is a collection of art within another art form. His is a collection that transports us back to the heydays of these personalities and icons who have significantly influenced the art and entertainment industry over the past decades. When you say Hollywood, Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, or Clint Eastwood come to mind, just as you would equate Picasso and his “Blue Period” with painting, Elvis Presley with music, or Stan Lee with comic books. They are just as relevant today as they were during their time. These paintings allow us to explore Basti Artadi’s exposure to these icons’ craft in his youth. In the local scene, Basti also paid homage to rock icon Pepe Smith and accomplished photographer Mark Nicdao.

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Although Kalat would be described as one that didn’t come with a theme, to me, this collection has created a retrospective unison. Artadi has also shown us a different side to him. His chosen medium expresses his love for colour, which is in stark contrast with his music.

He’s given his fans more reason to expect new things ahead of him as an artist. And we are just as thrilled as everyone else is for what he’s going to do next!


It’s Friday! If you haven’t visited the gallery to check out #KalatbyBasti just yet, catch it while you still can. Artadi’s exhibit will be up ’til June 22, 2015. Open from Mondays to Fridays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., visit A SPACE _Gallery and hang out with the cool guys behind the awesome co-working space that is A Space Manila.

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For more information, please contact Coco Torre at (63) 917 848 9943 or gallery@aspacemanila.com.

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