By Mye Mulingtapang and Grace Sheelah Pickert
Creating innovative and imaginative at the same time outrageous and contemporary footwear that’s Kermit Tesoro. From skulls to heel less, melting latex and spikes to octopus inspired. These are just some of the weirdest of Tesoro’s statement shoes. The UP Diliman College of Fine Arts graduate is torn between several disciplines. Tesoro considers himself as a visual, installation, accessory, fashion, and random object designer. His sensibility is always inclined beyond his references and curiosity. He has a very diverse taste in choosing the right medium. It can go from leather, wood, industrial resin, high grade plastic, corals, stones and minerals and even human bones and teeth. There are plenty of stories that continuously evolve with each pair he makes. Tesoro carefully curates these stories through making all his works come into fruition.
“It's really hard to claim something and tell people how and what you are. Like how I treat my works, I don't necessarily tell people what my work conveys or what 'inspired' me."
“Everything is relative and subjective hence I give the audience the liberty to internalize my work whether if it's good or bad. It really is up to them what they think about me. But all I really know is, I'm just a simple kind of guy who likes biology, creativity, romanticism, literature, good music, food and culture,” Tesoro said.
Tesoro heavily relies on his childhood fixations, world history, nature, science, fetishism and human behavior. Wit his different and extraordinary style, he shares that some of his works are titled and some are just plainly untitled—not because he’s lazy to think of one but he believes that an artwork doesn't necessarily represent a word or a title. “It's up to the audience what they want to feel about my work. If it suits their opinion to call it that way, it's all good. To each their own”.
The affirmation as a shoe designer came after he made his own version of "bakya" or our local wooden clogs. The pair is all about modification, stripping down its commercial touch and infuse it with a very dark brutalist approach, veering away from its novelty. Since then, he tried different approaches using the same platform (pun intended).
On being Filipino
Having gained international recognition Tesoro shares his experience and sentiments towards the art industry in the country. “The best thing is, I get to travel the world and meet and be acknowledged by people who appreciate your artistry and even your whole being. I don't want to say the worst, but it doesn't feel okay that I don't get any support in my own homeland. I'm not complaining, my country deals with priorities that involves food and urban poor communities. Who am I to demand”?
“When the work is made by a Filipino, automatically it's Filipino. Regardless if the object is exhibited outside, it's the subject that matters. Plus, it depends on the artist if his or her work stems from his cultural roots, because not every art demands a tribute, it has to be a personal expression and applied with principles.” Tesoro shared.
Tesoro’s creations started to pick up international tractions in 2011 when he outfitted Lady Gaga. The singer also wore a pair his footwear on the cover of her single Marry the Night. In 2012, his creations were also seen in the collection of French-born designer Florian Jayet.
His footwear might be shocking to some but they definitely deserve a glass case in a museum. Recently, Tesoro has been invited to Germany in Schloss & Park Lichtenwalde. A stage for artistic attitudes, high craftsmanship of international artists and designers. His Polypodis and Equilibria pieces are showcased in a special exhibition entitled "HIGH HEELS—The High Art of Shoes" which shows contemporary exhibits from 25 May 2017 to 7 January 2018 from around the world. Over 90 shoes can be seen in the exhibition—from wearable to creative experimental pieces.
What’s next for Kermit Tesoro?
Even after his hiatus, Tesoro has already carved his identity and his works have been under the global radar. He continues to plow against the obstacle of the ever changing fashion world equipped with dedication and stands to be a footwear force. Now working on his concept notes Tesoro will just release the Kraken when it's ready to attack.
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Photographs taken from Tesoro's Instagram account: http://instagram.com/kermittesoro