Hail To The Artist
In the deepest ocean,
The bottom of the sea,
Your eyes —
They turn me.
"Weird Fishes (Arpeggi)", Radiohead (2007)
Last summer in the Polaroid Android series (see Related articles), I had introduced you to my my artistic crush for Chester Calayag, a young Filipino painter I met on W.A.S.T.E., Radiohead's official network. A tortured artist, yet he had a special way of making you look at the bright side of things through his off-beat humour and good spirit. Ultimately, it appears it was all but a front to conceal the deep-rooted ill-being that consumed him and that his art proved unable to fully exorcise.
Sadly, Chester decided to leave us on January 11.
I was greatly shocked to hear the news all the more since I had exchanged messages with him only a couple of days prior to this tragic event and he was delighted to have been included in a private group I had created on Twitter to celebrate the New Year.
“It's nice to read articles like this, and knowing that once in his life he experienced to be acknowledged” wrote Jhen Calayag, Chester's elder brother who broke the tragical news to me.
“Thank you for your time and the appreciation you showed to Chester. I'm so grateful to all the people who appreciate my brother especially when he was still alive. Please, keep on praying for his soul.”
Oh my god, I had not realised how much it had meant to him. I was genuinely moved when he surprised me with an oil portrait he made based on my profile picture stamped with “Gut Feeling”, which happens to be my dominant trait for those who know me well.
As explained previously, Chester was a big fan of Radiohead. “He had a tattoo of Radiohead on his left arm, and before he died he made a doll of himself with a cassette tape of Radiohead [of Pablo Honey, their first album] as his head holding a guitar” Jhen remembers, obviously touched that I informed the Radiohead community of his tragic loss and posted some of Chester's paintings where they got featured in due place.
On W.A.S.T.E., Jo does recall first seeing Chester's comments “that were often accompanied with a "heh heh" and a :) or similar”.
”My initial thought was ‘what's so amusing? This guy's a bit weird!’. Then, bit by bit, I began to realise that he wasn't a weird guy at all. He had a marvellous, sometimes irreverent sense of humour, was sensitive and creative. His ‘Hi, how are you?’ posts were genuine. I got the feeling that he sincerely wanted to know how we were. In hindsight, maybe he was reaching out and needed to say show he was (but wasn't able to say, by what I can make out).”
“Chester's creative posts, showing his work were always like receiving a present. Like his character, they portrayed the unique, the beautiful, the sorrow, hurt and also humour in his and in our lives. He was so very talented and generous in his art. I particularly remember those long limbed figures (Radiohead, I think?) that were genial!”
“So, it's a shame I wasn't in contact with Chester for very long. He left a mark, definitely. It's such a tragic loss to his family, friends and fellow W.A.S.T.E. members that he felt unable to carry on. He will be missed, sorely missed. The world needs more Chesters, though of course he was a one-off! Bye, Chester and thank you.”
According to his family, Chester was apparently suffering from the same ill as Thom Yorke in his younger years : depression. And that's probably because some of his lyrics mirrored his own feelings so well that he worshipped Radiohead's music.
“We thought he was suffering from depression, but he always answered he was fine” Jhen Calayag explains. “Really depression has no face. Although we saw sadness in his eyes, that sometimes he would choose to sleep more and keep quiet, he still managed to smile and have fun with us and with his friends. He really appreciated little things especially lately before he went.”
“But only God knows what was really in his heart and mind. We are still clueless about the real reason why he took his own life. It's so shocking that his journey in this world ended in his own hands. Maybe he really wanted to free himself from the heartache and pain some people caused him. Everyday it feels like it's getting harder and harder to accept that he's gone. He had a lot of plans.”
“He was a good person, friend, son and brother. I don't remember if there were times when we had a fight or argument about something. He respected me as his older brother. I know that whenever I did something he didn't like, he was still there to support me. I still have a lot of things I'd like to say about him.”
“I didn't really talk with Chester very much” B apologises. “I did recognize him as a beautiful soul, so I 'friended' him. It's a tragedy that he left too early and by his own hand... he must have suffered deeply. He'll be missed. I hope he's flying free and happy now, in perfect peace.”
“I pray he finds the peace that he was searching for” writes Jean Dotson. ”I pray his family and friends find comfort in his passing. I have to believe, he has gone on to a better life. yes, he was so gifted, so expressive, so wonderful to have him in this life, if for only a brief time. the demon of depression can no longer haunt him. Blessings and Peace!”
“As a man and a fellow human being, I just wish more could be done to stop this happening again. So many good, talented and often too young people who are no longer with us. My sincerest thoughts are with the family of Chester. May he find the peace in the world he now inhabits that he sought on earth” concludes Ian The Trickster
I, for one, would like him to be remembered for his bright side even though his dark side took him over, because that is what every human being should choose to nurture within. We are both light and darkness, but as gardeners of our inner sanctuaries, it is our utmost duty to ensure a good balance of whatever grows in it.
Even though it's certainly the hardest thing in the world in our egotistic societies ruled by psychopaths who ridicule emotional distress and make hypersensitivity look like a flaw. Strength lies not in feeling nothing but in no longer exhausting your energy in responding. Sadly, I do not have (yet) any perfect method to offer. I'll let you know when that happens (and for free). Do not remain confined in your own private hells pretending everything is okay. Weed out.
Many thanks to Jhen Calayag and everyone who took the time to share their feelings.
And most of all, a huge thank you to Chester for crossing and illuminating our paths down below with his art, just like a comet crossing our horizon way too fast.
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Tags: tribute, graphics, art, eyael
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