Tyang Karyel finds her own way to happy island

The artist. Photo from Jojo Gloria / Art Fair Philippines.

What would your world look like if you rewrote your chapters and determined the rest of your narrative? How far does it go and where would it lead? For multimedia artist Tyang Karyel, the journey, punctuated with highs and lows, trials and errors, is a long but worthwhile and thoroughly eventful one to ‘happy island’. And she is on course.

“We have come to the point that we need to adjust and transition to what we are, in every era of our lives,” Tyang says. “I’m in the point of my life where I want my and art and art style to express what I feel and share with everyone who I truly am, visually and emotionally.” As part of the Cartellino group online release Serious Play, Tyang shares a close look into this personal journey. 

Playing pretend in a bathtub, the scene from ‘Voyage to happy island’ is a snapshot of a memory familiar to anyone. In Tyang’s distinct signature style featuring her bubblegum palette and spontaneous linework reminiscent of notebook doodles, the memory takes on a new meaning. The memory is reimagined and, with that, renewed with not only a sense of hope and striving toward something new but also a sense of self embracing all these possibilities. 

‘Voyage to happy island’, the artist shares, is her take on building one’s identity throughout the years. Just as we are told, life is never really about the destination, but as she has grown up to understand it isn’t totally about the journey either: it’s what we bring along with us—how we weigh and rewrite important chapters, and what we leave behind as the story goes. “We all seek happiness in life and sometimes we have to let go of some pages that keep dragging us from finding our happy ending.”

Tyang’s unique artistry was highlighted in the 2022 edition of Art Fair Philippines in a special exhibition titled Playtime Paradiso. There, her world takes on another familiar form, that of a typical Filipino neighborhood with all of its trappings articulated with what has been termed as a “Tyanganized” subjectivity. This is brought to the fore in Serious Play as the artist looks back on the progression of her practice from all the way back in childhood. Growing up an only girl in a family full of boys and men, Tyang spent a largely solitary childhood playing and reading books by herself. Today, art provides a space for healing that inner child, and though it is not without its own challenges, the artist is blithely keeping on. “Trials and errors are what I am thankful for,” she reflects. “Everything does not come overnight and it takes time and experience to be where I am.” 


Tyang Karyel joins BITTO, Cholo Cardenas, Littlespaceboi, Rachel Anne Lacaba, Naburok, Angelica So, and Karyl Nerona in the group show Serious Play, which runs from November 7 to December 7.


About the artist

Tyang Karyel’s graphic and illustration background plays a vital role in her visual language, blended with folk art and influenced by Filipino pop culture, toys, and 80’s-90s cult films and comics. Her work satirically tackles people’s love of food and nostalgia for familiar brands and objects. Drawn to ephemeral consumerism and the aesthetic errors that come with mass production cycles, Karyel absorbs its visual cues as a form of art.

Exposed as she was to her father’s DIY practice of tailor-making at their home, Karyel spent most of her childhood in his backyard workshop, tinkering with his equipment. Her innate eye for three-dimensional spacing and her affinity for wood naturally embodied her practice as she shifted to fine arts. Karyel is one of the core members of the street art community in the southern metro, the CAVITY COLLECTIVE.