We sat down with the minds and talents behind the recently-concluded ‘Tour De Force’ exhibition, Paris-based award-winning photographer Ryan Arbilo, UNICEF artist Cesco Concepcion, and the show’s Director Mabu Concepcion.

As an early celebration for World Art Dubai 2017, ‘Tour De Force’ is an exhibition featuring 17 empowering Filipinos, including Ambassador Constancy Vingo, Yoko Ramos, Consul General Paul Raymond Cortes, Top Fashion Designers Furne One Amato, Michael Cinco and Ezra Santos, Top editor and media influencer Josh Mangila, top lawyer Barney Almazar, HR Director Vagelyn Federico, PR Maven Ian Borromeo and other inspirational Filipinos such as Teng Roma, Antoinette Gaza, Melanie Limjoco, Rex Bacarra, Jef Anog, Michael del Mar and Lou Bunyi to inspire millions of Filipinos working abroad.

Ryan Arbilo, Paris-based Award-winning Photographer

Ryan Arbilo Tour De Force

1. What inspired you to pursue photography? 
Paris inspired and nurtured me to become an artist using photography. I have been self-taught and my passion improved my craft.

2. How did you start?
I started with a non-professional camera back in 2007 . I watched videos and read everything about photography. I focused and spent so much time in studying my craft. This was the time when I had ideas in mind to showcase the Filipino life conditions in Paris inspired by the hardships of my mother who is an OFW in Paris. After my most successful exposition, I wanted to continue to have an impact with my photographs to reveal the Filipino plight.

3. What was the most challenging experience that you had as an artist?
The most challenging experience was the recent one that involved the ‘Tour de Force’ show. We encountered an unbelievable amount of challenges that ALMOST lead to the show being cancelled. It was a tough pill to swallow but with perseverance we managed to pull it through.

4. You were known for the ‘Chicken Hands’ show. Tell us about the difference of Chicken Hands and Tour De Force?
‘Chicken Hands’ is all about the photography depicting the hardships of the OFWs in Paris which is social politics, while ‘Tour De Force’ is a mixed media art of photography and painting and focuses on triumph from the pitfalls of an OFW .

Cesco Concepcion, UNICEF Artist 

Cesco Tour De Force

1. Where does your creativity come from?
My creativity comes from the genes from my mom’s side of artists, Jovita Fuentes, the opera singer, is my great aunt. My grandmother former Lorna Mirasol was a famous actress in the 50’s . There were traumatic events also in my life that triggered my creative juices. I was doing comic books on my own since I was a toddler.

I believe that I am more an emotional painter rather than technique and that, I think, is what draws the viewers to my paintings. The impact to the viewer experiencing the emotions of my art and making it their own is what really counts.

2. What excites you right now?
Currently, I am looking forward to the upcoming ‘Tour de Force’ in Abu Dhabi . We are going to research more and new ‘Tour de Force’ pieces will be presented.

3. Are you inspired by anything new?
What is inspiring me right now is going to college at Savannah School of Design and Art, the next ‘Tour de Force’ show, and the inspiring people behind it.

Mabu Concepcion, Creative Director

Mabu Art Director

1. How did you come up with the idea of ‘Tour De Force’?
I have always been a compassionate person . I get impressed with people surpassing tremendous impediments in their lives and gaining ascendancy by using the hardship as a tool of strength to gain success. Ryan called up from Paris and invited Cesco to collaborate where the subjects are the people who went through these pitfalls. Suddenly I had to get the name ‘Tour de force’  to focus on triumph .

2. What is your biggest inspiration for this?
The biggest inspiration for me and the artists Ryan and Cesco are the subjects themselves: their experiences, their sufferings, and their success. They inspire us to look for people to also inspire other Filipinos experiencing the same predicament. We wanted the world to know about Filipino resiliency, adaptability, and ingenuity.

3. We heard that you are bringing the exhibition to Europe?
Yes, we have been invited to Paris, Oslo, and Belgium. The positive feedback of ‘Tour de Force’ empowers the Filipino communities to be tighter and uplift each other by inspiring them to soldier on no matter what hurdles they have.

4. For you, what are the biggest cores of being an artist?
The biggest cores of being an artist for me are compassion and empathy. Our art advocacy is to inspire and give hope: to show the colors of people’s lives through stunning art pieces.