Art matters: Young photographer's art is more than skin deep

By Nick Atkinson

Molawin Evangelista.
Molawin Evangelista.

He's named after a tropical flowering plant from the Philippines called the molave tree, which also gave its name to a creek near where he was born. His parents worked in the local forestry, but when Molawin Evangelista was two years old the whole family moved to Auckland.

Evangelista is 19 now, a budding fashion photographer with a unique perspective on the creative industries in the city of sails.

"Auckland has a great community of musicians, photographers and clothing designers. Growing up here I've always seen Auckland as a multicultural place," says Evangelista, who remembers a good deal of prejudice in his younger years.

He's sure Auckland is becoming more tolerant and inclusive and he has a buoyant outlook on art and fashion in his hometown. "Even though fashion is a very competitive industry there's a lot of camaraderie. It's so small and so condensed."

Now he's showing a collection of intimate portraits titled The Art of Youth at the Parlour Store on Little High St.

"Ever since I was young I've always been interested in tattoos. I've always had friends who have had tattoos. This photo series has been a six-month project. The main point of the exhibition is to showcase how the tattoos have integrated with their own personalities. The tattoos represent them. I found that beautiful," says Evangelista, who has yet to cover himself in ink.

"I study nursing. I was always scared of getting tattoos."

Yet many of his colleagues sport permanent body art that's become as every-day as skinny jeans.

"Tattoos have become more of an acceptable thing. I haven't seen too much stigma against tattoos."

Molawin Evangelista's photograph of Benjamin Chai.
Molawin Evangelista's photograph of Benjamin Chai.

It reinforces his view of Auckland becoming more accepting of different cultures.

The photographs in his exhibition show four of his close friends who "collect" tattoos. "The common thing is they have one tattooist who they trust. The images hope to unveil why they've chosen this form of expression."

When he's not up at 5am on a nursing placement, Evangelista moonlights as a fashion photographer, which explains why he's showing his photographs in the Parlour Store.

"The place has only been open for a few months. It's a new street-wear shop that stocks a lot of American heritage clothing. Pete, the owner, is an art enthusiast. It all ties in together because I'm primarily a fashion photographer."

Evangelista is also a co-founder of Uptown Loft Studios, a diverse team of five young designers and photographers including Cyrus Chow who is studying fashion and design at Whitecliffe College and illustrator and designer Georgia Black. This fledgling team may well take flight as an ad agency one day, but for now they're making the most of the soft, even light found during Auckland's wetter days. Hopefully their youthful enthusiasm keeps them dry.

- Weekend magazine

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