Despite finishing a fine art degree, Bricx, full name Bricx Martillo Dumas and sometimes known as ShrimpPaste, has spent the last ten years trying to find his artistic voice. He was initially influenced by the Surrealistic movement and Fauvism and began to dabble in digital art when typhon Haiyan hit his native Philippians in 2013.
A keen mountaineer and lover of nature, this devastating storm pushed him from being a concerned citizen of the planet to a devoted climate activist. This passion was to also influence his art which increasingly drew inspiration from the collapsing climate themes.
He discovered the DigitalArt4Climate competition in November 2021 organised by IAAI GloCha in collaboration with the UN-Habitat youth programme. The NFT platform chosen by UN-Habitat was Unique Network, offering carbon neutral NFTS using its more efficient and scalable proof-of-stake solution, currently built for the Kusama and Polkadot blockchain networks.
The aim of the competition was to inspire and promote climate action through the power of culture and technology, and to empower the update of digital innovation by the creative community in an accessible and meaningful way.
Not only did he enter, but he was the overall winner beating off entries from 200 creators hailing from more than 58 nations from around the world. His piece was called Nexus and features a hand smoking a cigarette and holding what looks like a fish but is also a plastic bag filled with water and a straw. It is placed on a vivid red background.
“I feel very proud to have won this competition – it gives an international voice to a developing country,” says Bricx who is also very shy of media appearances.
However, his NFT Nexus went onto to be displayed at the climate emergency conference at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow and was seen by 120 leaders and over 40,000 participants, including 22,274 party delegates, 14.124 observers and 3.886 media representatives.
As a result of his win, Bricx became an international star overnight. Days later he received a formal letter from the House of Representatives of Philippines congratulating him and has made appearances on a number of platforms such as ArtGence 3D gallery, CNN Philippines, ANC 24/7 and WSJ+ at Iconic Mints.
More recently he was also offered an artistic residency for three months at the National Heritage Park.
“This opportunity would never have happened without the DigitalArt4Climate competition,” he says. Bricx knows that living in a developing country means people put their own survival ahead of bigger issues such as climate change but sees art as a means to make the message clearer.
His inspirations also include local Filipino Carlos Botang Francisco and his love of folklore. Bricx will go to the mountains for colour or use lucid dreaming as part of his creative process, which in part of local heritage with the Dreamweavers of t’Boli, an indigenous tribe in the Philippines, also using dreams for culture.
“When I take up my residency in the Heritage Park I can’t wait to visit the nesting site of the largest eagle in the country – the monkey eating eagle,” says Bricx. “I look forward to incorporating that magnificent creature into my art.”