Year one: past, present, personal

Mon, Feb 17, 20
A year ago, I packed two suitcases, and thirty four paintings to make a long-standing dream a reality: relocating to New York to dive deeper into my art practice.
As I settled into my new life, the atmosphere felt ripe to explore materials, and deconstruct what I knew so far. On the one hand I want to make sure that all the decisions I am making regarding materials and my art are conscious. And on the other, I want to stay open to the evolution and expansion of my practice as I learn, discover, and live.
One of the most important reflections this year was defining why I want to bring my ideas to the visual plane. In essence, I want to catalyze a connection with the present moment through my art. When I let my entire body guide a mark along a 6-foot surface, or massage a color into the raw fabric - I am present. I am connected with the material, with the color, with the movement, with the moment, with the emotion. It is through this vast world of colors and unrecognizable figures that I want to captivate the heart, before the mind.
From a technical standpoint, there are three truths I discerned throughout the year and that reflect my current practice and perspective:
1- A painting is not limited to the surface. In my opinion, everything which builds and entails the painting is part of the narrative, and therefore is space to explore. This includes the shape of canvas, the position, the materials, and even the things that usually go unnoticed such as the shadow or the back side.
2- Painting is the application of color. Period. The exploration of materials and surfaces this year led me to the conclusion that color is what activates or illuminates a surface (regardless of its shape or material), and that color is the most powerful factor to activate our senses, and our heart.
3- The subject and the content of the work are not the same, and they don’t have to be. In summary, I learned that the subject is what one decides to paint or make, but the content is based more on the personal experience of the artist, on that unique story which only he or she can live. The content can therefore be obvious, or just a collection of messages encrypted by the creative hand. It is up to the artist whether they want to bridge the gap or not. Content can be complex and multifaceted as are humans, our experiences, and emotions. I know content is present in my paintings, but making obvious connections does not necessarily interest me at this point in time.
In closing thoughts, I would say it was a year with a lot of hard work, but I feel grateful for it gave me a lot in return, including the fact it was the most prolific year of my life. I am more invested in my art than ever, and excited to discover how far I can take color. There are a few big projects coming up, including my first solo exhibition in New York later this year. If you would like to stay in touch, and be up to date with what's coming up, please join my email list below.
unedited text by Gabriela Gil
images by Rey Santiago, and Gabriela Gil
  • Image 1: Portrait with "Era Una," 2019, 30"x24" ((76.2 x 60.96 cm), Acrylic, Japanese ink, and charcoal on canvas
  • Image 2, and 3: Studio views and a painting in progress
  • Image 4: Color studies, and "String," 2019, 30" x 12" (76.2 x 30.48 cm), Acrylic, pigment, gesso and thread sculpture on raw canvas
  • Image 5: "Ave del Paraíso" ("Bird of Paradise"), 2019, 36"x48" (91.44 x 121.92 cm), Acrylic, pigment, soft pastel, and gesso on raw canvas
  • Image 6: Photographs around the studio of places, knowledge, and artists I encountered over the year.