Countable and Uncountable: Lui Gonzales’ New Exhibit Is A Celebration of Her Journey as an Artist
Artist and Musician Lui Gonzales, who considers her works a personal diary of sorts, graduated as an Art Scholar majoring in Visual Arts from the Philippine High School for the Arts and obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. In 2010, she was chosen as one of the representatives of the Philippines for the ASEAN Youth Camp for Visual Arts held in Hanoi, Vietnam. Since then, her contemplative drawings and layered works have been exhibited at art spaces and art galleries both locally and internationally.
In 2016, she became part of “Paper Trails,” a show presenting works on paper in Sangkring Art Space, Jogjakarta, Indonesia. In 2019, she had a group show called “Simulacra” in Substation, Singapore. Her works for her first solo show called “Colorless Confetti” was exhibited at Eskinita Art Gallery in 2018, where she deconstructed the process of remembering, imagining memories as several fragmented layers that occur before the mind in no particular order. In 2020, her work was shortlisted as part of the Ateneo Art Gallery’s prestigious Marciano Galang Acquisition Prize.
Art enthusiasts know Gonzales as an artist who uses tracing paper and delicately layers torn shreds to create powerful, faceted, and dynamic images of people, objects, and scenes. The artist, who first encountered art from Art books that her father let them read, uses five layers of paper on average to create one work. She begins by tracing along the paper with a pen, rendering the likenesses of people and familiar objects in scrupulous detail. Then, after layering one over the other, she comprehensively tears the tracing paper from top to bottom. The torn edges of the paper decorate the pieces with prominent lines and shapes that twist and turn to form dynamic figures. The outcome is a feast for the eyes, each layer beckoning the viewer to come and explore the depth art collectors admire.
Her Countable and Uncountable exhibit, which is currently on view at ArtInformal Gallery in Makati until October 18, 2022, continues the narrative of Gonzales’ layered drawings cleverly situating the artist’s growing up years with her family, attendance to art openings, performances at music events, and the drinking sessions in between. The title is an homage to every person who has applauded her artwork, listened to her play, or shared a drink with her. Gonzales believes that all of her six works on display relive the gatherings of memories by immortalizing the occurrences in her life through her art.
Upon entering the gallery, the audience is greeted by the work “Are We Staying in or Are We Going Out?” The 62×49 inch work consists of images of clothes from the closet and drinks lying around the house, the kitchen cabinet with paper bags, plants, and curtains. The title is also a question that Lui and her siblings often ask themselves then. For her, everyone is forever moving, and the alternation of places shapes us.
Further into the gallery are two massive works. The 86×49 inch work, “Let’s Stay Outside Just to be Safe,” echoes Lui’s attendance at her first actual gig at Motorista Bar, when the country’s health protocols finally allowed bands to play. “I Look Around Our House, and I Like What I See Because It is Us” presents the ever-sentimentalist in Lui. The work shows meaningful signifiers such as a calendar, books given to them, even notebooks, little trinkets from Japan Surplus, some plants, and a curtain to situate the time in a capsule. These objects are mementos that take you back to specific places in time.
Her most extensive creation to date proudly announces itself upon entering gallery two of ArtInformal. The work, “Don’t Forget to Take Photographs,” is a ten-layered masterpiece that can vibe considered the most personal and meaningful to the artist. In this work, Lui excruciatingly reminisces recent episodes she fondly chooses at random. The framed images show her partner, Raymond playing bass with his band at the still-existing Route 196, Lui’s sister and her boyfriend at their cozy place in Teachers Village, where they frequently hang out. A cameo appearance by famed artist Alfredo Esquillo and his kids during a recent art opening at Eskinita Art Farm can be seen in the work. Another inserted image is Lui’s elder sister while delivering her graduation speech, among many other personal memories in the artwork. Next to this work is “I’m Glad I See People, I Need People.” This piece has her mother in their house, an artist-friend, Lui’s bandmates Reg, Andy, and Janine at Big Sky Mind, and some collected images from memorable events or casual night outs.
The last work, “Flowers to Welcome the Coming Months,” ironically was the first piece Lui finished for the September show. The artist finds still life works such as this condition her mind as they are an excellent regimen to her daily art practice.
Writer Jay Bautista says, “In Countable and Uncountable, Gonzales fully flourishes in depth in her pursuit of the aesthetic. She is most cheerful in imagining the artworks as she was when she celebrated her lightness of being with family and friends. Countable and Uncountable is what it means to survive a contemporary plague in fun and dignity –with pen and beer in tow.”
For a few years now, Lui has been drawing on tracing paper portraits, objects, and scenes, layering them and tearing those layers intuitively to highlight, subdue, and partly conceal details to show how events and our recollections of them are often indistinct. For her, tearing through the layers of paper is an act of destruction, but even when pulled and torn, the pieces of paper still hold value. They are recalled and remembered and, therefore, brought back to life.
ArtInformal is located at The Alley at Karrivin, 2316 Chino Roces Avenue Ext. Makati.
Notes about the contributor
Art enthusiast and into Fashion, French Culture, Mid-century modern design and spends a lot of his time curating his home in Manila and LA. He lives with his 3 dogs, Coco, Yohji and Junya.
Photos by the Author