In Search of Paradise

Gregory Halili

July 19 - August 13, 2011

Gallery 4

Gregory Raymond Halili may be spending most of his adult life away from his home country, but when looking at his miniature art pieces, one would think he has never left. In Search of Paradise, his latest one-man show at West Gallery, is proof of such deep-seated emotional connection and affection toward his roots. “These paintings deal with the idea of longing, remembering, and searching for something that is timeless and unattainable.”

“I am also in search of beauty, peace, and myself. It could also be a self-portrait of where I longed to be. And I truly hope it shows in my all works.”

Halili has been experimenting with gold dust for quite some time, with most of the works on view at West Gallery’s Gallery 4 produced in the past decade. “Creating my works in miniature, I feel that the physical property of the gold dust adds to the fragility and jewel quality of each painting. It is hard to capture the effect of the gold dust in reproduction, but one will see and feel the effect in seeing the actual work.”

This time, he does not only create postage stamp-sized masterpieces, but has gradually made slightly larger ones. Though the smaller paintings can be more technically challenging as it demands precision in controlling the brushes, watercolor, drawings, and proportions, Halili says the decision to enlarge his images was deliberate: “The size of the larger paintings (4″ x 6″) was inspired by my rummages and collections of old photographs. My aim is to be faithful to the physical size of a photograph and create an emotional response, based on my nostalgic recollections of the Philippines.”

“Working on this scale is a challenge because there are no white or neutral borders (which contain the miniature), and yet I have to maintain its intimacy and fragility. I create my watercolors by layers and small washes so it can take on a span of a few days to a few years. These larger works were created and collected in a span of a decade and have not been shown in public before,” recalls Halili, taking as much time as he needs to fine-tune his works until he feels they are done. “I’ve learned how to wait and take my time. I do not want to have an art show just for the sake of showing [my work].”

Looking ahead, Halili knows there is still a lot to explore technically in watercolor, though he has also been experimenting on different surfaces. “The hardest part is to translate and manifest the emotions and ideas that are brewing.”