My preface for Gonzalo's book
“ You know how a motherfucker say you’re here for something? I believe that shit and I believe I’m here for nothing else but this, what I’m doing not to paint… but to do what I’m doing. That’s the artist you have to be, period “
How does one begin explaining art? Let alone art made by another person? I am sitting on the floor in the gallery space, dozens of Gonzalo’s drawings spread out on the dusty floorboards before me. Drawings of nubile girls, gangsters in tracksuits, portraits of artists that he knows and portraits of artists that he wished he knew. Assuming and effortless, his drawings don’t feel the need to justify themselves to you. You are the audience and are passive to the show. My eyes query with intention towards grappling the crux of his work and yet I am just as lost for words as the first time that I saw Gonzalo’s drawings. It was at my friend Made’s house. They were portraits of Basquiat, Matisse, Van Gogh and Hockney. It’s the same feeling of arrestment when I look at his drawings now as I did at Made’s house. How could these drawings that not only looked rough but also possessed such a puerile essence about them look so, for a lack of a writerly word, good?
To me, Gonzalos’ style exemplifies the diametric opposite to what finery is. Sketchy, rough, and impulsive. Straight lines cannot contain the energy and they seem to vibrate on the page with static electricity. Color must be redefined as ‘hyper-color’. Childlike is a specious descriptor to use. The lack of time, effort and finesse in these drawings are what ironically gives them their credibility. Gonzalo demonstrates that artfulness is a destination that is arrived at through whatever means possible. Archaic notions of perfection and conventional beauty are just that, archaic. His drawings manage to be complex and yet retain an innocence about them. The innocence comes from his unabashed attitude towards imagination.
He manages to convey complexity with childlike simplicity. Its un-pretentiousness is a breath of fresh air from the synonymous convolution of the art world. Idealistic is another apt descriptor for his art. He see’s the artist as genius, as the main purveyor of meaning and the most significant point of focus. Artists are monuments upon the idealistic plinth of admiration. Here is a drawing in front of me, with what seems like Henri Matisse sandwiched between two booty girls in fuchsia bikinis. Gold bling is draped around his neck and he stands there with Kanye West authority. It is a hip-hop video with Matisse as the lead. The artist is not only genius, but also king of the world around him. He dominates and dictates. He is the main event. Gonzalo depicts people, events and his imagination with monumentality. He is the artist, and he privileges his idols through his artistic creations. As much as his work is about the people that he idolizes, it’s also about himself. He see’s himself as a work of art, as something to be monumentalized. Self-idealization is the extended arm of Idealization and this is something that I enjoy about his work, it’s un-apologetic attitude towards elevating the self to god-like status.
The saying, “ Dare to Dream” sums up his drawings in three words. And why shouldn’t we be allowed to dream through our art?
What can’t be possible can be made possible through drawing it., writing it, singing it or filming it. Leafing through countless pieces of his work, I frequented fantasies that were made real on the page. He drinks with Matisse and he parties with Picasso. Even I had the privilege to dine with Simone de Beauvoir and Raymond Carver in one of his drawings. His work is defiant in its idealistic representation and this is what gives it its power. The outstanding definition of Gonzalos’s work is his shamelessness in his own beliefs about himself and other people.
As a practicing writer, I look towards art like how a passer by would towards an enticing shop. She knows that if she goes in, she’ll browse, she’ll get interested, and she’ll eventually buy more than she can afford.
Art to me, is something truly bigger than words can harness. Words are like miniature anchors, attempting to secure perspectives about the world. Art is something that effaces our ability to rationalize and to explain. Art has no responsibility in justifying itself to our emotions. On the contrary, we must justify our feelings towards art.
Anna Karina said to a man in a prominent Godard movie that he looked at her with words, but she looked towards him with feelings.
This is how I feel about Gonzalo’s work and to art in general. Art looks at us with words and we look towards it with feelings, but before you rebut that words are absent in art let me explain.
We know that literature is language in literal form. But art is language in visual form. Language is any form of communication that aims to express some sort of message or idea. Art speaks to us through its alphabet of colors, lines, and textures. Art is the abstracity of words materialized into visual form.
The language of Gonzalo’s work consists of idealistic adjectives, grandiose verbs and let’s put it out there, a suffix. Ceballos-ism.
The language of his art speaks to me in words. I look towards it with feelings.
Yalei Wang at 9:13 PM