Philippines-born, New Jersey-based artist Gregory Halili's latest series of works involves carving and painting with oil on raw mother of pearl found in shells from the Philippines. Halili was born and raised in the Philippines, surrounded by lush vegetation, tropical wildlife and warm people. As a teenager, he moved to this country in 1988. The artist’s memories of childhood infused with the perfume of the tropics are a touchstone to many of his paintings.
Working in gouache, the miniatures range in size from 1x1 inch to 4x12 inches. In this small scale, Halili creates an entire world filled with light, atmosphere, mood with meticulous precision and immense detail. He draws us into an enchanted garden, a kinder, gentler place.
For the past three years Gregory Halili has worked on a series of images of New York, bringing his unique vision to the structures of this city.
Using sepia-related tones with hints of color and sparkles of gold, the artist captures vistas of the city depicting the lake in Central Park in winter with distant views of apartment towers, buildings in perspective, the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings among them, details of structures, both recognizable as New York icons, and anonymous as structures that fascinate the artist visually.
At times the artist captures a line-up of New York’s varied styles of architecture, buildings in a horizontal parade, or vertically, stacked like a cubist composition. At other times, the artist captures details of structures, the windows and fire escape staircases on the outside of a cast iron building, the bold face of a clock under a hotel’s canopy, the filigree of wrought iron metal work on the terrace of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Through the sepia golden glow, Halili infuses his watercolors with the history of New York though the images are contemporary, based on photographs the artist takes himself. Whether he is exploring the macro view of New York in a “cityscape,” or the micro view in a complex architectural detail, the thread of a new love letter is emerging, an appreciation for the city he has adopted as his own.