a stroke from the heart

"Mi Reina" by Chilean artist Liliana Wilson. Wilson's work will be on view at Joan Grona Gallery through November 27.

Chilean artist Liliana Wilson draws hope

Like her fellow countryman, poet Pablo Neruda, artist Liliana Wilson began to express herself artistically before she fully understood what she was communicating. "When I was a child they used to consider me very spaced out because I would just draw and draw," she recalls. "I was actually working, doing projects on my own, like researching things without knowing. I had copy books - piles of them - that I drew completely from page one to the end. I would sit up in bed and draw for hours." After more than 40 years of drawing, Wilson believes that she can draw anything.

Inspired by the simplified realism and surrealism of artists Jose Bedia, George Tooker, and Julie Speed, as well as San Antonio artists Terry Ibañez and Kathy Vargas, Wilson first draws her vision in stunning detail. After "tightening up" the composition in the drawing, she allows the subject to evolve as it moves to the canvas, sometimes with unexpected results. One such subject, "La Caida del Angel" ("The Fall of the Angel"), shows a boy, the recent casualty of war, recuperating from his sudden death. Still in his street clothes, with newly formed wings, he sits on the floor with one hand covering his face. In the drawing, the moment of the boy's transition to the afterlife is captured while his wound is still bleeding from the wing. In the painting, the boy has not yet moved but his transition has further evolved and he is seen in more peaceful surroundings, his wing healed. What the viewer experiences between the two pieces is the sense of the passing of the fleeting moment in which change happens without one realizing it.

Universos Divinos: Liliana Wilson
11am-5pm Wed-Fri, 11am-6pm Sat,
noon-4pm Sun
November 4-27
Opening reception:
6-9pm Thu, Nov 4
Joan Grona Gallery
112 Blue Star
"Because it comes so much from the depth of me, how I experience things, ultimately I am each one of these paintings," Wilson said. "These are the experiences that I have felt." During the process of creating her most recent images, Wilson described the philosophy that is evident throughout the show and in the Angel pieces especially: "I've come to realize that we are part of the universe. I didn't think that before; I thought we were separate individuals that had to struggle to eat or whatever was necessary to escape from a dictatorship or whatever."

Wilson lived in Chile during the reign of dictator General Augusto Pinochet. "You learned how to send your message in a veiled way because you want to keep making it," she explains. This dual meaning is precisely what makes each piece both visually powerful and emotionally personal. "I'm trying to make them beautiful," she agrees. "Now, the message that `the viewers` get doesn't matter to me; it's between the painting and the viewer. I do it from whatever I feel but they are going to relate to it from a human way and so the literal story doesn't matter.

"Each piece is its own universe. They are divine in the way that we are all part of this whole thing and, to me, divine because we are just passing through ... If I could just help people to have more hope. You know, life is not this dreadful thing ... It's about other things, like respect, like grace, like love - especially love. My work is all about love ... Every brush stroke is an act of love."

By Glynis Christine