San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

For Painter, Time Tells a Story

IN the art world, 41 is considered ayoung age to be considered a great painter,but luckily Leonel González got a head start.González began painting at age 12 andlater trained in Russia, toured in Europe.Now, he found a theme to unify his work:“Absence and Time in Painting,” which ison display at Galeria 11-12 in BarrioEscalante, east of downtown San José. Hespeaks about it with a poetic passion.“My work displays the irony of the conceptof painting in civilization,” Gonzálezsaid.Before cameras were invented, peoplewanted portraits painted to transcend time.But time changes the paintings, so the imagecannot remain true, González said.Depending on the type of paint used, somecolors become bolder and others fade away,much like the details of a memory.“I’m using the theme of the Caribbeanand blacks because they have not been representedin art as a social group,” he said.“There is an emptiness to fill. They have notbeen a protagonist in history and paintingallows me to speak about this. In realitywhat I want to say is more philosophical:Painting is where man puts his hopes to lastthroughout time.”GONZÁLEZ has been showing hiswork exclusively at Galeria 11-12 for a yearand his work is also for sale. Prices rangebetween $2,000-4,000depending on the size.Mario Matarrita, thegallery’s director, saidGonzález is an excellent artist– technically and conceptuallyspeaking – especially consideringhis young age.“Hopefully we can keephim here for years to come,”Matarrita said. “His work haschanged a lot, but it hasremained the same.”“Technically and conceptuallyit remains the same, onlythe themes change,” Matarritasaid, alluding to González’sconstant use of palimpsest, ornewer layers painted upon theolder layers.A body of work maychange over time, a paintingmay change over time andpeople change over time,although they remain essentiallythe same, said Matarrita“PAINTINGS just werenot as trustworthy as theywere believed to be,”González said.González’s displayedwork features black women ofthe Caribbean. The paintingsare all from this year, but theyalso represent a metaphor of how time canchange a painting.The paintings show how missing detailscan alter an image. The flat black used forthe figures of the women has no volume –the only feature remaining on their emptyfaces are colorful lips.“He has always been really great withcolors,” Matarrita said.The background colors used in his paintingsseem as if they were once bright andinviting, but have now faded, while the colorof the women’s lips, painted fingernails andtoenails seems to almost glow. The coloringis purposefully uneven and distorts the realityof the women.“This exhibit is just a point of departure,”González said. “Having found thisthread that ties my painting to time, it hasgiven me more clarity to be able to do mywork in the coming years.”ENTRANCE to the gallery is free.Galeria 11-12 is located 200 meters east and100 meters north of the Farolito, in BarrioEscalante.For more info, contact Galeria 11-12 at280-8441 or e-mail

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