Meet the Artist // Gonzalo Morales Leiva

Gonzalo Morales Leiva is a visual artist from the city of Talca, southern Chile.

His practice involves photography, poetry and his reflections on the materiality of the contemporary city. “I have an archive of black-and-white analog photographs taken from cities that I have lived and visited around the world. I constantly analyse my archive and translate its visual characteristics into other artistic media such as drawing.”

What is your name and where are you from?

Gonzalo Javier Morales Leiva, Chile.

When / how did your art practice begin …. Do you think where you’re from has affected your work?

My artistic practice began in film school in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I studied to be a film director. I will forever love that experience, but what I enjoyed most was the scenography and costume design class. When I finished my degree I knew I wanted to be a visual artist and not a film director. At the age of 19 I left my parents’ home to live in the capital of Chile, Santiago. At 21 I went to live alone in Buenos Aires. After 5 years I returned to Chile. Last year I lived for a long time in Mexico City. I think that more than territory or where I live, what affects my way of creating, is that I am open to change, I have tenacity and I am very curious. What I mean is that I love to experiment with different media, materials and techniques. I am restless, constant and brave. I am not afraid to take new steps.

How has your practice changed over time? 

My inspiration starts from the reading of poetry and the taking of black and white analog photography of city details. In this way of work I realized how I was interested in abstract evocative images, ruins, geometry, lines that create drawings, simple objects with signs of decay. This process is like a life journal, but visually, where I have understood who I am and what happens inside me and how my inner world relates to the outside world, what catches my interest it has always been deeply connected with my life story. By analyzing this photographic archive I have developed the need of expanding my artistic work to disciplines such as drawing, sculpture and performance. I believe that performance has allowed me to unite my spiritual world with my artistic work. My performative drawings with my feet are spiritual channellings for which I prepare myself through meditation, prayer and chanting. In this way I achieve a state of mind that allows me to let it flow towards the final result. In Chile, there is a very strong tradition that unites mind, hand and drawing. I think my twist in this order is that I am working from the cosmic spiritual, not the mind, and my feet and drawing follow that channelling. I am preparing myself every day to be a better channel, a medium. My intention is that my drawings heal the people who experience my performances and the people who see the final result.

Do you think your art has evolved being a different environment E.g. Do you think GlogauAIR / being in Berlin has influenced your work?

My answer is a resounding yes. GlogauAIR for me was like a doctorate in drawing and performance. The complete physical space, the personal work studio, the visits of experienced curators, the dialogue with artists from different countries and different disciplines and the receptive attitude that I have cultivated over time, allowed me to grow so much. In fact, now that I am back in Chile, I am taking the time to get to know better the artist I am now after the residency. I want to take the opportunity to thank Nasia Papavasiliou, visual artist from Cyprus, for allowing us to have dialogues and collaborations where we could both positively influence each other’s creative work. And of course to thank the curator of GlogauAIR, Suzy Royal, for being a beautiful person who welcomed my every needs, artistic, emotional and spiritual. Sincerely, because of her and her advices, my experience at GlogauAir was all about artistic growth.

What are your next plans after your residency?

I am currently planning for a year full of good news. In July I will have my third solo exhibition in Mexico City. I want to bring a strong body of work. In the second half of the year, I will return to Berlin for two solo exhibitions. Both came about thanks to the networking that I was able to build thanks to GlogauAIR. In addition, back to Chile, I magically met the experienced 70 years old chilean artist Juan Castillo, a great inspiration in my art and he has invited me to his home in Sweden, where he has developed much of his art work and where he has created an artist residency. The invitation is to undertake the residency since he has been very impressed by my work that i had developed thanks to my residency at GlogauAIR. And to close, I have found a very large studio where I can do my large scale drawings and performances with freedom and peace of mind. I am seeing a very joyful and hopeful future.