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Two Coats of Paint

Drawing portfolio: Tamara Gonzales

By Sharon Butler

January 19, 2017

In her second solo show at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, Tamara Gonzales presents a colorful series of pencil drawings that conjure Peruvian textiles and embroidery. She first visited Peru in 2013 to see Machu Picchu. “Ever since seeing Keep the River on Your Right I’d wanted to visit Machu Picchu,” Gonzales told me recently in an email exchange.

She fell in love with the Sacred Valley, which stretches from Machu Picchu to Pisac. “The area is physically stunning, with the flowing Urubumba River surrounded by large mountain peaks that are called ‘Apus’ for the Quechua mountain spirits said to inhabit them. The valley is lush and cultivated, and the feeling reminded me of a gentler India.”

When traveling Gonzales always takes small sketchbooks, pencils, and watercolors. She started this series of drawings at her studio upstate. “I was very intentionally making a group of works on paper. I just kept  thinking of new ways to make marks–not letting myself get stuck. My mantra was ‘keep going.’” The images are from her imagination, but she admits they are undoubtedly influenced by the imagery she experienced on her trips to Peru.  “The area around Cuzco is renowned for its textiles,” she told me, “which are, let’s say, always broadcasting.”


Also on view in the exhibition are several new large-scale paintings and a beautiful series of brightly-colored wool tapestries made by Peruvian artisans who worked from photographs of Gonzales’s  work.