The skull shells of Gregory Raymond Halili are just that – gorgeous, luminous, anatomically perfect human skulls carved and painted onto small shells. He uses oil paint on raw, gold-lip and black-lip Philippine mother-of-pearl oyster shells and the natural shape of the mollusks echo and complement perfectly the lines of a skull.
When a shell is shorter or smaller – some profiles show just the upper teeth, while others comprise the whole jaw. Gregory’s skill and vision are first-rate – these are tightly rendered beauties, iridescent and burnished to a shining glow. The tiny imperfections and flaws of each shell remain – adding nuances and personality, each creating an individual one-of-a-kind edition. Beautiful subtle sepias, golds and steel blues contrast with pearly whites, much like fine long-lost antiquities or gleaming pirate treasures, waiting to be discovered.
Gregory’s upcoming exhibition “Memento” opens October 30th at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery and will feature his skulls as well as an earlier series of eyes, also painted on mother of pearl. He traces the circadian rhythm of sleep to waking, the eye is closed, slowly opens in a progression of circles and ellipses, opens wide, and then slowly closes at the end of each cycle.
“Throughout history humans have believed the eye is the window to the soul. I am interested in the idea of how the eye can transcend religion, become universal and evoke emotion.” - Gregory Raymond Halili
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