viernes, 1 de febrero de 2008


Enrique Chiu
Enrique Chiu is Gardea’s neighbor with a 2,000- square-foot studio above Utopia Restaurant at the corner of First and Linden. At the top of his stairs is a 1897 piano, above which is “Flamenco,” a painting of flamenco, tango, and salsa dancing, complete with his signature guitar. To its right is “La Loca,” a large canvas with mannequin parts and wild, red hair emerging from the paint.

Chiu’s colors are bold—a Mayan priest who for the uninitiated appears to be a blue angel with black, red-tipped wings. “He’s in anguish or ecstasy,” Chiu says. “He’s trying to express it, but cannot.”

Chiu is creating work for a February show about Mayans and neon. The novelty of such a marriage brings a spark to his eyes. But sure enough, all about his studio are paintings and sculptures of pre-Columbian gods intertwined with neon tubing. “I went to the Yucatan to see my dad’s family,” he says. “They all looked like Mayans. I love that culture.”

Yet his heritage is more complicated than that: His grandfather was Chinese, his grandmother Arabic, his mother’s family was from Spain, and his father has German and Italian blood as well. Born in Veracruz, Chui honors all his lineages, as both Buddhist and Catholic statuary pepper his shelves, and his books range from business and the Bible to massage and the kabbalah. Truly he is a cosmopolitan man who is fluent in English and Spanish, and speaks a little Portuguese.

The good-looking 34-year-old may not have a lot of time for romance in the traditional sense, since work seems to be his passion. Like Gardea, he is active in the East Village Arts District, which sponsors Artwalks the second Saturday of each month, 4-10 p.m. He runs C1D, which does the make-up, hair-styling, and photography for fashion shoots, portfolios, weddings, proms, and other special events. Cake decorating and catering can be added on, if needed. He creates neon signage for restaurants and cafes, as well as murals for commercial venues. At his C1D Gallery at 441 E. First St., he hosts monthly exhibitions through his nonprofit organization, the National Foundation of Independent Artists, showcasing talent from around the world. “The gallery is booked through June,” he says proudly.

What’s more, he is opening a gallery to showcase his own work in Guadalajara. And he has shows coming up in France and Italy this year. When he gets an extra moment—whenever that is—he studies French online in his cramped, book-laden office. “Keep learning, keep doing, never stop,” he says.

A portrait of the singer Sade looks down at him from the wall above his desk. It was painted by a man who murdered his wife in 1990 and has been in prison since. Chiu acquired the painting through the cousin of his best friend, who is Sade’s manager. The prisoner had given the painting to Sade in thanks for the clothing and other items she had donated to the prison. “He used his fingers to paint this,” Chiu says, explaining that prisoners are not allowed to have brushes, as they could be used as weapons. He is clearly impressed by the prisoner’s drive to create art despite these limitations, and perhaps the portrait serves as a daily prod to Chiu to push himself to his full potential.

Chiu says he gives no thought to cutting back on the make-up, hair-styling, and signage and simply concentrating on his gallery art. “I’m an electrician, a welder, a fashion designer, a graphic artist, a painter, a sculptor, a marketing person, a business man. I don’t want to give any of that up. It’s all art,” he says in defense of his many outlets for expression. “It’s all creating something.”

by Heidy Nye - Long Beach View Magazine

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