I was heading to the café to get a cup of perfectly brewed coffee, when I walked by Qube Gallery at Crossroads and a collection of large-scale paintings caught my attention. It featured mostly children, and as I gazed closely at how beautifully appealing and intricate the artwork was, I had to know who created them. As it turned out, Golda King created these richly colorful abstract images of kids.
Over the holidays, I asked her, are they her favorite subject? “Yes. I think I see in children what I secretly want for myself: simple joys, the freedom of not having to worry about the future, to be able to smile the kind of smile that reaches the eyes, not having to mask failures and insecurities, and all that stuff,” Golda shares. “Children symbolize time: the past, present, future. They are a reminder that time cannot be replaced, that the past is meant to be as it is, and that you are responsible for the future you want to create for yourself.”
Golda was first exposed to visual arts through the insistence of her mom to join workshops when she was about seven years old. As she grew older, summer art workshops became private art classes, where she was mentored by renowned names in the local art community. “My first art teachers were Celso Pepito, Kimsoy Yap, and Budoy Marabiles,” she recalls.
She went on to pursue a painting degree at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, and returned to Cebu about five years ago to become one of the artists to watch in Cebu. She has been working on a series of portraits seeped in landscape, and abstract figures alongside other paintings for exhibits. The most recent one was on display in Qube Gallery in February this year, a collection of 23 pieces that took her a year to finish.
Golda admits that, like many other painters, she can’t paint on a whim—she has to sit and think about what she wants to paint and why she wants to paint it. There is a lot of introspection involved, and a lot of decision-making. “I work on each of my paintings until I am satisfied with them. So I think it’s safe to say that I don’t put out work that I am not happy with,” she says. “From start to finish—this includes several color studies, to letting layers dry in between washes and dots, the final stroke—it takes a month or two for smaller pieces, and about three months to a year for larger scale paintings.”
Locally, Golda is drawn to the pieces of Marina Cruz, Elaine Navas and Manuel Ocampo, but cites Connor Harrington, Adrian Ghenie, Anthony Micallef, Ben Quilty, Hung Liu, Kiki Smith, Marlene Dumas, Lucian Freud, and Anish Kapoor as her inspirations internationally.
Paintings are popular these days because of their thought-provoking nature. A lot of people value them according to how they can spark a conversation with friends or colleagues. Since art is a very subjective concept, different people will have different tastes and preferences—for Golda, she appreciates a painting when she sees layers. “It makes me want to look longer, and when I look longer, I start to see the play of colors. I start to understand what stories the paint is trying to conceal or share,” she explains. “I like there to be a sense of honestly, vulnerability, a little bit of grit and raw-ness, mystery. I think any artwork that makes you feel something is a good piece of artwork.”
For anyone dreaming of becoming a painter, Golda says not to be afraid of making mistakes—that’s just part of the creative process. “In painting, keep making mistakes. Don’t be afraid of making them. This is how to figure out your own style, or a technique that works for you. Mistakes will make you, you,” she declares. “Focus on yourself and paint what you know, paint what you understand. Also, there’s no such thing as a starving artist—you only starve if you don’t work hard enough. Don’t stop creating. People may or may not like your work, but just keep on working anyway.”
It’s great advice. As for me, I finally got that cup of coffee, but this time, I choose to enjoy it while continuing to admire Golda’s beautiful paintings.
- Photography by Oliver Echevarria