Latest Stories

‘Jusi’ paintings track Quirino granddaughter’s ‘Road of Silence’ homeward


IT IS backbreaking work, but painting on jusi is a very gentle process that Marissa Gonzalez enjoys.

Marissa Gonzalez’s latest paintings are hand-painted on jusi, the raw silk material used for barong Tagalog and other formal Filipino wear. The suite of works will be exhibited in “The Road to Silence,” at Ayala Museum’s New ArtistSpace, with opening-day cocktails on Feb. 1, 6 p.m.

Born in the Philippines, Marissa had her early education at the Assumption Convent, with adolescent years spent in Madrid when her father, Ambassador Luis Gonzalez, headed the Philippine diplomatic mission there. Her mother was the late Vicky Quirino-Delgado (whose first husband was Luis Gonzalez); she is a granddaughter of President Elpidio Quirino.

She works in Geneva at the International Organization for Migration (IOM). She studied silk-painting techniques with Eliette Pignard in France, and drawing techniques with Maitre J.P. Grelat in Geneva.

Why jusi?

Jusi reminds her of the Philippines: “It is found only here, unlike watercolor paper, cardboard, wood and canvas, which can be found anywhere. That is why after each trip to Manila, I return with yard after yard of jusi.”

As a medium, jusi has its advantages as well: “It has the smooth and sensual feel of silk, without the smearing of paint and the lightness of watercolor on paper. It gives the illusion of being very delicate, but is strong enough to be worn, washed and ironed day in and day out, not to mention embroidered, and now painted.”

Process and technique

Her works are basically watercolors on fabric. The paint used is fabric paint especially formulated for silk and wool.  The wetting agent is not water but alcohol, which means the artist has to work fast because the paint dries faster.  The techniques used are: batik; wet-on-wet, wet-on-dry straight painting.

She follows the dimensions of the material, with normal weft width of 93 cm (36 in, or one yard).  The length varies, but not longer than 150 cm (59 in).

No matter how large the works are, they do not take up so much space, as they are thin and float in the wind. This gossamer, almost ethereal quality is what she appreciates most in the jusi material.

MARISSA Gonzalez

The challenges encountered while painting with this medium are not insignificant.  Because they are watercolors, she cannot paint the images layer by layer.

The margin for error is practically zero.  One has to load the brush with just the right amount of paint, or else there will be smears, paint runs and bleeds.

She also has to paint fast, to avoid watermarks that can ruin a painting.

Because of the size and the material, she paints while seated on the floor with the jusi tacked on a support to stretch it out, and it is quite tiring on the back.

She starts with light colors and finishes with dark ones, which is the exact opposite of acrylic- and oil-painting techniques.

It is backbreaking work, but painting on jusi is a very gentle process that the artist obviously enjoys.

Jusi paintings must not be exposed to direct sunlight, just like with a watercolor.  If one wishes to frame the painting, it should be protected with a passé-par-tout border, and should be kept from direct contact with the glass.

“STRASBOURG Cathedral Rose Window”

Jusi paintings are actually best kept as wall hangings, as the artist intended them to be.

Childhood in Europe

The years spent in Europe are remembered with fondness: “My first friends were the children of the famous matadors Luis Miguel Dominguin and Antonio Ordoñez.  Most Sundays were spent in the bullring of Las Ventas in Madrid, where we were educated on the finer points and structure of a corrida. The visuals, the ambience, the people, the noise, the music and the sheer tension left an indelible memory in my mind.”

There are “olfactory memories,” too. “I will never forget the smell of the lavender flowers in our garden, or the residual scent of incense in a church.  Falling asleep in the garden under a huge and leafy tree on a balmy summer day is also a favorite memory.

“Looking at the sky and watching for falling stars was something I also remember sharing with my sisters and friends.  Our father was an avid road traveler, and each free moment we had, we were on the road visiting other cities in Spain and other countries in Europe.”

Long drives are still a favorite pastime that Marissa enjoys with her life partner Leo and daughter Audrey.

It was a charmed life with her family in a foreign city, with old and newfound friends: “Memories of growing up in a city where taking public transport was safe, and where the weekend challenge was how to stretch my allowance to include a bus ride, a movie ticket and my favorite merienda with my best friend, weave the fabric of a young teenager who danced in teenie-bopper afternoon discos. The elder adolescent felt the thrill of dancing in a sophisticated night disco, dancing the night away to the passion of flamenco, and feasting on churros con chocolate as dawn broke.”

Of her Vigan roots: “I will never forget a trip I made with my Pacis and Mendoza relatives during the fiesta. It was like going back in time into another world and another century where time stood still.”

Interior journey

“The Road to Silence” is a testament to the things Marissa loves: “architectural subjects, and those that inspire peaceful and spiritual thoughts.”

There are a number of rosette windows: intricate and colorful, and a means to enlightenment, just as they were designed for Medieval and Renaissance cathedrals.

“My biggest challenge is how to apply the right amount of shadow for the light to come out,” she said. “That is also the way to bring out the volume in the objects.”

Gonzalez is enamored with tromp l’oeil: “My ambition is to be a hyperrealist.  When people say my work looks like a picture, I am flattered, not upset, for that is what I am striving for.”

Having exhibited in group shows since 1995, and in solo shows in Geneva, New York and Helsinki, Gonzalez has always wanted to have a solo exhibit in Manila.

“BARCELONA City Hall Courtyard”

Many years ago, she visited the late Sonia Ner, curator of Ayala Museum, together with her mother and sister Ruby. Sonia, whom she considers a friend and mentor, gave her advice on how to organize a show.  This exhibition at the New ArtistSpace is a realization of that dream, and a return to family and friends, and a part of her peregrinations.

And why does she paint?

“It focuses me.  It centers me.  It calms me and makes me happy.  If I do not paint, I get sad after a few days.  It is a way of life now, like eating and sleeping.  It validates me and it assuages my many insecurities. It balances me and gives purpose to my life.   It challenges me.”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Art , Jusic , Lifestyle , Marissa Gonzalez , paintings

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  3. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  4. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  5. Almost mugged on Chino Roces Avenue
  6. Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  7. How healing waters accompanied my journey of faith
  8. ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  9. Palawan favorite getaway of show biz celebrities
  10. Joe de Venecia visits the Queen Mother of Cambodia
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  6. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  7. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  8. This is not just a farm
  9. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  10. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  6. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  7. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  8. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  9. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?


  • DPWH to push for total rehabilitation of fire-damaged Quezon Bridge
  • Fires hit Manila’s Port Area, Malabon
  • Palace denies convincing Gigi Reyes to return home
  • Car hits packed US church, injuring about 20
  • LPA enters PH, to bring rains and thunderstorms
  • Sports

  • Reigning champs Miami open playoffs with win
  • Spurs subdue Mavericks in playoff opener
  • Wawrinka beats Federer to win Monte Carlo Masters
  • Ageless Hopkins pitches 50-50 Mayweather deal
  • Goodbye MGM, Las Vegas for Pacquiao?
  • Lifestyle

  • Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Entertainment

  • Discovery network cancels Everest jump
  • ‘Captain America’ stays strong atop US box office
  • Easter musings
  • Solenn in shorts
  • Unmerry mix of attention-calling moves on ‘Mini-Me’ TV tilts
  • Business

  • Oil prices down in quiet Asian trade
  • Asian shares mixed in holiday-thinned trade
  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Bataan freeport investment pledges up 1,302%
  • Golden Week
  • Technology

  • PH has slowest internet in Southeast Asia
  • Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks 25th anniversary
  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • Obama on mission to quiet Asia skeptics
  • Search for Etihad passengers launched
  • Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • OFW died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family