From JT Gonzales: Tips when buying art

WORDSWORTH - Mons Romulo - The Philippine Star
From JT Gonzales: Tips when buying art
Gallery owner JT Gonzales.
STAR/ File

When we asked lawyer JT Gonzales what made him retire and put up an art gallery, his immediate reply was “ Pandemic realizations. I thought, if Covid struck me down right now, I would not die happy.” After a stint in corporate law, and despite his totally unrelated degrees in economics and law from the University of the Philippines and the University of Michigan, JT established gallery. sort of an independent art space to serve as a platform for and promote “regional, emerging and queer” artists.

JT happily shares with us that he is constantly inspired by our young artists, that despite the odds, they create and they hope.

Gonzales during the recent solo exhibit of Mark Weigh (center) and rising star Ryan Uy.

People who had played a big role in his love for art were artists Charlie Co and Raymond Legaspi. When asked what his guiding principle in life is he tells us, “ Be fair, try to help. But respect my personal space.”

JT has been curating for various galleries, including Qube and Modeka, while writing his column for Philippine Star affiliate, The Freeman. He has also served as contributing editor to various publications.

  1. Your gut reaction to the artwork. How does it make you feel? Does it give you a sense of wonder? Or a thrill of delight? Is it uncomfortable? Does it make you pause and think? Is it something you want to look at for the rest of your foreseeable future?
  2. The story behind it. What was the artist thinking? Where was he? Who was around him? Who were influencing him? What’s he trying to say? Is he achieving it?
  3. And that means, one has to relate to the artist himself. What were his circumstances? How did he manage to create art despite the handicaps life hobbled him with? How did he access the art world? Or is he from a privileged background? Is everything he does, high-brow and cultured, or even pretentious?
  4. The curator in me always thinks. Where will this go? Will it stand by its glorious self? Or will it complement others and lend luster to equally gorgeous works?
  5. What kind of effort went behind the artwork? Was the artist lazy or did he put in tedious, painstaking hours of his life to realize a vision
  6. Where is the artist now in his career? Is he stagnant, just relying on his laurels and churning out the same hits over and over? Or is he evolving and whipping out ever-more-fantastic visions? Is it early in his career, and his works are a welcome breath of fresh air, and the possibilities are just infinit
  7. What materials were used? Ephemeral watercolors? Brilliant acrylics? Sensuous oils? Crazy media like peacock feathers and butterfly wings? Or his own blood with hospital discards
  8. What were the motivations of the artist? Is he here to perfect his craft? Or is he just around for the Instagram likes and the dough? Is he out on social media just hyper-promoting himself, and seeking to hoodwink a gullible public?
  9. Is the artist a one-hit wonder, or does he have longevity? Will he stick around and burnish his name with ever greater accomplishments? Or will he take the money and run.
  10. And perhaps, the last. Can you live with yourself if you don’t bring this one home right this minute? Will you regret the non-acquisition for the rest of your life? Or will you be thankful you didn’t give in to the devil?
    At the 2023 Art Taipei with ceramic artist Yang Zong Jia.


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