The winning oil-tank design is...

The artist whose design may one day grace some of the oil tanks overlooking Portland Harbor is ... Jaime Gili. (His eye-bending Web site is here.)

He’s a dynamic Venezuelan-born painter living in London, who said at the announcement of his win, “I cannot imagine any bigger project,” and then moved right on to do just that: “I’d like to see my paintings taking over cities.”

See a slideshow of the proposal here:



It’s the work Portland Phoenix art reviewer Ken Greenleaf liked the best of the five finalists (see “Words Over Pictures,” September 5).

Greenleaf wrote then, “His abstract paintings contain strong contrasts and dynamic, almost explosive arrangements of sharp triangles. His proposal for the tank farm is his painting style writ very large, in many ways a relief from the other competitors’ attempts at relevance. ... Based on what I have seen so far, the one design I would most want to drive past on a regular basis would be Gili’s. It’s simple, dynamic, and based on itself. Of the five semifinalists, it would have the most staying power.”

Marc Bessire, director of the Bowdoin Bates College Museum of Art, said he looks forward to looking at what he called “the most beautiful gestural graffiti art that’s been planned” as he drives by the tanks twice a day on his way to and from work. He says the slashes or “splinters” in Gili’s work represent “energy,” whether “the energy of the oil” or “of the Maine coast” or “of our working port.”

Even though the artist has been picked, the work is far from over. Maine Center for Creativity founder and executive director Jean Maginnis said that in addition to the $200,000 already raised to get to this phase of the project, she needs to raise $1.2 million more to actually put paint on steel.

Maginnis said that should take two and a half to three years, and only then would painting begin. (See “It’s Not About The Art,” by Jeff Inglis, September 5.)

Gili, who was given $20,000 as a monetary prize, is in town for another few days, before heading back to London for that city’s annual arts fair. He expects to be back in Portland sometime next year, and is hoping to set up a summertime exhibition of some of his works at a local gallery. “Ideally, I’d like an industrial space,” he said.

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