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CARVING LIFE IN A SELF THAUGHT DRAWINGS

Gil Batle was born and raised in San Francisco to Filipino parents, in and out of five different California prisons over 20 years for fraud and forgery, now living on a small island in the Philippines. Batle’s self-taught drawing ability evolved behind bars into sophisticated and clandestine tattooing skills that protected him from murderous gang violence in prisons such as San Quentin, Chuckawalla, and Jamestown— the “Gladiator School,” as it’s known to the unfortunate cognoscenti. Where Bloods, Crips, and Aryan Brotherhood gang-bangers in racially segregated cell-blocks rule with intimidation and threat, Batle’s facility for drawing was considered magic by the murderers, drug dealers, and armed robbers whose stories he now recounts in minutely carved detail on fragile ostrich egg shells. “I actually have to go back (mentally) to prison to capture that feel of being inside that place,” writes the artist. “It’s a relieve of gratitude when I look up from the egg and I’m reminded that I’m not in there anymore.”


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