New American Paintings/Blog

Museum Admission: José Lerma at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago by New American Paintings

Engaging all the melodrama and frivolity of commemorative portraiture, José Lerma’s most recent exhibition, currently on view at the MCA Chicago, challenges the long-since relevant historical relationship between social status and painting. Fitting the museum with a number of works ranging from painting, sculpture, and installation, Lerma combines the pomp and splendor of honorary gestures with the sharp and undercutting wit of his overly embellished, and stylized method. Beginning in the entrance, on either side of the main lobby, monumental-scaled paper portraits hint at parade floats – the two pieces entitled Marjorie Looks at Marianne and Marianne Looks at Marjorie, refer to the patrons each lounge was named after, though it would take a certain degree of rationalization to come upon those resemblances. The large inflatable masses of color have the effect of being weightless and full of air, though they lack a celebratory attitude. Made out of photographers’ backdrops, the theatrical material quality of the busts suggests a projected read over a definitive statement. Likewise, the faces are featureless and empty, and the smooth contours of the hollow paper shell are foregrounded as equally as the figures they suppose to represent – a sculpture bound to face itself indefinitely in a farcical tête-à-tête. – Stephanie Cristello, Chicago Contributor

Installation view, BMO Harris Bank Chicago Works: José Lerma, MCA Chicago, July 2 – December 3, 2013. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

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Striking a Chord with Portraiture: José Lerma at Andrea Rosen by openstudiospress
January 21, 2011, 1:37 pm
Filed under: Art World | Tags: , , , ,

José Lerma, The Glib Decade, 2010 | Acrylic and silicon caulk on canvas, oil, acrylic, urethane, pen and graphite on linen, two synthesizers, speakers, 94.5 x 140 x 22.75 inches. Courtesy Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.

It might be the coolest conceptual application to the exhibition of paintings that I can remember. For his current solo show of paintings in New York, José Lerma has placed a few works directly on electronic keyboards, with the paintings themselves playing the haunting synthesizer chords that echo throughout the space.

Lerma’s exhibition at Andrea Rosen Gallery, I am Sorry I am Perry, is a portraiture show, but not in any recognizable sense. The bureaucrats loosely depicted in each painting take a backseat to the qualities of paint itself, and applications such as the keyboard paintings point to the individual personality of each work rather than their subjects. It’s a smart move, and the show is full of them. More after the jump! —Evan J. Garza

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