July 16, 2014
Interview by Scott Indrisek
A former law student who began pursuing art only at age 30, Lerma employs painting and sculpture in installations that refer to place and history in eccentric ways. (His show earlier this year at Andrea Rosen Gallery in New York drew connections between the lead-up to the French Revolution and the 1980s professional tennis scene.) Born in Spain and raised in Puerto Rico, he's currently engaged in building what he calls a "still life" of Art Basel Miami Beach in the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, assembling the work over the course of the exhibition, titled ''La Bella Crisis," using found materials. Modern Painters executive editor Scott Indrisek spoke with Lerma on day four of his scrappy on-site experiment.
SCOTT INDRISEK: How did the Detroit show come about?
JOSE LERMA: When I looked at the space at MOCAD, it lent itself to something like an art fair. I put a bunch of white tarps dividing the space to look like booths. I shot a lot of images at Art Basel Miami Beach last year, of a certain group of galleries, and I'm using those to make works that re-create or are inspired by those images. I'm riffing on work I saw at the fair, changing it around and reinterpreting it. One image came from Nicole Klagsbrun; another came from Landau Fine Art, one of those very conservative galleries. They're works I can use; I don't know if I like some of them. There's a really nice Joan Miro that we're using to make a huge, 20-foot painting. I have a month to re-create my own version of Art Basel Miami. I went out trash collecting in Detroit, and I went to some thrift stores. The idea is to create this thing that kind of seems like an art fair but really looks like a gigantic painting. I'm doing one booth every day, with whatever I can find around me. I'm using paint, too-we had a lot of materials donated from the Mike Kelley "Mobile Homestead" show here, that they were getting rid of. It's essentially like a still life of an art fair.
SI: How exactly are you reinterpreting the original pieces?
JL: l find one of the images that l like-for instance, one is of work by a Conceptual artist from a Spanish gallery who collected hundreds of tourist postcards of sunsets. So I built a gigantic sunset using reflective fabric and junk
that l found that was yellow, to simulate of kind of floating space.
SI: Overall, how does the concept of an art fair play in a city like Detroit right now?
JL: I'm not interested in the art market. I was interested in the labor part of it-MOCAD used to be a factory. I wanted an artwork that allowed me to work in here, clock in at 9:00, get out at 5:00, and sort of make stuff: in between production and art. There's this pressure to produce, no matter what. That, to me, brought it into the spirit of the city, the history of it. The show is of Detroit, but not about Detroit. l normally work with the history of a place, but Detroit is very intimidating; so many people have talked about it. You would have to be from here and really know your stuff. Originally, I'd wanted to talk about Puerto Rico and the fact that both places are undergoing this major crisis. But I thought it might be too arcane or too obscure to talk about a place that's so remote. So I split the difference and picked Art Basel, since Miami is geographically sort of in the middle between Detroit and San Juan. The idea was to live here for a month, to gather as much as I could-to turn the museum into my studio.
SI: Are you working with local artists?
JL: No, it's just me and my assistant. I have an allergy to social practice and relational aesthetics. There's enough art like that, let's put it that way. I like the idea that it's an everyday struggle, trying to figure this out.
SI: Do you feel that San Juan and Detroit are similar, or only in the sense that they're both cities in trouble?
JL: My experience with Detroit is limited, but from what I've seen, it's an ideal place to make art-if you have some kind of avenue to show outside the city. Spaces are cheap; there are enough artists to have great conversations with. And in Puerto Rico, it happens that we're in the golden age for art of the island. We've never had as many artists with an international impact as we do today, and it comes at a time when Puerto Rico is in real financial trouble.
SI: Was there one specific thing that pushed the art scene along in Puerto Rico?
JL: There's a series of factors, but to me the most important was a woman named Michelle Marxuach . She started a residency called Fortaleza 302. That didn't last long, but she set up a series of three exhibitions, one every two years, bringing in international artists. They were interested in social practice, Conceptual art, contemporary versions of Situationism- things that could be done in the city. Later she did another show out in the country. She brought all these Puerto Rican artists living in Europe or the United States, and they all met each other, plus they got to meet the curators who came down. Out of that group you have people like Allora & Calzadilla, who represented the U.S. in the 2011 Venice Biennale; Chemi Rosado Seijo; Bubu Negron. It finally put Puerto Rico on the map. Now, a lot of artists are going out, getting MFAS, and coming back with all this new knowledge. That's good because it's more international, but bad in that it kills a regional spirit that existed before. But Puerto Rico is very Auid, there's constant traveling back and forth. It's not like leaving for another country, or migrating to the U.S., which is a real hassle. For Puerto Ricans, it's just a plane ticket.
SI: It seems as if Chicago and San Juan have a real back-and-forth connection.
JL: There's a huge Puerto Rican community in Chicago, but the real connection happened through the Art Institute. A painter named Arnaldo Roche went there, and for me and a lot of people, that was the first exposure to this idea, that there's this school in Chicago and maybe it's a good idea to go out there. People saw Roche succeed- he was the only artist in the '80s that I can remember who had major success outside t he island, in terms of exposure.
SI: You show with Roberto Paradise in San Juan, and will have an exhibition at the city's Museo de Arte Contemporaneo at some point next year. What will you do for that?
JL: Normally, it crystallizes much closer to the show for me. I kind of wanted it to be a second part of the Detroit show but hopefully it won't be this thing. It's been a pretty intense month.
July 2, 2014
named him recipient of a major commission for a public artwork as part of its initiative to
replace the Sixth Street Viaduct, which connects the Boyle Heights neighborhood—where Kaino
grew up—to the LA Arts District. In addition to that very large-scale public project, he’s
preparing for solo shows at Kavi Gupta and Honor Fraser, and big installations in Washington,
DC and New Orleans.
“I wanted to say that I am very excited and feel honored to have been selected for this project,”
Kaino said at a press conference. “I have such a great deal of respect for the communities on
both sides of the bridge and look forward towards making a project that resonates with them now
and for future generations. My practice has been about using art and the techniques associated
with art to make connections—between seemingly disparate materials, ideas, people, and even
histories. I can’t think of a more profound challenge to me than to create something meaningful
in a place that already means so much to me and everyone in Los Angeles.”
The Sixth Street Viaduct commission comes at a moment of intensified activity and heightened
visibility for Kaino. In September he’ll open an ambitious exhibition at Kavi Gupta titled
“Leviathan,” and install his sculpture Bridge (2013)—a freeze-frame like rendering of athletes
Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists in homage to the Black Panthers at the 1968
Olympic Games—in Washington, DC, as part of the public art exhibition
In October he’ll unveil a massive new installation in New Orleans as part of Prospect.3, which
we’re told will include military tanks and marine life. And, rounding out the Kaino calendar,
he’ll have his second solo show with LA’s Honor Fraser in early 2015.
June 27, 2014
McArthur Binion, Scott Reeder - "Another Look at Detroit," Marianne Boesky and Marlborough Chelsea Galleries
June 27, 2014
June 24, 2014
June 11, 2014
June 17, 2014
June 17, 2014
May 31, 2014
May 31, 2014
May 30, 2014
May 30, 2014
March 29 – September 14, 2014
Curated by Michael Stillion
May 29, 2014
May 28, 2014
Max Wigram Gallery
Michael E. Smith
June 6 - July 26
May 27, 2014
May 27, 2014
May 1, 2014
Tony Tasset - "Look at Me: Portraiture from Manet to the Present," at the Leila Heller Gallery, New York
May 1, 2014
April 30, 2014
May 3–Oct 5, 2014
Frida Kahlo is one of the most famous artists in the world. Her reputation and persona have grown immensely since her death in 1954, yet posthumously she has been turned into a stereotype of Latin American art. This predicament, along with her celebrity status, often overshadows the confrontational and boldly transgressive nature of her paintings, and ultimately undermines the revolutionary intent of her work. At the time it was made, Kahlo’s unabashedly intimate portrayal of her physical and psychological experiences and her appropriation of Mexican folk art aesthetics challenged the bourgeois European mainstream. The scale and content of her work also stood in opposition to the monumental, nationalistic history painting being produced by her male Mexican contemporaries. Her work subverted accepted notions of gender, sexuality, social class, and ethnicity, and was prophetic in anticipating the broader cultural concerns—postcolonialism, feminism, civil rights, multiculturalism, and globalization—that reached a crescendo in the 1960s and continue to be relevant today.
In 1978, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago presented Kahlo’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States. Using two of the works included in the original 1978 exhibition, Unbound: Contemporary Art After Frida Kahlo brings her work into a dialogue with contemporary art. The selected artists in this exhibition share Kahlo’s spirit of rebellion and similarly assert themselves against the patriarchy as they insert their voices into dominant artistic discourses. This exhibition highlights four themes in Kahlo’s paintings to examine their continued relevance to international artists: the performance of gender, issues of national identity, the political body, and the absent or traumatized body. The exhibition includes work by: Francis Alÿs and Enrique Huerta, Margot Bergman, Sanford Biggers, Louise Bourgeois, Martin Soto Climent, Eugenio Dittborn, Yang Fudong, Julio Galan, Nan Goldin, Thomas Houseago, Frida Kahlo, Nelson Leirner, José Leonilson, Ana Mendieta, Beatriz Milhazes, Donald Moffett, Celia Alvarez Muñoz, Wangechi Mutu, Shirin Neshat, Helio Oiticica, Catherine Opie, Gabriel Orozco, Angel Otero, Jack Pierson, Rosângela Rennó, Daniela Rossell, Doris Salcedo, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, and Valeska Soares.
Unbound: Contemporary Art After Frida Kahlo is organized by Curator Julie Rodrigues Widholm and Marjorie Susman Curatorial Fellow Abigail Winograd at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
May 29, 2014
It is with great pleasure that Andrea Rosen Gallery announces our fourth solo exhibition of José Lerma. Expanding a dialogue within the context of painting, Lerma’s work continues to evolve in its exploration of both the material and conceptual issues of painting through his innovative use of non-traditional materials and techniques. Drawing inspiration from his personal history and an interest in long-passed historical figures and events, Lerma creates work that expounds on the profound contingency of the present on the past, and how art and history share innate parallels of progression and innovation.