When it comes to housing, every city has its own subculture—and its own particular set of standards for the privileged and the aspiring. New York has its co-ops, Miami its gated communities, and in Los Angeles, of course, it’s all about the lawn and the pool, a little piece of the great outdoors to be owned, tamed, and landscaped to perfection. The latter concept is prominently featured this year at Charlie James Gallery’s booth at PULSE Miami Beach. Charlie James is an L.A. gallery, and the two artists it’s showing, Ramiro Gomez and Eske Kath, share what might be considered an Angeleno perspective on the complex concept of “home,” which is interesting, considering that one of them is European and lives in Brooklyn.
It’s easy to see the commonality between Gomez and Kath, both visually and thematically. Both artists’ paintings feature houses, scenes from domestic life, and the outdoor landscapes that surround them—but rendered in a bright color palette, and often in matte textures, that lend a surreal air to otherwise familiar images.
Gomez comes by the theme quite naturally. Born to immigrants in southern California, he attended the California Institute of the Arts and has worked as a live-in nanny for a family in Beverly Hills, during which time he had ample opportunities to observe firsthand the intimate and complicated dynamics between the heads of house and their staff. These observations inspired his “Domestic Scenes,” a series of acrylic paintings portraying pools being cleaned, lawns being mowed, a tired housekeeper taking a break, shopping lists and cleaning supplies. Using advertisements from design magazines as a basis, Gomez adds in domestic workers to the scene, showing the labor behind the glossy image. Incisive and Hockney-esque, his work has already caught the attention of major media outlets including the Washington Post, NPR, the Los Angeles Times, and CNN.
Kath, in contrast, approaches American ideals from an outsider’s perspective: the Danish artist studied at Royal Danish Academy of Art in Copenhagen before moving to Brooklyn. Whereas the ominous feel in Gomez’s work relates to the people within a house, Kath addresses the conflict between man and nature. In his vibrant paintings and sculptures, the house isn’t just a house, but a symbol of humankind—a structure that’s under constant threat of danger and catastrophe, even as humans attempt to control the world outside. If Gomez’s paintings challenge the viewer to consider the responsibility of one man to another, Kath’s work pushes us to consider the human’s responsibility to the environment—both salient and timely issues, in Los Angeles and everywhere else.
Visit Charlie James Gallery at PULSE Miami, Booth C8, Dec. 4–7, 2014.