Rear View of Fifty

About José Lerma

Claiming that “all art is about other art and about your parents,” José Lerma produces layered, exuberant mixed-media paintings, combining art-historical and biographical references into compositions at once abstract and figurative, humorous and dark, chaotic and controlled. In 2002, Lerma abandoned installation, video, and photography to focus on painting, a medium he has been exploring conceptually and materially ever since. As he explains: “I make paintings and works about painting.” Lerma’s influences—including R. Crumb, Pablo Picasso, Piero della Francesca, and Bruce Nauman—are as wide-ranging as his work. In addition to using paper and canvas, he has drawn and painted on office carpeting and towels and incorporated a metal cabinet and synthesizers into his compositions. Portraits of male figures recur in his works—simultaneously recognizable and obscured, they reveal both the process and the illusion of painting.

Spanish, b. 1971, Seville, Spain, based in Chicago, Illinois and Brooklyn, New York