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Review: "Artifex" at Koplin Del Rio Gallery

June 13, 2013|By Sharon Mizota
  • Einar and Jamex de la Torre, "Quiceanera Universal," 2013, hand blown glass, mixed media on lenticular panel, 39.5" x 39.5" x 7.75".
Einar and Jamex de la Torre, "Quiceanera Universal," 2013,… (Courtesy of Koplin Del Rio…)

“Artifex,” at Koplin Del Rio, is a group exhibition of Chicano artists that claims to transcend Chicano identity. It’s not clear exactly what this means, but the show draws some nice connections between artists who are far-flung except, of course, for their Chicano identities. Have we come so far that it is surprising to find Chicano artists have something in common? Or is it proof that there is something called “Chicano art”?

At any rate, there is a sympathetic vibration between Shizu Saldamando’s delicately drawn portraits of her hip young friends and Harry Gamboa Jr.’s black and white photographs of his Chicano male buddies. Saldamando’s figures, often isolated on plain white grounds, pay an unusually quiet, sustained attention to the lives of marginalized club kids and punks. Gamboa Jr. photographs his friends—mostly artists, scholars and teachers—on dark street corners, playing against the stereotype of the dangerous “urban” Chicano.

FULL COVERAGE: 2013 Spring arts preview

Einar and Jamex de la Torre’s dizzying, lenticular collages of media and art imagery form amazingly deep, shifting spaces populated with acid-bright food, creepy dolls, or ever proliferating images of the virgin and child. Reminiscent of Day of the Dead altars, these shimmering surfaces are topped with fanciful blown glass pieces that further confuse and overload the eye. No less hallucinatory are John Valadez’s surreal paintings and pastels. One depicts a pale nude standing serenely on the back of a crouching brown woman as waves crash around her. If the de la Torres have repurposed mass imagery for the altar, Valadez has brought the class-consciousness of the Chicano movement straight onto Botticelli’s beach.

Koplin Del Rio, 6031 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 836-9055, through July 6. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.koplindelrio.com

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