JOHN VALADEZ: Chaos Anime | KARLA DIAZ: Mujer Valiente y Los Diablitos (Brave Woman and the Little Devils)
1110 Mateo St. Los Angeles CA, 90021
Saturday, April 27 at 5:00 PM 8:00 PM
Ends Jun 8, 2024
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is very pleased to announce JOHN VALADEZ: Chaos Anime, the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery, featuring new paintings alongside recent works. The exhibition will be on view in Gallery 2, April 27 through June 8, 2024, with an opening reception on Saturday, April 27, from 5 to 8PM. A trailblazer of the early Chicano Arts Movement in the 1970s and 80s, John Valadez’s work has come to define an iconography of Chicano experience in the city by catalyzing its changing dynamics and reconstructing a mythical allegory that speaks to an alternate vision. Through a multidisciplinary practice spanning 45 years, encompassing documentary photography and portraiture, public murals, paintings, and pastel works, Valadez has cultivated a style that transcends genre designations. His work evokes a fluidity between multiple cultures and visual lexicons, effectively mirroring the unsettled experience of the Chicano identity. Valadez continues to pursue politically engaged work—a persistent voice championing generations of Chicano and Latinx communities. JOHN VALADEZ: Chaos Anime presents new paintings that address the shifting global dynamics and social climates facing new generations of Chicanos today, alongside recent works that revisit earlier themes. Together, the works exhibit the breadth of the artist’s social commentaries and further contextualize his lauded approach to painting. Drawing from current events, cultural histories, city life, and such experiences filtered through lucid dreaming, Valadez implements realism, mannerism, abstraction, and montage as a vehicle for allegory and satire to ignite a myriad of socio-political conversations. Themes of invisible borders, sublime skies, and tempestuous seas, and juxtapositions between reality and dreams and the natural world versus the consequences of human interferences, are but some of the constants throughout the trove of Valadez’s urban proverbs. A pivotal moment in Valadez’s new body of work is his extension of Chicano Movement principles, speaking to global matters of displacement, gentrification, economic disparities, famine, the environment, and geopolitics. The exhibition’s title work, Chaos (2024)—among his most impressive and important work to date—is a new mural-scaled painting that dismantles the binaries and clichés of “haves and have-nots” narratives. Compositionally split in two, the work is Valadez’s read on today’s state of the union, a horror vacui of crises weighing social violence, environmental, and economic issues. The allegory presents new perspectives on borders and speaks to new generations of Chicanos making reverse migrations from the US to Mexico in hopes of improved cultural connections and quality of life. Shipwreck Cruise (2024) presents a critique of tourism’s effect on locals and their environments. Against a tranquil open sea, suspended in the aftermath of an event we are left to imagine, an acidic skyline of yellows disrupts the sea and sky in a haze indistinguishable from sunrise, sunset, or pollution. The mysterious scene presents a conceptual background for us to locate our complicities, empathies, and apathies, and follow the lead of the basket-donning woman at the helm of the ship, looking to the horizon for new solutions. Other recent works, Bambi Negra (2018) and Piernas Anime (2017), exemplify different approaches to Valadez’s wry satire, where it is not always extended outward but also takes criticality inward, including self-reflection in the case of Bambi Negra, depicting one of his dreams, and the cultural ruminations of Piernas Anime, influenced by the many layers of gender dynamics of Southern California car show culture. Piernas Anime, translated as “anime legs,” exemplifies an alloy of Valadez’s influences from the futurism aesthetics present in Japanese Anime, to mannerism and surrealism. The painting presents a tableau that subverts the male gaze and machismo hierarchies of classic car shows. With symbols, figures, and activities occurring in the foreground and background, the paintings resist hierarchies and contain multiple entry points. The works in Chaos Anime mark an exciting moment in Valadez’s career. Radical and indefatigable, Valadez’s allegories, cutting satire, masterful color, and playful yet dead-panned pastiche bring a refreshed sensibility of endurance despite the capriciousness of time. John Valadez (b.1951, Los Angeles, CA) is a painter, photographer, and muralist living and working in Los Angeles. Valadez studied at East Los Angeles Junior College from 1970-72 and earned his BFA at California State University, Long Beach in 1976. Valadez was active in early impactful collectives such as Los Four and Centro de Arte Publico. Valadez’s critically acclaimed 35-year retrospective, Santa Ana Condition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA, traveled to the National Mexican Museum of Art, Chicago, IL, and the Vincent Price Museum, East Los Angeles College, CA. Valadez has exhibited in major canonical exhibitions contextualizing Chicano and Mexican-American art internationally and has numerous federal and state mural commissions throughout California, Texas, and France. Notable collections include the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Brooklyn Museum, NY; National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian, Washington, DC; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla, CA; The Cheech Marin Collection, Riverside, CA; The Mexican Museum, San Francisco, CA; The Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, FL; National Mexican Museum, Chicago, IL; Centre d’Art, Santa Monica, Barcelona, ES; El Centro Cultural Tijuana, BC, MX; Musée d’Aquitaine, Bordeaux, FR, amongst others. - Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is pleased to announce KARLA DIAZ: Mujer Valiente y Los Diablitos (The Brave Woman and The Little Devils), the artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery, on view from April 27 through June 8, 2024. An opening reception featuring a live musical performance of the artist’s own corrido (co-written with César Castro, Jarochelo, and Chuy Sandoval) will be held on April 27, 2024, from 5 to 8PM. Karla Diaz is known for her storytelling kaleidoscopic paintings, which she began making to chart memories, dreams, and whims during her recovery from a stroke. Her healing journey has resulted in a prolific series of works that have evolved into a playful yet formidable anthology of Latinx and Mexican-American experiences in Southern California. Diaz's surreal paintings chronicle a collective unconscious of cultural iconography, pop references, current events, and familial dynamics and traditions that shape the worldview of the artist and her communities. In Diaz's latest series, she expands her visual storytelling to encompass music and performance through the Northern Mexican genre of narrative ballads, the corrido. KARLA DIAZ: Mujer Valiente y Los Diablitos (The Brave Woman and The Little Devils) invites you to the artist's fantasy world of her alter ego, Mujer Valiente, the lead singer of the band, Los Diablitos, and their tour through various beloved locations in East LA, from Mariachi Plaza to Whittier Boulevard. The exhibition elaborates on the storytelling of the corrido, where the artist has flipped its traditional tropes to empower women. Historically, corridos have been used as a forum for oral histories and storytelling, facilitating social messages crooned by heroic men, where, in contrast, women are often nonexistent or mentioned in allegories warning against social deviance. Diaz's reinterpretation not only flips the gender roles but also brings new content to a genre that, in its contemporary moment, has had controversy and even legal ramifications for songs promoting illegal activities, narcotics, misogyny, violence against women, and femicide. Her artistic agency is a powerful testament to the strength and resilience of women, inspiring us all to challenge societal norms and reclaim our narratives. Through the lyrics—sung, performed, and vibrantly painted on canvas—we learn the story of the brave woman who does not even fear the devil (“no le teme ni al diablo”), and her determination and resilience in overcoming a broken heart. The storytelling in corridos, like many ballads, is abstracted and blends fact and probability with fiction and drama for effect. Diaz adapts this in full force—painting lyrics saturated in her distinctive palette of rainbow hues, dreamy washes, and colors that conjure the magic of cultural vernacular, from cheerfully painted neighborhood shops to bougainvillea pinks, cactus greens, colorful textiles, and concert costumes. In these works, the artist often assumes fantasy characters, taking up roles of power and positions that have typically been dominated by men, such as a corrido singer, a bullfighter, or a boxer. Amidst the paintings, the exhibition's installation also features a music video and a large painted backdrop that immerses viewers inside her imaginary concert hall. The narratives tell the story of the Latina artist who dreams of being a star and what it would be like to occupy positions of power that women often have little or no access to. Adapting the corrido genre to playfully carry mythical characters and woman-centered novellas of love, abandonment, and heartache with urgent and pressing social themes of protest, immigration, and political unrest. Diaz's works embrace, amplify, and provide an array of emotional releases through humor, earnestness, and nostalgia. Mujer Valiente reconstitutes the corrido as a space for radical discourse. The exhibition and corrido not only tell the story of an individual woman's strength but also celebrate her neighbors and friends who support and cheer for her—essentially, a love song for Diaz's community. Karla Diaz (b. 1976, Los Angeles) lives and works in Los Angeles, she received her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 2003 and a BA from California State University Los Angeles in 1999. Diaz is a co-founder, alongside Mario Ybarra Jr., of the collective and community artist space Slanguage in Wilmington, CA. Diaz’s works have been exhibited nationally and internationally at the 18th Street Art Center, Santa Monica, CA; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, LAXART, Hollywood, CA; Pitzer College, Claremont, CA; California State University Los Angeles, CA; San Jose Museum of Art, CA; Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL; Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, MI; the Serpentine Gallery, London, U.K.; and Museo Casa de Cervantes, Madrid, Spain. Her work is in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA, and Inhotim Museum, Brumadinho, Brazil. She has received numerous grants and awards from Art Matters, New York, NY; Tiffany Foundation, New York, NY; City of Los Angeles, CA; Riverside Art Museum, CA; and CalArts, Los Angeles, CA. For further information, including images and previews, please contact Gallery Director, Brianna Bakke at 213-395-0762, or Gallery Instagram: @luisdejesuslosangeles
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