In his paintings, Lerma employs images of Baroque style portraits of historical, famous French Bankers from the 18th Century, which are signified by wigged portraits. The artworks in this exhibition are monumental, featuring a liberal use of brush strokes, doodles, and highlights of paint to underscore the sketch-like quality of the drawings. By distorting and often erasing the features of the faces, only leaving profiles or frontal views of wigs, Lermaâ€™s work also references the paintings of Francis Bacon and Philip Guston.
On-the-road Series: Artist Studio Visit
By Ester Ippolito and Monica Salazar, Berlin Art Link
Jose Lermaâ€™s work relies on a compendium of mediums, references, and elements that combine his personal history and his extensive academic accolades to his awareness of social history. The artist originally migrated from Spain to Puerto Rico and now lives between Chicago and Brooklyn, and has multiple degrees in law and art. It is his ability to combine and collapse facets of history that is best presented in his works now on view in â€śI am sorry. I am Perryâ€ť at Andrea Rosen.
In his paintings, Lerma makes a trend of using images of Baroque style portraits of historical, famous French Bankers from the 18th Century, which are signified by the wigged portraits in some his studio pieces. He started drawing the characters over and over after shooting photographs of them while in law school. The pieces for this exhibition are monumental, somewhat decadent in liberal use of strokes, doodles and highlights of paint. The pastel colors add a lightness to the pieces that works well with the harshness of the profiles of these historically brutal, old bankers.
Lerma places his large works on electronic keyboards as a way of combining previous elements of his oeuvre and collapsing the work together. In a way, it is as if the paintings become active participants in the art. However, beyond this, there is no added meaning to the pianos, a fact stressed with the daily changing of the musical tones the pianos play.
Through the use of acrylic spray paint on canvas, he is able to reproduce the aesthetic of highlighters and pen scratchings on a paper pad in his monumental paintings. He uses this doodling as reference to boredom by taking the tiny gesture of a repetitious action and blowing it up, as evident in the droning electronic keyboard noise and the somewhat tortuous doodling
Jose Lerma Interview
22 June 2010, by Ryan Christian, Fecal Face Dot Com
Tell us a bit about yourself Jose?
I was born in Spain, grew up in Puerto Rico in the hospital grounds where my parents worked. Moved to New Orleans for college and then Law School at UW-Madison. At 27 I took a class with TL Solien (who was an amazing teacher, and a mentor) freaked out completely, dropped out of law school during my last year and decided to study art.
How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it? What are some of the driving inspirations behind your work. What has influenced you in big ways?
I make paintings and works about painting. I try my best to collapse the personal with the art historical and to fit both within a single frame. This is something many artists do, but I just wanted to make it central to my practice. Although the works and paintings change dramatically in terms of material, the common thread is some story I heard my mom say, for instance, or some ugly piece of furniture in their living room or some dorky thing I did in my youth. Then I try to fuse this with some historical event, person or artistic style. This sounds cheesy, but I always say that all art is about other art and about your parents.
AS: Rather than just a showing of new paintings, â€śI am sorry I am Perry,â€ť seems to me to be a very thoughtful exhibition with clear formal and conceptual intentions. Are you both the artist and the curator?