In this series of works for the Dialogos section, Lerma is, through economic, painterly execution, foregrounding background characters into central iconic figures. His style is concise, typical of the way...
In this series of works for the Dialogos section, Lerma is, through economic, painterly execution, foregrounding background characters into central iconic figures. His style is concise, typical of the way physically small and unimportant characters were depicted in large canvases. He is blocking with a few strokes to create a general impression of a person.
Lerma takes the style of the physically marginalized and makes it central to the plot, scaling the subjects into imposing, larger than life figures.
These painterly and gestural works have masterful and undeniable materiality and tactility. The actual materials used in their making are decidedly blue-collar and were carefully chosen by Lerma to represent the construction industry, a primary employer of the Hispanic population of this country. The supports are standard wood doors, the canvas is burlap or upholstering fabric, and the paint thickened with fillers available in most hardware stores.
The Images in these canvases are all taken from Spanish or Latin American paintings from the 15th through the 19th centuries. They are all part of the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.
The wallpaper background is also based on paintings from the same collection. It’s a compact cartoonish rendering of every painting in the east corridor of the old wing of the museum.
The works in this space is part of a larger project in which Lerma is making a drawing of every painting in the old wing and repainting every Spanish/Latin painting in the collection. These works are representations of a more significant idea of representation, equity, and proportionality.
Among this grouping are Juan of Austria, illegitimate son of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, King of Spain, Archduke of Austria from 1519, King of Spain (Castile and Aragon) from 1516, and Lord of the Netherlands as titular Duke of Burgundy from 1506. Juan's illegitimacy was the subject of discussion in court politics, and he perhaps most famously was the inspiration for Don John in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Juan (or John) was half-brother to Phillip II of Spain, one of Lerma's most recurrent subjects, part of his ongoing interest in Habsburg Spain.