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Manuel López - Still Life Goes On


January 2022


Charlie James Gallery

JANUARY 29 - APRIL 2, 2022

Manuel López's drawings and paintings are informed by his immediate surroundings. Each piece is a careful examination of elements found around his environment: books, records, boxes, houseplants, various elements from his home, his neighborhood, and studio. López relies on observation, memories, materiality, touch, and presence to evoke a feeling of familiarity in the compositions. This show will present a series of still life works, executed in drawings and in paintings, developed during pandemic lockdowns. Taken together, the content of the drawings and paintings build a portrait of the artist - his memories and affections, his culture and personal history, expressed through carefully composed depictions of arranged objects. This is Manuel López’s first solo show with the gallery.

Words from the artist about the exhibition:

For this work/exhibition, I’ve relied on my interest in drawing and in the objects that orbit me on a daily basis, objects that exist within my own personal space but that also inhabit a broader and shared cultural world, objects that I always gravitated towards but often ignored because of their mundanity. The drawings came first, as I have been trained in the traditional way of making 2-D art, through direct observation. The work expresses certain interests that have been ingrained in me since I was a child: a love of books, plants, colors, and toys, which in turn inform my present thoughts. The works are careful explorations of form and color, of materiality, touch, and the presence of certain objects. I created most of the drawings during the Covid-19 lockdown from direct observation, always with attention to detail, confident lines, whimsical marks, and the flattening of space. What I love about drawing is its immediacy, the subtle mark-making, and the ability to take away my boredom. The paintings emerged from the drawings, and therein lay the fun problem at the center of the show, that of translating the drawings into paintings, making the paintings “act” like drawings. I am always looking to learn from many different artists. I looked hard at the work of David Hockney, Mamma Anderson, Jacob Lawrence, Diego Rivera, Hillary Pecis, and Horace Pippin, among others. I looked at Pre-Columbian codices, childhood cartoons, and painted signs found all over East LA/Boyle Heights, and this show seeks to engage in a visual conversation with all of these elements. I look to both the sublime and the commonplace. I excavate Mexican American culture, fine art history, and rasquachismo, and make them mine.

Manuel López (b.1983, East Los Angeles, CA) grew up in Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles. He attended East Los Angeles College, transferred to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) where he earned his BFA in painting and drawing. He has been included in numerous group exhibitions in institutions, galleries, and museums nationwide including Ni de Aqui, Ni de Alla, Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, Youngbloods; Quotidian, Los Angeles, CA, Gardens; Last Projects, in Los Angeles, CA; Now(n) person, place, or thing; Tiger Strikes Asteroid, in Chicago, Il,Dark Progressivism; The Built Environment, at the Museum of Art and History, in Lancaster, CA; Vincent Price Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Friends Do Not Fear, at New Image Art, in West Hollywood, CA; Dia de los Muertos Exhibit at Self-Help Graphics, Boyle Heights, CA; Surface Place at Abrazo Interno Gallery at The Clemente, New York, NY; Spill at the Betty Rymer Gallery,Chicago, IL SAIC Undergrad Exhibition, at Sullivan Galleries, Chicago, IL, Solo Exhibition- So Mundane and incomplete (Some drawings and paintings); at Eastern Projects, Los Angeles, CA. Manuel Lopez lives and works in Los Angeles and is represented by Charlie James Gallery.

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