Artists: Elmer Guevara and Robert Nehemiah
Media: Portrait Paintings
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West
Instagram: Elmer’s: 3lmski1 Robert’s: wookieewarrior
Both Elmer and Robert will be graduating from CSULB this semester with a BRA degree in the School of Art’s drawing and painting program. Robert originally planned to become a firefighter before deciding he actually wanted to be an artist. He was previously at Rio Hondo Community College before transferring here to Long Beach. He grew up drawing art but always had this notion that he needed to get a job. As he was preparing for the academy, he decided to leave it for fine arts. Robert uses found objects from the streets and individuals who impacted his life while exploring detached from materialism. Elmer always knew he wanted to be an artist, he was influenced early on by his older cousins and friends who did graffiti in LA. The street art around his neighborhood in LA also influenced him. He knew he wanted to come to school to become an artist. Elmer transferred from ELAC and used to take the bus from LA to ELAC before transferring to CSULB. Elmer ventures out to LA and interviews homeless individuals, asking for a photograph to make a composed collage to then put their stories and his experiences into his paintings.
Elmer’s paintings are based on references he got. He uses strangers he has never met, meanwhile Robert’s painting are based on the people who have impacted his life. Although both their arts are paintings, they have different approaches. Elmer’s is more contemporary and abstract/fragmented and distorted. Whereas Robert is more of a traditional painting, but he breaks from the traditional painting is the material he uses. They decided to show together because at the end of last semester they both wanted to show and found similarity with subject vs. surface. They took this idea and ran with it. Both studied transitional study of drawing and painting human forms. Their process has started about eight months ago from a previous course they had taken, their paintings are now no longer classwork. They have expanded on their art and is still growing it. For example, it would usually take Elmer about 3-4 weeks to finish a painting, but it really is never officially done because he is always going back and constantly adding changes to his paintings. Robert uses material that isn’t meant to last for his paintings, doing some zen exploration. He explores things that would typically be overlooked, once he finds a material he’ll choose a person then make a connection between the two of them. He uses unprimed material which uses a lot of paint because it is constantly absorbing paint. He is trying to break from possession and materialism while he paints. Robert jokingly recommends that you should not paint on a unprimed surface.
In one of Elmer’s painting, it is based on an interview with a homeless man named Greg. He met Greg around his neighborhood and one of the first things he noticed was Greg was constantly moving. He wasn’t sure if it was because of his state of mind, or if it was something else. He took pictures of his environment and tried to express Greg’s movement into his piece. He likes to call these, “visual interviews.” Greg was a musician Elmer interviewed between King Blvd. and Vermont hence the street signs in the painting. Robert did not have a specific relationship with his material and his subject until he started his process. When he was in LA and found a part of cardboard, he decided to put his grandma on it and then made a relationship between the two. Both are fragile, cardboard won’t last much longer with paint, as the grandma is also aging and won’t last much longer. During the painting process, he made a realization that people are just as temporary as materialistic items, and it then turns into an emotional process. Robert is learning to break away from clinging onto materialism and trying to detached himself. The names of the portraits are a very importance part to the exhibit. These are people who have names and they’re not just nobody.
This exhibit really opened my eyes. It made me realize how oblivious I am to my surrounding. It was different, it was raw. Seeing Elmer’s painting collages of the people he interviewed and seeing bits of their life in one painting. I also loved seeing Robert’s work. As soon as I walked in, I was immediately in trance with the material he used. I had all sorts of questions in my head with the paint and wood and cardboard.It showed me a painting isn’t just on a canvas with some paint. Elmer’s painting was so creative. It was distorted , like life, because not everything is right side up or perfect.