Sunday, November 5, 2017

Douglas Messerli | "Exploring New Forms of Artistic Expression" (on Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia's show "Vida, Passion y muerte")

exploring new forms of artistic expression

by Douglas Messerli

Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia Vida, Passión y muerte, Los Angeles, CB1Gallery / I attended the show with Howard N. Fox on September 9, 2017

The new show by Los Angeles artist Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia at CB1Gallery reveals this young artist’s endless restlessness in exploring new forms and materials, and suggests that his talents are nearly endless.

      I had previously encountered Segovia’s art in my partner Howard N. Fox’s Paper Works exhibition at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles in 2015-2016. That show displayed several of Segovia’s large, colorfully woven banners of acrylic on paper as well as woven yarn tapestries. The paper banners were woven in a kind a thatch-work-like pattern that is usually associated with basketry work; yet these banners were not meant to be seen one-dimensionally, but from both sides, each representing fully different visual landscapes.

      The banners, as Fox suggested, despite their often secular images, also carried with them Christian imagery that comes out of Segovia’s deep involvement with the Pentecostal evangelical International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, founded in Los Angeles by Aimee Semple McPherson.

       In the new show “Vida, Pasión y muerte” (Life, Pasion and Death) we also see a couple of beautiful examples of these banner-like paper weavings, although here they are smaller and more abstract, but still calling attention to their sculptural qualities by turning the corners, even when placed upon the wall, to call attention to their dual natures.

Image result for lorenzo hurtado segovia      Although not my favorite of the 32-some pieces in the show, Segovia has also introduced new materials in his sand and tar paintings on linen. These works, usually in black and white only, have great significance for Los Angeles dwellers, in particular, since they have been created with tar directly taken from the famed La Brea Tar Pits. It nothing else, these impressive panels from 2017, several of the 56 x 24 inches, remind one of the banners, and once against represent tar-painted symbols (wheels, triangular forms, and towers) that hint at the kind private iconography which dominates all of his art. And it’s wonderful to imagine that the very materials of these works has seeped from deep within the earth across the street from my Los Angeles residence to become the very substance of art.

      Most interestingly, Segovia does not just delimit his religious-like iconography to his own religious practice, but brilliantly borrows from various faiths including Judaism, Catholicism, Native American Indian practices and even the Dutch-hex Signs painted upon the barns of the Amish.

     Most of these are represented through his acrylic on paper paintings, done in 2016 and 2017, which include “En menos que cante un gallo (Before the Rooster Crows),” “Pushing Daisies (Resurrection Painting),” “Reflexiones Sobre la Muerte (San Martin De Porres),” and “Trinity Vine,” (the later also encompassing oil paint). Among these gem-like works is a coffin of the show’s title, “Vida, passión y muerte,” topped by a stunningly delicate acrylic, glass bead, and metal floss on muslin shroud. If these pieces are highly eclectic in their religious sources, together they create almost a sense of an ecumenical cathedral, filled with objects of reverence and beauty.

      But perhaps the most stunning development in Segovia’s seemingly endless exploration of new materials are from a series from this year of pecan, lemon, walnut, oak, maple and other wood inland sculptures that represent totem-like figures that extend in their sources Mexican and Latin American culture to Native American-like works. Pieces such as “Nuestra Señora Reina de Los Angeles,” “Father and Child,” “Ave,” “Ave II,” and “Tótem” all reveal the work of a highly skilled wood craftsman, which is made even more amazing when we learn that the artist taught himself how to work in this form only in the past few years.

     Given the panoply of talents, there is no telling where Segovia will move in the next year or two; but we perceive he has already a significant body of important work.

Los Angeles, September 10, 2017

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