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January 13 - March 3, 2007 at Patricia Correia Gallery, Santa Monica

by Mat Gleason

Night of The Maniac," 2006,
acrylic on canvas, 18" x 24".

"Angels Lit by Sin," 2006, acrylic
on canvas, 30 x 30".

"Angels Lit by Sin," 2006,
acrylic on paper, 19 1/4 x 23".

"Madra Patria," 2006,
acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30".

At the outset, the entertaining painted drawings of Jose Lozano are reminiscent of R. Crumb’s infamous underground comix. Fraught with an uncomfortable angst which cannot be mapped on that line between beauty’s face and Medusa’s glare, the tension of these works lies in our own sympathy for the vulnerability of the rendered figures.  Removed from satire, Lozano pays homage to the Chicano everyman and woman in a series he generalizes as “La Gente.”
The visuals are stunningly familiar, as if they are drawn from our own photographic memories, yet animated in a crude precision.  Nude women walk around with a casual sway, while brightly colored volcanoes signal an impending doom.  Every face in a crowded room looks up, as if you have walked on a stage attached to the theatrical fourth wall.  The viewer/audience here is integrated yet isolated, placed suddenly in the same situation to which the lost souls of these artworks have been sentenced.
The festive colors here do not hide the isolation of each member--characters packed horror vacuui style into the compositions, as if Lari Pittman had decided to celebrate heterosexuality within an ambivalently-defined Latino culture.  Silent faces stare out with varying degrees of welcome and query, loathing and hospitality.  These unresolved compositional confrontations may unnerve viewers conditioned to the menu of smiling peasants, cocksure revolutionaries and iconic virgins as homogenized and sanctioned subjects for the art world’s mestizo ghetto.
Lozano is not an artist who passes judgment.  The figures in his work pulsate with a reflection of the viewer’s attitudes toward La Raza.  If you are uneasy in front of these pictures, perhaps your cleaning lady is due a raise.  If you are comfortable with the hospitality they appear to present, then you probably have at least a higher level of comprehension of the multicultural dialogue than the Arizona Border Minutemen.  While there are no clear-cut answers, there are no indictments or hostilities either.  The bright pink floor of the nightclub calls for you to celebrate your own personhood within the group, and the garish green and yellow t-shirts on the men packed into “Los Tres Volcanoes Club” allow you to relax and enjoy the festive atmosphere no matter your baggage or fashion sense.

A longtime resident of Los Angeles, Lozano was born and raised in Juarez, Mexico, and the cross-cultural synergy of the border experience infuses these paintings with a dramatic charm.  The flair for confrontation is offset with decor and compositional saturation.  The net effect is a magical depiction of the ordinary night out inside the psychological space of multicultural experience.  It is a terrain that is just beginning to be authentically confronted in our collective unconscious.