SATURDAY, MAY 7, 2011 / PUBLIC RECEPTION FROM 8 - 10 PM
EXHIBITION RUNS THROUGH JULY 2011
This second phase of the Date Farmers' exhibition at Ace Gallery Los Angeles is the result of their ongoing process of accumulation during the last six months. Since the pre-opening in December 2010, the gallery has literally become their studio working space, having 24-hour access to the gallery seven days a week, adding new work and repainting others as their conception and aesthetic of the overall installation has evolved. Their unique approach to making an exhibition has expanded boundaries of painting and flourished to include a fully functional bar with furnishings and a "3D Club Video" Date Farmers Theatre made from recycled, customized corrugated metal, for their film collaboration A Volta which screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and internationally. The Date Farmers have been given free reign in mounting their ever-evolving exhibition, morphing and customizing it into their highly idiosyncratic universe.
The Date Farmers, consisting of Armando Lerma and Carlos Ramirez, coined their name early in their careers after joining artistic forces in 1998. Their paintings, collages, sculptures, effigies, installations, and videos are infused with both commercial references and political content. Rooted in their Mexican-American heritage and Californian pop culture, their work contains elements influenced by a vast history of Mexican culture: Pre-Columbian art, the Mayan codices, Mexican street murals, Catholicism, traditional revolutionary posters, prison art, graffiti, Oaxacan sign painting, low-rider and tattoo art, fused to create their own signature visual language. The artists often travel across the border into Mexicali and Oaxaca hunting for found materials such as discarded signs, wood, and corrugated metal that they reconfigure, often juxtaposing pirated images and text with their original artwork and collaged elements. In customizing found objects with a mordant wit, the artists place themselves into their work, both emotionally and pictorially, sometimes representing themselves in surrogate as ferocious black dogs.
Originally from Indio, California, a desert region a few hours east of Los Angeles, the duo have been living and working on their art in the peaceful seclusion of the desert until recently when they also took a studio in Los Angeles to create their exhibition for Ace Gallery. The Date Farmers combine familiar pop iconography – ranging from Mickey Mouse, Darth Vader, and Spiderman – to 'amended' corporate logos with figures from comics, folklore, and Catholicism. In these paintings, desert creatures – such as tarantulas, coyotes, scorpions, and rattlesnakes – are hand-painted on top of seemingly incongruous found signs with collaged lettering, along with such items as stamps, bottle caps, comic strips, and advertisements. The duo use larger-than-life figures and ideas, like Jesus and brand names, in what they call "Super Loco" also expanding the use of words mixing English and Spanish titles and flaunting creative misspellings like "Servicios D.J. Pleyboy" and the "Superchango."
The Date Farmers have a history just as compelling as their artwork. Armando's father owned a date farm where Carlos once worked, yet the two later met at an art opening in the Coachella Valley in California. Carlos' mother was a migrant who once worked with civil rights leader Cesar Chavez, an American activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers, during the grape boycott of the 1970s. From the viewpoint of American-born Chicanos, the Date Farmers explore topical subjects with insightful simplicity. Their work was recently included in the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego's 2010 exhibition Viva La Revolución: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape, and has been exhibited in museums such as Oakland Museum of California, Laguna Art Museum and Palm Springs Art Museum.
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