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José Lerma

José Lerma (° 1971) was born in Spain, lived in Puerto Rico and studied in the United States. He currently is a resident at the Core Program in Houston, Texas. Three years ago, he abandoned installation, video and photography to concentrate exclusively on painting. José Lerma has held exhibitions in New York, San Juan, Miami, Chicago and Venice, Italy. He is exhibiting in Belgium for the first time.

The paintings and drawings by José Lerma combine a personal, almost intuitive mode of expression with a refined mix of Latin, European and American influences. Lerma uses layers of figurative as well as abstract elements, charcoal and colours, text, the blank canvas and smudges of paint to create vibrant, erratic compositions in which you recognize cartoonish figures, mysterious calligraphic signs, and vegetal varieties.

At the basis, Lerma’s paintings express a tension between the heroic and the pathetic. With his loose painting style and specific subject matter, he constantly hovers between drama and irony, melancholy and absurdity. In this sense, his work clearly belongs to the lineage of Philip Guston, Peter Saul and Carroll Dunham, although it is slightly less sinister.

José Lerma paints and draws with energy and intensity, fully exploring the expressive possibilities of the paint itself and creating his authentic, startling atmosphere on the basis of a subtle chromatic harmony and a balanced composition. “I felt painting could not be beat at being painterly…”, he says, “it felt like the most natural manifestation of the medium… I did not want painting to comment but to have autonomy from other mediums.”

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