Marty Walker Gallery




Jose Lerma creates paintings, drawings, and collages that combine the personal with the historical, often on an epic scale. Originally trained as a lawyer, in Lerma’s work one sees traces of Phillip Guston’s delightfully awkward drawings and sickly sweet colors and R. Crumb’s obsessive hand.  Lerma favors portraiture of obscure historical figures such as Spain’s Charles II, the victim of his own family’s inbreeding whose ineffectual reign was only made worse by his lack of an heir upon his premature death. In simplified compositions from circles of carpet and complex blown-up obsessive doodles, Lerma revisits and reworks the same characters and ideas over and over, often borrowing or referencing elements from caricatures by contemporary social critics of the day. Lerma explains, “The historical distance allows me to address ethical issues without moralizing. The viewer’s ability to project a contemporary character or situation into the scene is essential.”

Critic David Fahl compared Lerma’s paintings to Paul Klee, “…they have the same kind of intelligent playfulness.” However, the artist’s list of favorites is a diverse cross-section of art history including late Picasso, Morandi, Sean Landers, Piero della Francesca, William Anatassi, Bruce Nauman, Paul Thek, and more.

José Lerma holds an MA and MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has attended residencies at CORE the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, ME and the Fortaleza 302 Residency Program, San Juan, PR. He has exhibited his work widely both nationally and internationally at Milwaukee Art Museum, WI; Museum of Contemporary art Detroit, MI; Museum of Fine Arts Houston, TX; Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece among others. Lerma lives in Brooklyn, NY and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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ArtPapers, McKinnon, John, "Stealing from Oneself, Jose Lerma," November 2011
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Ryan Travis Christan, "Jose Lerma Interview," April 2010
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Miami Sun Post, Weinberg, Michelle, "20 Young Artists Mix It Up at the Centro Cultural Espanol," April 2006
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New York Times, Cotter, Holland, "Art in Review: Sadie Hawkins Dance," June 2004
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Houston Press, Fahl, David, "These Walls Can Talk," April 2004
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ArtNexus, Pujol, Ernesto, "Climbing the stairs of Fortaleza 302," October 2003
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