Artist: Elmer Guevara and Robert Nehemiah Sanchez
Media: Mixed Media
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov West
Elmer Guevara and Robert Nehemiah Sanchez are both CSULB undergraduates who are working toward their BFA degree in the School of Art’s Drawing and Painting Program. In terms of Robert Nehemiah, he is from Pico Rivera, and loves music and traveling. Elmer Guevara also likes to travel and was born and raised in Los Angeles. Both Guevara and Nehemiah have been drawing since they were both children. They both pursue the idea of showing people and materials that are often ignored, and bringing them into view through their artwork.
Formal Analysis: In terms of one of the many portraits by Nehemiah, each of them have various qualities in terms of material. In terms of media of “Portrait of a Mentor”, it was painted on unprimed wood. And it was painted with oil paints. Within this portraits you can see the subtle colors used to create the realistic portrait. The shape of the overall portrait is a bit random considering this is a piece of wood. The texture appears to not be smooth because of the wood material. The lines of the background of the painting are mostly straight, unlike the actual portrait itself. The size of the portrait is not too big or small, providing an almost human size portrait of the person as if you were looking at them in front of you. In terms of his other paintings, they were painted on unprimed metal and unprimed cardboard. They also exhibit the same features in terms of the colors that were chosen to portray the realistic portraits. For the paintings that were created by Guevara, his paintings were much larger in terms of scale. Each painting was about the same size and the same square canvas. The colors that he used for his paintings were also a bit subtle, but in certain parts of the paintings you can see some brighter colors, for example the street signs or street lights. It almost provides this motion aspect to his paintings. Guevara’s style of painting however, is different than Nehemiah in the way it moves. In one particular painting titled “Greg”, it featured many different lines going in different directions, everything around the main person is going in different directions. Their are some parts of the painting that seem randomized together, but this is because he is trying to portray a particular message. This type of style in this painting can also be said about his other paintings as well. Each one seems to have a focus on the person that is in the center. The background or the parts overlapping each person seems to be abstract or out of place. In some of his other paintings there also seem to be random splashes of paint or abstract shapes placed together. In all of his paintings, there is a clear rhythm in terms of the theme of a person in a street environment. The rest of the painting however, does not have the same rhythm because of the way it is done with different strokes.
Content Analysis: In terms of both of the artists, they both wanted to portray in these paintings people and materials that may seem irrelevant or ignored. In terms of Guevara’s vision in his paintings, his main focus is to bring to light the importance and uniqueness of people who are homeless. He is specifically trying to depict homeless people who he sees constantly in the streets of Los Angeles. Because he was born and raised there, he often goes and sees the same people. He drew inspiration from the conversations and mannerisms of these different people. He knew that these people are often ignored and simply fade into the background. In the piece titled “Greg”, his idea while creating the painting was to represent Greg as a person and what makes him unique. In the painting it seems that many things are moving, and Guevara painted it this way to represent how Greg tends to move a lot. His other paintings show almost the same type of patterns with some slight differences. One thing I did notice is that each of his paintings tends to overemphasize a particular sign that shows where these people are usually located. I believe this is done on purpose to refocus the idea of making these people visible and no longer invisible. For Nehemiah’s paintings he tried to make those who were close to him stand out, but also wanted to emphasize the materials used to depict them. This is shown in the unconventional way that he painted their portraits on material such as cardboard, wood and metal. His ideas in these paintings were focused on materialism and the idea that these paintings are not meant to last long. For example, the painting of his grandmother on cardboard, he knows will eventually deteriorate. Nehemiah’s paintings are also meant to depict important people in his life such as his mother, grandmother, his friend, and his mentor.
My Experience: After viewing the exhibit from both Elmer Guevara and Robert Nehemiah Sanchez, I realized how their ideas of making materials and people go from being invisible to visible is pretty relatable to the way I see things. I always tend to be drawn to people who need help or seem invisible. I think that this whole exhibit gives voice to those who don’t, as well as show the possibilities with materials that are at times forgotten. They are able to take something or people that others take for granted and see the beauty in it. My own perspective of the world is that you should always help those who don’t have a voice or those who can’t afford to have a voice. And I think specifically with the men and women who are homeless in Los Angeles they have a hard time having someone voice for them. Guevara takes his skill and gift to draw out a unique way to provide a voice that they need. As for Nehemiah, I believe that the way he focuses on using unconventional canvases I think brings out the idea that even the most simplistic material could bring a person to life. And in my perspective I see the world in appreciating the little things, the little gestures, the little gifts, the things that are typically looked over. When I viewed these portraits, it personally warmed my heart to see such a unique way of bringing out one main idea in two different ways. Overall, both artists really resonated with me because they were able to take their talents to provide a great and beautiful way of conveying an important message.