Vida, Pasión y Muerte: Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia at CB1
By Genie Davis
Through October 21st
Vida, pasión y muerte – Life, passion, and death – is a triumphant celebration at CB1 Gallery in DTLA through October 21st. Presented in conjunction with Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia’s exhibition offers a wide and honestly glorious range of works. From woven paper tapestries to figurative acrylic on paper paintings to richly textured sand and tar works on linen. This is a fresh and wonderful show. The wood sculptures that the artist also displays are sinuous and sleek, a beautiful example of traditional woodworking that is unfathomably rich.
Tradition is, in fact, important to Hurtado Segovia, both in terms of technique and in terms of Christian theology. A devout Christian, the artist is intent on creating a revelatory body of work that is contemporary, Christian-based, and a far cry from the secularized right-wing politics too often attributed to faith-based works.
Hurtado Segovia’s work runs the thematic gamut from Aztec culture to Catholic religious icons, adding in abstract sculptures that evoke both statues of saints and tribal art. His work absorbs and then transcends ethnographic images, theology, and craft, becoming something that is extraordinarily meaningful.
Some of the potency of his art is the techniques he uses. In this, his fifth exhibition at CB1, Segovia creates work with tar from the La Brea Tar Pits and sand from area beaches, using these materials placed on linen to create works that seem to merge Aztec images with modern art. There is a timeless quality to these pieces, the images of which pay homage to ancient petroglyphs or stone carvings while remaining very much of today. His “Untitled #6” in this series features geometric shapes of triangle, rectangle and circle formed as islands in a sea of tar on the left, perfectly executed, precise “drip” lines striating sections of them. To the right, an image that could be a mysterious geological map, a vast thumb print, or the rings of an ancient tree trunk are curved and sensuous.
Color – alive, vibrant, and engaging – is what grabs the eye first in the artist’s acrylic and pastel with acrylic works on paper. “Reflexiones Sobre la Muerte Panteon” or “Reflections on Death,” depicts a beautiful series of crypts in a cemetery, the orange sun rising in the pink sky, washing the scene with the color of blossoms and passion. In the same series, “Reflexiones Sobre la Muerte (San Martin De Porres)” gives us a soft brown and blue palette with beautifully wrought small animals looking up at the sainted figure above them. Working with fabric, muslin, glass beads, acrylic and metallic floss on the show’s titular “Vida, pasión y muerte,” Segovia offers a reverential covering reminiscent of an altar cloth or a stunning funereal shroud.
Displayed in a separate small room, reverently lit as any altar, an abstract yet radiant series of paper and acrylic weavings are hung, the largest suspended from the ceiling, the others hung on the walls. These feel like tapestries, like holy garments, both fragile and resilient. The artist’s “Ascencíon en tiempos turbulentos (Ascension in turbulent times),” one of these weavings, includes glowing gold acrylic. Like each of these woven paper works, there is a fusion of light and space in their pattern.
As to the wooden sculptures Hurtado Segovia displays here, some appear to be saints or religious icons, as with the pecan, walnut, maple, oak, and acorn sculpture “Nuestra Senora Reina de Los Angeles” or “Our Lady, Queen of Angels.” Both elegant and spiritual, the piece is a seamless fusion of different wood grains. His “Totem,” made from chunky blocks of elm, pecan, plum, walnut and maple, seems to come from a different time, pre-dating Christianity. The supple, leaning, irregular blocks of wood and what appears to be a mallet on top of them feels powerful, the beginning of some form of creation, yet already perfectly formed.
With four diverse approaches representing the exhibition “Life, Passion, and Death,” the overarching theme of this show seems to be that the artist’s life and passion overrides the fact of our eventual deaths, creating and experiencing his own immortality in his art, and inviting viewers to experience it, too. And long may these works and our viewing of them, live.
The show’s title turns a fatalist biological fact optimistic by including passion between bookends inviting us to live fully, filled with hope.
Born in Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia graduated with a BA from UCLA in 2003 and an MFA from Otis College of Art and Design in 2007. In 2015 the Vincent Price Art Museum organized his first solo museum exhibition, a survey of work from 2007 to 2014, Mis Papeles. Additionally his work has been featured in Paperworks at the Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles, Fiberlicious at the LA Municipal Art Gallery, the SUR Biennial and Materical Cultures at BRIC (Brooklyn, NY). His work is in the collection of The Hammer Museum as well as many corporate and private collections. He lives with his wife and two children in Los Angeles where he also maintains his studio. Hurtado Segovia is Assistant Professor of Illustration at Otis College of Art and Design.