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Charlie James Gallery
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Elmer Guevara at Charlie James Gallery


Elmer Guevara, a Salvadorian artist who was raised in South Central LA, draws from familial memories in his large-scale paintings. Family members can be seen in paintings recovering from hangovers or napping in hammocks. A large self-portrait in his solo show at Charlie James Gallery pictures the artist playing pool in a domestic interior surrounded by trappings of his childhood and family history—empty beer bottles, family photos, and a Salvadorian flag are dotted throughout. Notably, Guevara’s works are mixed media; using gel transfer, he layers family photographs into his paintings, often flanking them across his subject’s skin. 

The artist often considers sci-fi writer Ursula K. Leguin’s “Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction,” a theory that demarcates characters in a story as either heroes or containers. Guevara’s scenes focus on the latter—mundane scenes of the every day with minimal action or drama. Yet, the word container feels significant—each individual depicted becomes a container for shared familial memories and cultural history.

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Image courtesy of Charlie James Gallery. Photo: Yubo Dong / of studio.